What is a campus university?
The term ‘campus university’ in the UK normally refers to a newer university, often built on the edge of a city, which is generally purpose built with everything on one site. Some examples of these are the universities of Warwick, Reading, Bath, York, Sussex and Loughborough.
Some universities have of course expanded and no longer situate themselves on only one site so it can be debated whether they are truly any longer ‘campus’ universities - the University of Nottingham is a good example of this.
It's important to understand that these different types of universities can provide very different study experiences. A student at Sheffield for example is unlikely to live on the same site as the faculty where they study. A student at Warwick will find that everything is within a short walk. Research is therefore key to any UK application. The University Guidance team at BIS guide students through this research phase with a comprehensive list of visits from UK university representatives throughout the academic year. Many of the staff of BIS will have been educated in a British university themselves (whether red-brick, campus or other) so we do encourage our students to speak to their teachers and indeed to BIS alumni to learn from the experiences of as many people as they can.
Year 13 student Kimberley who has recently made successful applications to UK universities advises: “Research thoroughly into the different modules universities have to offer and their student experiences to ensure that you choose the university that is right for you. Research the type of university - if you are going to spend 3 years of your life there you need to be sure that it is the right place for you to continue your studies.”
So how do you go about applying to the UK?
The UK uses one common application system known as UCAS (University and Colleges Admissions Service). You can select up to 5 different universities on one form which is submitted electronically. The UCAS website has many useful videos and other resources which will help to make the process run more smoothly.
The following are application deadlines for UK courses beginning in September 2021:
- October 15th 2020 - If the choices include any of the following: Oxford, Cambridge, Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Science.
- January 15th 2021 – For all other universities or courses – does not strictly apply to international students but for competitive universities and courses it is wise to apply before this date.
Your Personal Statement
While it may be true that US applications often involve writing multiple essays as opposed to the one statement for the UK, this does not mean it lacks importance. The strength of the Personal Statement can certainly be the deciding factor for students who otherwise have similar grades. The Personal Statement should give a clear indication of why you want to study the particular major you are applying for, and why you think you would be a successful student in this field. The statement cannot mention universities by name as it will be read by all 5 institutions. Other interests should also be mentioned in the statement, but 70-80% of the statement should be focused on your subject major.
In the CUG team at BIS we will provide comprehensive advice on Personal Statements but students are also at liberty to seek advice from the many subject experts within the wider teaching community at the school.
Kimberley discusses her personal experience of the UCAS application process:
“University application to the UK is fairly straightforward. There is the research aspect: getting to know the different universities and the modules they offer, and writing the Personal Statement. Since there is only one Personal Statement sent to five universities, you have to make sure that it eloquently showcases the best of your abilities. Academically rigorous UK universities prefer students to show interest in their chosen discipline beyond the classroom. I therefore tailored my Personal Statement to a more academic nature. The University Guidance team also provided us with sample Personal Statements for the UK, which helped us to find the right balance for our specific chosen universities.”
A top tip when writing your UCAS Personal Statement is that UK admissions officers do not like statements which overuse clichéd language - the document is more formal than a US application essay.
What are ‘conditional’ offers?
Once you have submitted your UCAS application you will eagerly await your university offers. A conditional offer is an offer which is subject to your final IB Diploma result. It may contain a ‘sub-offer’ E.g. 36 points with at least 665 from the three Higher Level subjects. Conditional offers can also include English language requirements, such as IELTs, although IBDP students are often exempt if they achieve the required level or hold an IGCSE of a certain grade.
What are ‘Firm’ and ‘Insurance’ choices?
Once you have had replies from all 5 universities you need to select a 1st and 2nd choice university from your conditional offers. These are known as your ‘Firm’ and ‘Insurance’ offers. Normally you would choose a university as ‘Insurance’ which has a slightly lower conditional offer than the ‘Firm’ university. If you meet the condition of the ‘Firm’ choice then you are guaranteed a place. If you do not meet the ‘Firm’ conditions but you do meet the ‘Insurance’ conditions, then you are guaranteed a place at your ‘Insurance’ university.
Applying to Oxbridge Universities
Applying to the University of Oxford or Cambridge, collectively known as ‘Oxbridge’ should not be taken lightly as the process is extremely rigorous with an early application deadline of October 15th.