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Undergraduate FAQs

General

What is higher education?

Why should I go to university?

How do I apply for a course?

Who should provide my reference?

What qualifications do I need?

What funding is available?

Where should I study?

I’ve applied to Birmingham City University but now want to be considered for another course the university offers. What should I do?

My application has been unsuccessful. Can I find out why?

I’ve accepted an offer of a place for this year but I now want to defer it to the following year. What should I do?

What’s the difference between a firm acceptance and an insurance acceptance?


Q
What is higher education?

Higher education (HE) is used to describe the next level of study after further education (FE), usually at the age of 18 or over. Studying takes place in universities and HE colleges, as well as some FE colleges. HE qualifications include degrees (such as BA and BSc), Higher National Certificates/Diplomas (HNC/HND), Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE), Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE) and Foundation Degrees (FdA/FdSc).

HE courses can be studied full-time, normally over a period of two to four years, depending on the type of course and subject taken. Many courses can also be studied part-time, allowing you to combine studies with your work, while ‘sandwich’ courses include a year working full-time in a relevant industry.


Q
Why should I go to university?

Deciding to continue studying is a big decision, but there are many reasons why it can pay off in the long-run. Graduates on average earn £100,000 more over their working life than non-graduates, according to the Browne review into HE funding, while a graduate job may also be more enjoyable and satisfying, with better opportunities for promotion. Furthermore, an increasing number of jobs are only open to those with degrees – according to figures from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), three in 10 jobs now require degree-level skills.

At Birmingham City University, we are dedicated to raising our students’ employability – 83 per cent of our 2010 graduates gained employment within six months of graduation (Destinations survey 2009/10).


Q
How do I apply for a course?

Check the How to Apply pages for more information.


Q
Who should provide my reference?

Your referee should usually be:

  • a tutor from current or recent studies
  • an adviser who knows you
  • a present or former employer

Your referee should be able to comment in an objective and professional manner on your suitability for the course you are applying for. Relatives or friends cannot act as your referee.


Q
What qualifications do I need?

Universities accept a wide range of qualifications at Further Education (FE) level. Details of entry requirements for individual courses can be obtained from the university concerned or from UCAS. For mature students, and others from non-traditional backgrounds who don't have FE-level qualifications, universities may take into account their work or life experience. Alternatively, Access courses provide another route into higher education for those who don't have the relevant qualifications.


Q
What funding is available?

There are costs associated with studying at university, including tuition fees, living expenses and the cost of course books and materials. However, there is also a good deal of help available, and it is important to do plenty of research into the support on offer. All students are entitled to take out a loan to cover the cost of their fees and living expenses, which does not have to be paid back until they are in work and earning above a certain amount. Some students will also qualify for a grant, which does not have to be paid back, depending on their parents’ income, while universities also offer a range of bursaries for students from less well-off backgrounds. For more information, see our Money Matters page.


Q
Where should I study?

With so many universities around the country, choosing where you want to study will be a big part of your decision. You may decide that you want to continue to live at home, in which case you would need to see which universities are easily accessible. If you decide to move away, how far would you like to go? And would you prefer to live in a big city or somewhere more rural? Some universities are based on a single self-contained campus, while others may be spread around the town or city in which they are based.


Q
I’ve applied to Birmingham City University but now want to be considered for another course the University offers. What should I do?

If you decide that you want to be considered for another course we will try and accommodate this where it is reasonably possible. You should find out whether there are places on the course you now wish to be considered for before taking any further action. If there are places remaining and we confirm that we are able to consider you for the course, you will need to request that your application be reconsidered for the alternative course.

You may wish to consider compiling a new personal statement which is more relevant to the alternative course. Once the application has been reviewed and any selection processes completed, a final decision will be made.


Q
My application has been unsuccessful. Can I find out why?

It's not always possible for institutions to provide all unsuccessful applicants with individual reasons for why their application has been unsuccessful. However, if you contact the institution directly to request feedback, many will be happy to provide information about the reasons your application did not succeed and, in some instances, can provide useful guidance as to how you may be able to improve your chances of success.


Q
I’ve accepted an offer of a place for this year but I now want to defer it to the following year. What should I do?

Contact the Admissions Office to see if deferrals can be considered for your course. If so, you must usually formally request the deferral in writing.

Places can only be deferred for a maximum of one academic year. Conditional offers of places will only be successfully deferred if you meet any academic conditions set by no later than 31 August in the admissions cycle in which you originally applied.

If you're unable to take up your deferred place, you would be required to reapply for the course should you subsequently wish to be considered for entry.


Q
What’s the difference between a firm acceptance and an insurance acceptance?

Firm acceptances

When you accept an offer as your firm choice, this is your preferred choice of course and university. Accepting an unconditional offer as your firm choice binds you to going to that university only for the course you've been offered a place on.

Accepting a conditional offer as your firm choice enables you to state your preference of the university and course you want to go to out of any offers you may have received.

Insurance acceptances

If you are made a conditional offer, you can also accept a second offer as an insurance choice. You’re not obliged to accept an offer as an insurance choice, but doing so provides you with the opportunity to have a back-up in case you don’t meet the conditions of offer for your firm choice.

Some points to consider when accepting a conditional offer as an insurance choice:

If you are choosing a conditional offer as an insurance choice, you could think about selecting an offer with lower entry conditions than your firm choice. For example, if your firm choice offer asks for 280 points, you might consider accepting an offer of 260 points or below as your insurance choice. While it is possible to select an insurance choice offer which is the same as, or higher than, your firm choice offer, where will this leave you if you don’t meet the conditions of your first choice offer? You could potentially end up without anything to fall back on as you won’t have met the conditions for your insurance choice either!

You could think about selecting an unconditional offer (if you have one) as your insurance choice. That way, if you don’t meet the conditions of your firm choice, you won’t have to worry about whether or not you have met the conditions for your insurance choice.

Whatever choice you make, you need to be realistic about the course and university you are accepting as an insurance choice. If you don’t meet the offer conditions for your firm choice and meet the offer conditions for your insurance choice, you are bound to go to that university. Make sure you’ve visited the university and found out as much information as possible before making your decision. Remember, you could potentially end up studying there if you don’t get into your first choice university.

You don’t have to accept a second offer as an insurance choice if you don’t wish to. You can just choose one offer as your firm choice. However, a carefully chosen insurance place can provide some flexibility in the event that you don’t meet the conditions of offer set by your firm choice.