navigating the process of applying for university can be challenging, so we have created a handy jargon buster to help you recognise certain terms you may hear.
adviser – someone who provides your child with advice and supports their application. this could be a teacher, tutor, or agent.
application centre – a school, college, or organisation that can help students apply to higher education. for undergraduate students this will usually be their sixth form college.
clearing – a service your child can use to look for alternative courses. whether they didn’t receive offers, declined their offers, or didn’t get the required grades. clearing runs from early july to mid-september and allows students to apply for courses that still have vacancies.
conditional offer – your child may receive an offer of a place at university subject to meeting certain conditions – usually exam results.
confirmation – applicants that meet the terms of a conditional offer on results day will get a confirmation message, meaning they have successfully achieved a place on a course. applicants can track confirmation decisions online with ucas.
entry requirements – this is what a university expects the student to achieve to secure a place. these vary from course to course.
firm choice – a way of selecting your first choice once offers have been received. if it’s a conditional offer, it’s subject to getting the required grades. if it’s an unconditional offer, the place is yours.
further education – the level of education completed at school or college before university.
higher education – education at universities or similar educational institutions.
insurance choice – an offer marked as a second choice, just in case the student doesn’t meet the conditions of their first choice (firm choice). typically, this should have lower entry requirements.
open day – gives a broad taster of university life and are typically attended during the application process, when students are thinking about which universities to apply to.
placement year – an additional year of a course where the student works in the profession they’re studying towards.
ucas application – undergraduate students apply to university through ucas, which drives the application process for british universities.
ucas extra – a service used to apply for alternative places if no offer is held from your first five choices.
visit day – once your child has received an offer to study at university they might be invited to attend a visit day. this is where they will find out about their chosen course, meet tutors, and have the chance to look at the department where they will be studying.
a-level – the general certificate of education advanced level (gce a-level or a-level) is an academic qualification taken in england, wales, and northern ireland by students.
as level – the common term for the advanced subsidiary or first part of a full a-level qualification.
btec – stands for business and technology education council qualifications which can be taken to gain entry into higher education.
honours degree – most undergraduate degrees in higher education can come with honours, which is a distinction of quality. usually awarded for completing the full three-years (or more) of study and passing the maximum number of modules on offer.
ucas tariff – this system allocates points to the different qualifications a student can use to get into university.