Don’t Panic – about money for University !

A lot of people are looking at their options for higher education, and the issue of cost is sure to be on the top concern of many. It is important to ensure that students look at the range of support that may be available and don’t just look at one source, or indeed rely on what someone is saying who may not be aware of all the options.  I always suggest students check both with the adviser/tutor and the university they are considering if they have any questions on this factor. Money worries shouldn’t stop anyone going to University according to the Government, but like all things that are important in life students need to devote some time to checking everything out.  As an adviser you can get an idea of issues, but we don’t have time to check all the finance issues for every student at every possible university within the time we have available.  Concern about the cost of higher education is the number one reason that people who have applied to university do not enter HE, and as advisers we need to ensure that this is approached with as much seriousness as the actual choice of University degree. Of course in other countries such as the USA this has always been the case, but it is fairly new to us in the UK and the perception of this, certainly amongst some groups of applicants, does require work. Although Student Finance England is one port of call, it is not the only resource to use. Of course those of us who work in the independent sector already work with people who are aware that education isn’t ‘free’, but this also has issues and aspects that need working on.

What to expect from a careers interview – guidelines…

Following on from the previous post, one thing that is clear is how the generic “careers adviser” who gives “careers advice” in a “careers interview” often isn’t anything of the sort.  This can be due to the various people who play the role of advisers from parents, family, teachers and other adults, allied to what actually happened in the session. The summary which goes along the lines of  “I had a computer test when I ticked a few boxes and it told me what to be” does come around time after time.  All of the careers education and guidance work is often not mentioned, or perhaps recognized as such, nor is the fact that no test will tell you want to do. Indeed often these comments seem to refer to the original Jiig-CAL questionnaire which 21 years ago was the bright young thing on the guidance world. An interesting flashback on it from the BBC is here for those too young to remember it J !

Of course the fact that Jiig-CAL should have been part of a Careers Education and Guidance (CEG) programme of 8 weeks or so duration is often missed out, indeed it seems that the quick fix of a sheet that would tell you what to do has an enduring power in our society. Perhaps this is where the career of Leela from Futurama as a “career placement officer“would develop from.

Returning to the present is there a need to be explicit on the role of the careers interview and what to expect from it ?  Some universities already do this, Bath has a nice example, as does UWE to name just two examples. Is the old common understanding of the careers adviser telling people what career to do, (or more often remembered as telling them what they cannot do), still current in our work ?

Studying at Uni if you are under 18

Often people are good at thinking that something is stopping them going to University, when it actually doesn’t. One such example is that you have to be a certain age to go to University, this is often given as 18, or you can be too old to go to University. Like many things this one is a mixture of history and people having discussions about a friend who knows someone who said.. In actualy fact with the new Age Discrimination legislation we have in this country all age restrictions no longer apply, unless you can demonstrate the need for them. As the 18 year old example given is one of them it is worth pointing out that all Universities now have Admission procedures for people younger than 18 applying to them. Of course this also applies to distance learning institutions such as the Open University who have students studying with them aged from 90+ to those who are under 16 years of age. Although going below 15 years of age might be less common, there are currently over 8,000 students under 18 currently at Universities in Britain, so if you are considering this you would not be the only one. If this might be you, or someone you know, contact your chosen University and ask them for details. You’ll find they will be able to answer any questions you may have, especially if it concerns such areas as access to medical and social care courses. Click on the title of this post to find out more about this issue. Full details can be found here: