AS-level (alternative term)
Second half of an A-level
These prepare students without the standard entry qualifications (particularly mature students) for a degree course.
Advanced Higher levels, Scottish qualification taken in school; recognised by universities towards satisfying their entrance requirements
Allied health professions
Advanced level, qualification taken in school and widely recognised by universities towards satisfying their entrance requirements
Assessment of Prior (Experiential) Learning
Advanced Subsidiary level, qualification taken in school, and widely recognised by universities towards satisfying their entrance requirements
A non-returnable grant made to students resident in Wales from low-income families.back to top B
Most first degrees lead to a Bachelor degree. Depending on the course, once you have graduated, you can put designated initials after your name – most usually BA (Bachelor of Arts) or BSc (Bachelor of Science) but also eg BEd (Bachelor of Education), BN (Bachelor of Nursing) or LLB (Bachelor of Laws).
The British Council offers information and advice for international students studying in the UK. It also now runs the Erasmus scheme in the UK (which provides UK students with EU financial support for study elsewhere in the EU)
British Film Institute
Department for Business, Innovation & Skills is the government department concerned with universities in England
British Universities & Colleges Sports Association
This is non-returnable money available from universities for certain students − usually those from low-income families or from other vulnerable groups. Government bursaries are also available to eg students on health courses (NHS bursaries); and student grants are called bursaries in Scotland.back to top C
CDLs are offered by a partnership of the Learning & Skills Council and some high street banks to cover vocational education or training for up to two years.
UCAS system for applicants to apply for places in July − September
A course offer that requires achievement in outstanding exams or other conditions
The national application system for practice-based music courses at some seven conservatoires (and drama courses at two of them).back to top D
First degree courses last three or four years full-time and usually lead to a bachelors degree (though there are exceptions, eg in Scotland or some undergraduate masters courses). Higher degrees, including most Masters degrees, PhD etc usually require a first degree as a prerequisite.
The government department concerned with education in schools for England.
Government department responsible for education in Northern Ireland
A higher education qualification awarded after two years full-time study at a university, and should give credit to the first two years of an Honours degree.
A qualification for 14−19 year olds, being introduced in England.
An organisation providing support and information for disabled students.
Disabled Student Allowance, paid to UK students with various disabilities and assessed alongside their other grants and loans.back to top E
Education & Library Board; local board in Northern Ireland to which students can apply for student support.
UCAS system to allow those without a place to apply for courses between January and summer Clearing.
European Computer Driving Licence
European Unionback to top F
Foundation Degrees (arts and sciences)
A grant for students resident in Wales to cover part of their tuition fees.
UCAS term for the offer that an applicant has accepted as a first choice.
What it says on the tin: the first degrees open to you when you leave school and enter higher education. Courses normally last three or four years full-time and usually result in a bachelors degree (though there are many exceptions).
A higher education qualification, awarded after two years full-time study at a university or college; courses are designed in conjunction with employers to meet skills shortages. These should give credit to the first two years of an Honours degree, although you may need to take an extra term or summer school.
Full-time (of students and staff)
Full-time equivalent (eg FTE student)
FE covers courses leading to qualifications also offered by schools, together with some vocational qualifications. However, the distinction between FE and HE (higher education) is muddied because some universities and HE colleges offer FE courses, and some FE colleges offer all or part of degree courses.back to top G
General Certificate of Secondary Education, usually taken at school at age 16. Grade C in English and maths GCSE (or equivalent) is required for many first degree courses
General National Vocational Qualificationsback to top H
The government funding body for universities in England. There are parallel bodies in Scotland (SHEFC) and Wales (HEFCW).
Higher National Certificate/Diploma
Scottish qualification taken in school; recognised by universities towards satisfying their entrance requirements.
Include most Masters degrees, PhD etc; you usually need a first degree in order to undertake a higher degree
Refers to the education undertaken by students aged 18+, that is designed to build on qualifications largely taken at school. HE courses lead to a degree (or HND, FdA/FdSc or DipHE) and are offered by all universities and colleges of higher education; confusingly, some HE courses are also offered, in whole or in part, by some FE colleges.
Students ordinarily resident in the UK or EU; they pay the Home student rate of tuition fees and most will be entitled to a student loan to cover the fees.
First degrees that are classified into four classes of Honours (first, upper and lower second, third class honours)back to top I
Information & communications technology
International General Certificate of Secondary Education taken primarily by 14-16 year-olds. These are widely offered by schools overseas and, increasingly, by schools in the UK.
