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Higher Education jargon buster


Bachelor’s Degree

This is a full undergraduate degree qualification which generally takes three to four years to complete on a full-time basis.

BA, BSc, LLB, BEng, Bed

These titles refer to the subject discipline of your course. For example, BA = Bachelor of Arts, BSc = Bachelor of Science

Foundation Degree

Foundation Degrees can offer a different route onto a bachelor’s degree for anyone with qualifications slightly below the entry requirements for the course. They usually take one year to complete full time.

Sandwich course

This is a course which incorporates a placement year where you will spend a year in industry.

Single Honours

An undergraduate degree in which students study a single subject.

Joint Honours/Combined Honours

An undergraduate degree in which students study more than one subject.  


The first level of study in Higher Education


Higher education study for students who have completed an undergraduate degree. This may be a Master’s degree or a PhD.

Applying to university


A prospectus is a book produced by individual universities with details about the courses they offer and support available at their institution.

UCAS - Universities and Colleges Admissions Service

This service deals with university applications to UK universities and colleges, as well as providing general advice and guidance.

Personal ID

The 10 digit number given to students when registering on UCAS Apply.

Personal statement

The personal statement forms part of the UCAS application. Students use this document to explain their suitability for the course and their reasons for applying. Students can only write one personal statement that goes to all their application choices and are limited to 47 lines or 4,000 characters.


The UCAS tariff is used to allocate points to post-16 qualifications for entry to Higher Education.

Conditional offer

An offer made to an applicant by a university or college, whereby the applicant must fulfil certain criteria before they can be accepted on the relevant course.

Unconditional offer

An offer given to a student by a university or college, whereby the applicant has satisfied the criteria and can attend the course with no conditions to meet.

Firm choice

The offer that a student has accepted as their first choice.

Insurance choice

The offer that a student has accepted as their second choice in case they do not meet the requirements of their firm offer. Usually the insurance choice will have lower entry requirements.

UCAS Extra

This service is for students who have used all of their 5 choices on their UCAS application and have either been unsuccessful or wishes to change their course/university. This runs from the end of February until the beginning of July and students can make one application at a time. You’ll be asked to pay an extra £11 application fee in UCAS Track.


Clearing allows students who didn’t receive offers, declined their offers, didn’t get the grades they needed, or have not previously applied, to apply for courses at universities that still have places available. Clearing begins from June through to August.

Deferred entry

This is when a student makes an application but delays the start of their course until the following academic year.

Student life


First year students are often referred to as ‘freshers’

Halls of residence

Student accommodation made up of individual flats that house between 5 to 8 students on average. Flats can be mixed or single sex occupancy and may have en-suite or shared bathroom facilities. 

SU – Student Union

This is an organisation run for students, by students. The student union represents the student voice and puts together social events, sport clubs and societies. 


Tuition Fee Loan

Money borrowed from Student Finance England that can cover the full cost or part cost of tuition fees, paid directly to the university.

Maintenance Loan

Money borrowed from Student Finance England to help fund all aspects of university such as accommodation, food and travel costs.


Money that is assessed based on the income of the household.

Scholarship and bursaries

These are non-repayable sources of funding that support students through university. Scholarships are usually awarded in recognition of excellence and achievement and bursaries are usually awarded in relation to personal circumstances.