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We've gathered a wide range of resources to help you explore the benefits of higher education and how to get there.

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Bust some myths

I have to leave home and live in halls of residence
  • I have to leave home and live in halls of residence
  • Uni doesn’t offer ‘hands-on’ work experience
  • I won't get a job or a good salary after uni
  • I won’t get the grades to go to university
  • There's too many graduates and not enough jobs
  • I can only go to university if I like academic subjects like Maths and English
  • I will always be paying my student loan off
  • I won’t be able to afford to make my student loan repayments

University provides an opportunity to move away from home and to live independently for the first time. However, it's your choice.

Around 1:6 students now choose to study locally and commute and there's lots of great higher education options across Greater Manchester.

But make your number one priority to identify the right course for you. Explore different subjects and where these might lead career-wise.  Be confident about your choice.

After which, you can weigh-up where to live. The choice of moving away or living at home will influence the amount of student finance support you receive.

Use University or College Open Days to speak to current students about how and why they made their decisions.

Degree or Higher Apprenticeships are great options if you are already confident of the career that you wish to pursue. These provide on-the-job experience and a higher education qualification and what’s more, there are no tuition fees.

However, an increasing number of full-time university or college degree courses offer work experience. These are often known as ‘Years in Industry’ or ‘Sandwich Degrees.’ These courses provide an opportunity to spend a year working in an industry related to your course. Usually taken in either Year 2 or Year 3 of the degree, they can also provide you with experience to equip you for the jobs market.

Typically, people who have a degree go on to earn more over the course of their lifetime when compared to those who leave education at age 18. They are also less likely to experience periods of unemployment.

But your choice of course, choice of university and the result of your degree can all be factors that can affect your future earnings.

However, don’t make your decisions based on earnings alone. Higher Education is about your personal development, new experiences and gaining a range of transferable skills which will serve you well in the long term.

And while some courses take you directly into a profession, many employers recruit regardless of the choice of degree subject, as they’re often more interested in the skills you have developed and how you will apply them.

It's expected that competition for university places will increase in the years ahead, due to increased demand from both sixth form and college leavers and adult learners. UCAS predicts that there could be 1 million applicants by 2026 - that's double the number compared to 2006.

All sixth form and college leavers are expected to have completed some form of Level 3 study (e.g., A-levels, BTECs, T-levels or an Advanced Apprenticeship). There are over 35,000 different higher education courses listed on UCAS. Each course comes with its own set of entry requirements which include the grades they expect you to achieve from those Level 3 qualifications. If you think you might just fall short of achieving these grades, always talk to that college or university first before you rile it out.

More young people are now looking at some of the alternatives to studying full-time for a degree at university.

Higher Technical Qualifications, such as a Higher National Diploma (HND) or a Foundation Degree, offer more practical learning and are employer-led programmes.

Higher or Degree Apprenticeships offer options to go to work and be paid but to also spend 20% of your time studying for a higher education qualification.

As we start to emerge from the COVID pandemic, there will be even greater demand across the UK for workers who have higher-level skills. By this, we mean people with Level 4+ qualifications.

In the years ahead, expect to see more higher education qualifications that are vocational, and which provide alternatives to undergraduate degrees. These will be directly linked to job roles which are in demand.

You can use Labour Market Information to explore which occupations will be in most demand in the future. Websites such as Bridge GM can help.

You can study almost anything that interests you and it doesn’t have to be all academic-based. Courses can be practical, theory-based, creative – or a complete mixture.

If you like the sound of a course, take some extra time to gather information and find out more:

  • What is the content of the course?
  • How is it assessed?
  • How many achieve a ‘strong’ pass mark?
  • What have students who have completed the course gone on to do?

Always be prepared to ask the questions that matter to you at University and College Open Days.

Only the very highest earners will repay all their student loans – around 20% of all students. After 30 years, the student loan will be wiped completely regardless of how much you still have left to pay.

Martin Lewis from moneysavingexpert.com says:

“What you repay solely depends on what you earn after university. In effect, this is financially a ‘no win no fee’ education. Those who earn a lot after leaving university will repay a lot. Those who don’t gain too much financially from going to university will repay little or nothing."

Changes to these rules are due come into effect for anyone starting a higher education course from September 2023 onwards.

You do not start repaying anything you have borrowed until you start earning £25,000* or more after you have graduated.

Repayments are taken each month from your salary and are charged at 9% above the £25,000* threshold.

The repayment term has been extended from 30 years to 40 years.

Read Martin Lewis's view on the changes here.

(*correct as of August 2022)


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