UK governments assess loans and grants for independent students without reference to their parents’ income. Independent students are aged 25 or over, are married or have supported themselves for at least three years, or have no living parents.
The offer an applicant has accepted as a second choice through UCAS
Qualification taken in most international schools and an increasing number in the UK. It is recognised by universities as satisfying their entrance requirements (and by UCAS in the points tariff).
Are students from outside the EU. They pay tuition fees that reflect the full cost of providing the tuition and are not usually entitled to any financial assistance from the UK government.
Independent Students’ Bursary, is a a non-returnable grant made to students in Scotland, aged 25 and above, from low-income households.
International Student Identity Card, which allows students to get discounts across the world.
Initial Teacher Trainingback to top J
Junior Common Room , the undergraduate student community (and its common room); mostly used at colleges of the universities of Oxford and Cambridgeback to top K L
Local Education Authority
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Society
Bachelor of Lawsback to top M
A non-returnable grant made to students from low-income families, resident in England and Northern Ireland (similar grants in Wales are called Assembly Learning Grants; in Scotland, SAAS Bursaries).
Are usually higher degrees, taught or research based. However, some first degrees lead to Masters (many courses at Scottish universities; and throughout the UK some extended undergraduate science courses leading to eg MEng). On successful completion of a Masters degree, you can put designated initials after your name eg MA (Master of Arts), MBA (Master of Business Administration) or MEng (Master of Engineering).
Bachelor of medicine & surgery
Middle Common Room, the graduate student community (and its common room); mostly used at colleges of the universities of Oxford and Cambridgeback to top N
An accreditation organisation for drama courses.
A confederation of 600 students’ unions in universities throughout the UKback to top O
Provides an independent system of complaint against universities in England and Wales
Office of Fair Accessback to top P
Oxford University’s course in politics, philosophy & economics
A post-16 qualification (developed by Cambridge University International Examinations), which prepares students for university studies.
Part-time (of students or staff)back to top Q
Ensures that universities across the UK maintain standards in higher education qualifications
Qualified Teacher Status, qualifies you to teach in state schools in England and Walesback to top R
Research assessment exercises are undertaken every few years for all universities and colleges at the same time. Quality and quantity of research varies widely between universities and between departments. Some universities are research-led, others are not. The most recent Research Assessment Exercise was published in December 2008.back to top S
Students’ Association (sometimes used as an alternative to Students’ Union)
Student Awards Agency for Scotland
Non-returnable grants made to students resident in Scotland from low-income families: YSB for young students who are studying in Scotland; ISB for students over 25; and SOSB for those studying outside Scotland.
Non-returnable money, traditionally awarded by universities to students of talent; often now bursaries by another name.
A term used by many universities to mean something like a department or faculty (confusing if you are still at school).
Senior Common Room; the community of teaching staff and fellows (and its common room).
EU education action programme with various programmes within it, eg Erasmus and Lingua. All UK universities have some involvement in the student mobility programme and all subjects are covered. To spend time in the EU on one of these programmes, your institution must be a participant; and if your course is approved, you may get help with the extra costs involved
Student Loans Company
Students Outside Scotland Bursary, is a non-returnable grant made to students from low-income families, who are resident in Scotland but studying outside Scotland
Students’ Representative Council (sometimes used as an alternative to Students’ Union)
Administers loans and grants to students resident in Scotland.
Two separate government-funded loans for home students: one to cover tuition fees (paid direct to the university); one for maintenance. Student loans are repaid once you are earning.
Administers government-funded student loans and grants across the UK
Students’ Union. the local students’ representative organisation in a university or college. The SU will provide eg representation on university committees, welfare and entertainment services.back to top T
The quality of higher education teaching is assessed as part of a rolling programme, subject by subject. The published results evaluate the quality of the learning experience in the overall teaching of that subject, and there are hundreds of subject reports on individual universities and colleges. Some of them were written long ago, so things will probably have changed a good deal; others are much more recent. Reports are available on the QAA website.
Are the fees students are charged by universities to cover the tuition. Home students usually pay up to a maximum (currently £9000 pa), with a variety of help in the form of loans and sometimes grants. International students pay the full cost of providing the tuition.back to top U
The UK application system for most first degree courses
Provides an advisory service for international students.
University of London Union.
Is an offer of a place to an applicant which requires no further examination passes.
Usually refers to a student on a first degree course; some universities use the term to describe all students who are not graduates (ie including those on non-degree courses)back to top V W X Y
Is a non-returnable grant made to students from low-income families, who are both resident in, and studying in Scotland.back to top Z
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