Post-18 Options

Going to University

The idea of going to a university may seem daunting, but every year roughly a quarter of people aged 18 apply to courses up and down the UK. There is plenty of support available to help you make an informed decision about whether university is right for you.

FAQs about University

What is a university?

A university is an educational institution, which provides access to qualifications beyond level 3 (which is the highest level normally obtained within a school).

There are many reasons why people choose to go to university;

  • To achieve a degree: The main reason most people choose to go to university is because their chosen career requires a degree. Examples of jobs where this would be required are teachers, doctors, banking, dentists and vets.
  • To stand out to employers: Whilst not all jobs require a degree, many employers would look highly upon a degree holder as a potential candidate – so a degree could make your dream job more accessible.
  • To continue with education: Some people choose to go to university to continue with a subject they are passionate about, or because they enjoy education and wish to further their understanding.

The cost of university can be expensive, as you will need to pay the tuition fee for your course and potentially also fund your living expenses. However, there are lots of finance options available so that anyone who wants to access university can do so. Read our page on student finance for more information.

All universities are different, and cater for a range of different students. Some universities demand top grades to get onto their courses, but other universities are much more flexible with their entry requirements. You can find out more about entry requirements for specific universities on their websites.

No – this a common misconception. Up and down the UK there are around 164 universities, with 18 of those being in London, and others close by in Kent. It is perfectly feasible that you could commute to a university like you do to come to school now, allowing you to stay at home or in your local area. Some of our most local universities include Greenwich, Kent and Canterbury Christ Church.

Many young people do choose to move away from home as part of the university experience, but this is not for everyone, and you will find that there are still a lot of young people who choose not to do this. It is always possible for you to consider moving out during your course.

The first step is to decide what universities you want to apply to, and what courses you want to study. You can make an informed decision by attending open days run by universities, where you can meet the staff and current students and ask questions about the course. Universities publish information about open days on their websites, and you normally have to book to attend. You can also find a full directory of universities and courses offered on the UCAS website. UCAS stands for University and Colleges Admissions Service, and they are an organisation which coordinates all applications to UK universities.

Once you have decided what you want to study, and where, you need to apply through UCAS. If you are going to apply, we highly recommend you do so through the school so that we can support your application. Speak with your form tutor for more information on how to do this.

UCAS logo

Universities take people from all walks of life. You could apply to go to university at any time, however many people may find this challenging in later life due to family or financial commitments. It is therefore more common that people choose to go to university soon after finishing school. You could always consider taking a gap year before you start your course.

Student Finance

Students considering university need to consider how to finance the course.

Tuition Fees

A tuition fee is the cost of the course being offered. These are up to £9,250.00 per year which is paid directly to the university through a tuition fee loan.

Maintenance Loans

A maintenance loan is money provided by the Government through student finance to support your living costs at university. You get this money paid into your bank account at the start of each term. It has to be repaid after graduation when you have achieved the required salary threshold.

 Maximum for Academic Year 2022 to 2023  Loan Available
Living at home  £8,171.00
Living away from home outside London  £9,706.00
Living away from home in London  £12,667.00
Spending a year of a UK course studying abroad  £11,116.00

Maximum for Academic Year 2022 to 2023

Loan Available

Living at home

Up to £8,400

Living away from home outside London

Up to £9,978

Living away from home in London

Up to £13,022

Spending a year of a UK course studying abroad

Up to £11,427

The amount that a student will receive will continue to depend on their family household income. 65% of the loan is guaranteed with 35% subject to a family income assessment. In addition to these maintenance loans, many students choose to take part-time employment in order to supplement their income.

National Scholarships Programme

Most Universities offer bursaries with varying criteria. When researching different universities always look at the bursaries that they offer.

Universities and Colleges have their own rules on the National Scholarships Programme but they are designed for students whose family earn below £25,000.

  • – This provides a portal linking to each institution’s NSP scheme.
  • Eligible students will receive a benefit of not less than £3,000.
  • The money could assist with tuition fees, accommodation and a cash bursary of up to £1,000.

The amount of money which you will repay on your student loan will depend on a number of different factors. The most significant is the amount of money you earn (your salary) when you are employed after graduating. The government provide information on the different repayment plans on their website. This information can be found here.

You should also be aware of interest rates. Interest rates are the “cost of borrowing” the money in the first place, so you may be paying back more than you originally received in your total loan. The interest rates are calculated based upon the salary you are earning. If you are taking out student finance, the interest rates affecting your loan will be outlined during your application.

Additional Support


Apprenticeships offer the opportunity to learn in the workplace. You will be taken on by an employer who teaches you practical skills relating to the occupational area that you have chosen. You will spend one day a week at college where you will gain the theoretical support to achieve the specific qualifications for your chosen career area. You will be paid approximately £100 a week.

To research into different apprenticeship schemes look at which has a wealth of information and advertises a number of vacancies. Register on the site if you are interested in receiving details on specific apprenticeships schemes.

Some companies have set timescales when they recruit. It is important if you are considering an apprenticeship scheme that you look into opportunities and apply early. 

Advanced Apprenticeships:

A typical entry criteria: A minimum of 3 GCSEs (or equivalent) to include an A-C pass in English Language, double Science and Maths.

Higher Apprenticeships:

A typical entry criteria: A minimum of 5 GCSEs (or equivalent) at Grade B or above. Have or are predicted to gain 3 A Levels or equivalent at grades B or above.

Apprenticeships in some careers offer the opportunity of doing a Foundation Degree program. This is a two year program where you will be expected to study at university level either by attending university on a day release or distance learning.

Studying Abroad?

Following the rise in tuition fees a number of students are considering combining a gap year with their studies by studying abroad. Certain European countries teach their university courses in English so it is a real possibility to spend three years in a foreign country while gaining a degree. University fees for some countries are considerably cheaper than studying in the United Kingdom.

Students can choose to study at a British university and spend a year abroad. Look into the different programmes of study on UCAS. These foreign courses are four year degree programmes with the third year in a foreign university.

Some students may consider studying at a British university and then spending a period studying at a European university. Erasmus Programme is a student exchange programme which promotes the growth of International Studying. Further details can be found at Erasmus Programme

Useful websites

  • Fulbright – for students looking to apply to an American university.
  • Study in Europe – for students interested in European universities.
  • Study in Holland – for students interested in studying a degree in Holland.

Gap Year

Students who have chosen some of the competitive courses like Medicine, Veterinary, Law  and Dentistry may choose a gap year as they may feel that they require additional work experience would enhance their personal statement. It is sometimes hard to complete all of the relevant work experience when you require a number of A grades at A level to be considered for a course.

Students who have aspirations of Cambridge and Oxford will have their grades before  making an application if they have chosen to take a year out. Cambridge and Oxford look for the top academic students and as it is competitive students with guaranteed results may be selected over and above students without their results.

Students choose a gap year if they would like to gain some work experience. This may be to help finance their time at university or they may have chosen to gain some valuable experience in an industry which will ultimately help when they have graduated.

Students could choose a gap year to travel, either for a short period or maybe for the whole year giving themselves the opportunity to experience different cultures and meet new people.

Talented sport students may choose a year out to compete before committing themselves to full time study.

Useful websites