Studying for a new career is an option that many Service personnel leaving the Armed Forces look at. Returning to full-time education may involve choosing a course related to your previous Military experience or you may decide to study a completely different subject that can lead to a fresh career altogether.
By Alison Dando
Although this year’s ofﬁcial UCAS deadline for university applications was back in January, it still isn’t too late to grab a place on a course, either in higher or further education – but if you are looking to study in 2018, then you will need to be quick.
With some research and planning, the move from the barracks to the classroom can still be a smooth one. Here’s our lowdown on how to get your foot in the academic door and open up the educational route to a new career after the Military.
The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) is the centralised service that all students use to apply to university. Pretty much everyone who wants to study towards an undergraduate degree in the UK will have to apply through UCAS.
If you know the university course you’d like to study and have the necessary prerequisites and qualiﬁ cations to join, now’s the time to do your research before you submit an application. Check out which universities run your chosen course or subject and review their websites for more information and availability for the coming academic year. It’s also important to research similar courses which would still enable you to study in your chosen area, even if you can’t get on your ﬁrst choice course – this can widen your options when it comes to late applications.
Many universities also hold open days in early summer which are worth booking onto or put in a call to the admissions department of your preferred university to talk through your situation and discuss your options.
UCAS has a clear application cycle, but if you have missed the main January deadline for your chosen university course or did not get an offer from your original course application(s), then there are other opportunities to secure a place this year, even if it’s on a similar or alternative course.
Here’s what to do next:
If you managed to submit an application in January but didn’t receive any offers for your original ﬁ ve university choices, or you have since had a change of heart, then UCAS Extra comes into play.
UCAS Extra is open from late February until 4 July. It allows you to make a sixth choice of university. Actually, you can apply for as many courses as you like but they can only be submitted one at a time. UCAS Extra can be a successful route for students who want a second go but do not want to wait until Clearing starts in July.
For more information, search for UCAS Extra at: www.ucas.com
Last year, over 50,000 people obtained a university place through the Clearing system. UCAS Clearing effectively matches universities that still need students, to students that need a university. Universities use Clearing to ﬁ ll remaining places so if you are late applying for a 2018 course, this is your chance.
You can also use Clearing if you didn’t get the exam results to get into your ﬁrst choice universities or if you didn’t receive any offers when you ﬁrst applied.
Clearing this year opens on 5 July and will close for applications on 20 September. Places are awarded on a ﬁrst come, ﬁrst served basis so it’s important to get your application in as soon as possible. You will need to register ﬁrst – but once you have your Clearing number you can really get started. With this year’s Scottish Highers results out on 7 August and A-level results on 16 August, you should aim to apply well before these dates, as this is when demand for the service will be at its peak.
Once clearing is open, all vacancies are shown on the UCAS site, along with grade requirements, and they are updated in real time, so you can see which courses are still available. If there is a university you particularly want to attend, give them a call once Clearing has opened and ﬁnd out more about their listed courses before putting in your application. Your ﬁnal choice of university will also be determined by location, accommodation and your ﬁnances, so make sure you factor all of this in when you do your research.
Some universities also accept direct applications as well as via UCAS, particularly for two-year degrees, part-time courses or courses that start in July or January so do keep your eyes open for them – and be prepared to think a little outside the box when it comes to accepting a course – a joint degree or a related subject for example, could still get you to your ﬁnal career goal.
For more information search for UCAS Clearing at: www.ucas.com
‘11th hour’ opportunities
Even if you ﬁnd yourself considering a return to education with the start of the 2018 academic year just a few weeks away, there is still a chance that you can get on a course.
Many colleges continue to accept student applications well past posted deadlines and some colleges, particularly further education colleges, have rolling admissions, which means that they continue to accept students until the class is ﬁlled. College open days held in late summer/early autumn can also be an indicator of places still to be ﬁlled so contact the college directly to ﬁ nd out more and discuss what options are still available to you.
Plan for next year…
There is a lot to consider when looking to return to full-time education and once you start exploring your options you may decide to defer applying for the course that is right for you until next year. If so, you can use the coming months to ﬁ ll in any gaps in your qualiﬁ cations and look for relevant experience or paid work to strengthen your course application in 2019. Then you will be well and truly ready when the wheels of the UCAS application system start turning again early next year.
For more information on the University Application process and dates for 2018 and 2019 go to: www.ucas.com
Check out these great tips and insider knowledge on the application process at: www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk
For details on the ﬁnancial support available for students, visit: www.gov.uk/education/student-grants-bursariesscholarships