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I don't have the right qualifications to get into University, what can I do about it?

Find out from the University prospectus and/or the admissions tutor for the course you are interested in what qualifications they will accept.

Two ways of getting on to a full-time degree course is to: 

a) find an Access programme locally. In Northamptonshire these can be found at: Tresham Institute and Northampton College. Most University courses accept an Access certificate as a route into Higher Education.

b) Take A levels (or equivalent) at a local Further Education College.

Who can I talk to and find out more about the course I am interested in?

Chat with the admissions team of the Universities you are applying to and find out if you have the right entry qualifications for the course you would like to study.

Will I have the attributes to study at Higher Education?

Many people are able to study at Higher Education although it is very demanding and is the same for students of any age. The excellent skills and attributes mature students display are not always recognised by themselves and may deter them from study in Higher Education.

I am worried about coping with studying, my family and my job.

It is important to make sure that the balance is right. Make time for all of the different aspects of your life. Mature students are very good at doing this but if you feel you are unable to cope you can talk to the Student Services in your chosen learning environment.

Where can I study?

When you are a student you will have lots of private study whether this is at Higher Education or in a course preparing for University entry. All Colleges have quiet study areas for your use. As an alternative or in addition it is a good idea to identify an area in your home as your study area where you can leave your books and papers where they can be readily accessed.

Can I go into the Student Union as a mature student?

The Student Union is open to all students and you may find there is a society for Mature Students where you are studying. There maybe a society you want to join or you may want to get together with other likeminded students and start your own society.

Can I afford to study at Higher Education?

Studying to get a degree is a major investment in yourself. Your earnings following graduation will no doubt increase and your confidence in your abilities will certainly improve. All students struggle to manage financially but help is available through Student Services who can signpost you towards help for either managing your income and budgeting or by debt management if this is appropriate.

For more information visit the Student Finance England website 

What are the type of costs when studying?

There are two main types of expenses and these are tuition fees and personal living expenses (which can include childcare). You can receive help for both of these type of expenses through grants, bursaries and student loans. Information about this can be found by talking to Student Services at a College, your Local Authority or Aimhigher.

For more information visit the Student Finance England website 

Can I work part-time and study a full time course at the same time?

Yes, as long as it doesn't interfere with your studies. It will be good experience for your CV and you will have some additional cash.

What does HE stand for, and what does it mean?

HE stands for Higher Education. It means courses at a higher level than A-levels and NVQ level 3. You can do an HE course at a university, an HE college and at many further education (FE) colleges.

Give me a good reason for bothering with HE!

We can do better than one good reason. Here are five great reasons!

  • Graduates are 50 percent less likely to be unemployed than non-graduates.
  • Graduates earn, on average, significantly more than non-graduates. Young graduates aged 21-30, for example, can expect to earn £6,500 more each year than non-graduates in the same age bracket.
  • Whatever your dream job, your chances will be improved if you have a degree or diploma from a university or college.
  • If you want to work in some professions (such as law or medicine) you will have to have a relevant degree.

Your confidence and independence will grow, and you will enjoy a great social life!

How is university or college different to school?

At university or college of Higher Education you are responsible for your own learning. You are treated as an adult - and expected to behave like one. But support and guidance is available from your tutors and advisers in the student union when you want it. At the end of the day, like most things, you have to work hard if you want to make a success of it!

None of my mates are thinking of HE. What if I don't make any new friends?

In the first few weeks alone you'll be able to go to freshers' week parties and club meetings. You'll meet lots of new people and soon make friends. In fact, you'll be having such a ball that your mates from home will probably be calling you to see if they can come and visit as well as studying your chosen subject !

Should I think about HE if I'm under 16?

Yes, it's good to keep HE in mind because it will give you lots of choices in life. Whatever career you're thinking of, and even if you've not decided yet, it's important to choose your subjects very carefully. For some HE courses you will be expected to have passes in particular pre-16 qualifications (for example, maths and English GCSE or SCE /SQA Standard Grade).

Is HE just for rich people?

Definitely not. More than one million 18-21 year-olds are currently doing an HE course. Universities or colleges are full of students from a wide range of backgrounds, age ranges and ethnic origins. A variety of support funding is available.

Will I or my family have to pay out lots of money?

Everyone has to pay fees. Many students only pay part of the yearly tuition fee. Your family will not need to pay any money for fees before or during your study. You can take out a student loan repayable when you have completed your course and begin to earn a certain amount of money. You may be able to apply for burseries to help with fees.

For more information visit the Student Finance England website 

How long does a HE course take?

Between two and four years, depending on the qualification. Or longer as a part-time student. This might seem like a long time right now. But it will fly by and before you know it, you'll be graduating and stepping out into a bright future.

What kinds of HE courses are available?

What courses aren't available, more like! From medicine to music, law to literature, there are approximately 50,000 courses to choose from at hundreds of universities or colleges, so out there somewhere will be just the course you're looking for! In some popular subjects, such as business studies or computing, there are literally hundreds of courses on offer.

Do I have to leave home to study on an HE course?

No. Lots of students choose to study at a local HE college or university because it suits them better. Others prefer to study away from home and benefit from the experience of leaving home and meeting new people. It's up to you. But you should think about what you want to do before choosing your course and university or college.

What kind of qualifications can I get?

As an HE student you'll probably be working towards one of these qualifications:
• An honours degree: the most common of these is Bachelor of Arts (BA Hons) and Bachelor of Science (BSc Hons). These are usually full-time three-year courses but can also be taken as longer part-time courses and may be available through distance learning. 
• A foundation degree: this is a new HE qualification. Both full- and part-time courses are offered in a variety of work-related subjects and offer progression to a full honours degree. More information is available from the www.higherlearningatwork.org/foundation-degrees022 website.
• A Higher National Diploma (HND) or Diploma of Higher Education (Dip HE): these take two years full-time, and there is the option of turning them into an honours degree by studying for a further year.

My parents aren't well off and can't afford to pay for me to go to HE. I was thinking about working for a while to save some money to pay for myself. Will I still be able to go?

Yes. A lot of people take a year out (gap year) for many different reasons. Taking a year out can be a great way of earning and saving for what lies ahead. It is also an ideal way of striking out on your own, doing something different, getting more experience and improving your life skills into the bargain. Universities and colleges appreciate gap years because they show you've expanded your horizons.

I want to work in my gap year, and I would like it to be relevant to my future career. Are there any schemes that offer this kind of thing?

Yes. Some employers run special gap-year work schemes. For science or engineering students there is the Year in Industry Scheme which offers paid work in industry. You'll be paid the going rate for the job and probably get up to 25 days of off-the-job training in practical skills and business awareness. Check out the website at www.yini.org.uk for more information.

How can I arrange a visit to a University?

Aimhigher Northamptonshire is able to organise Taster days, Masterclasses and visits to institutions in the East Midlands region.

I am planning a careers event – how can Aimhigher help?

Aimhigher can attend Parents Evenings and Careers events with a stand and up to date literature. We will be able to give a presentation and talk to parents and students on a one-to-one basis about progression to post 16 and 18.

Have you got any jobs or can you help me to find a job?

Unfortunately we haven’t got any jobs available but we can look at your CV and help you to find something; we are in touch with other agencies that can help you to find work.

Do you give CV help and interview tips?

Yes we can help you with both and do a mock interview with you if you would like it.

Do you run programmes that will help me to find work?

Yes we do run programmes to help you to find work, so please contact us if you would like more information on what we are doing.

What projects are Aimhigher currently running?

We are currently working with Futures to provide an Education Training programme for 19+ year olds who are unemployed to gain a nationally recognised SFEDI qualification, which will start the middle of July and be held in Wellingborough. We are also working alongside Youth East to work with young people to help promote positive outcomes and prevent young people from becoming NEET by running a vocational programme for them. Amongst many more!

How can I get involved with a project or get information about one?

Get in contact, email us or give us a call and we can arrange a meeting.

Do you have any volunteering opportunities available?

Yes, we have a few available, if you are interested email us or give us a call and we can arrange a meeting.

Do you have any traineeships or apprenticeships available?

No, but we do promote them on our website; follow the link to the apprenticeships website through our website, they are constantly updated and shown in district area.

Can you help me to find work experience?

Yes, we can offer you help and guidance on finding work experience and as we are in contact with a range of companies and charities we can point you in the right direction.

Can Aimhigher work with primary and secondary schools, colleges and universities?

Yes, please get in contact through email or give us a call if you would like our help with training programmes or presentations or if you require any other information on ways that we can help you.