Jargon Busting

Get an overview of the different words used in the world of Higher Education, from alumni, to means testing and seminars. Our jargon buster will have you covered

  • Alumni

    This normally refers to students who have graduated from a particular university. For example, a student who graduates from the University of Bristol with a degree in Psychology would become a University of Bristol Alumni.

  • Bursary

    Non-repayable additional financial help that is usually awarded to students based on their personal circumstances or coming from a low-income family. Bursaries can enable more students to access Higher Education.

  • Campus University

    This is a university all situated in one place and normally includes student accommodation, teaching and research facilities and leisure and sport facilities. UWE is an example of a campus university with the largest campus situated at Frenchay in Bristol.

  • Clearing

    Running from July to October this allows students to apply for a higher education course directly with an institution if they are not already holding an offer from a university or college. Universities and colleges use this to fill up places on their course and can be one route for students to find a suitable place.

  • Conditional offer

    When you apply to higher education, universities and colleges will decide whether to accept you based on their entry requirements. If you meet these requirements they may give you a conditional offer which normally means you will have a place as long as you get the exam results they have asked for.

  • Credits

    Each module/unit you study as part of a Higher Education course is worth a certain number of ‘credits’. When you pass the module/unit, you achieve the credit. The more credits you complete, the closer you get to achieving your degree. In the UK, most undergraduate honours degrees require 360 credits. Each module/unit is usually worth between 5 and 60 credits. The more credits a module/unit is worth, the more time you need to invest in it.

  • Deferred entry to Uni

    This means applying to university or college and then taking a year out or gap year before you start, perhaps to work or travel. Not all courses and HE providers offer this as an option.

  • Degree Apprenticeship

    These combine working with studying part-time at a university or college and allow students to gain degree level or masters level qualifications. They can take between three and six years to complete. They are fairly new and there are a limited number of vacancies but it is anticipated that these will grow over the next couple of years.

  • Dissertation

    This is an important independent research project normally completed in the final year of an undergraduate degree. Students are able to choose a topic they are interested in and carry out research to increase their understanding of a topic.

  • Distance Learning

    This is a way of studying where students are not required to be physically present in a university or college. Lectures and information may be accessed online. This form of learning can be particularly beneficial for students who want to study a certain subject but who are unable to move to study at a particular university or college.

  • DSA

    Disabled Students' Allowances cover some of the extra costs you may have because of a mental health condition, long term illness or any other disability. You would get this on top of your other student finance and you would not need to repay it.

  • Firm Choice

    After making your university or higher education applications you'll probably get some offers and maybe some rejections. If you do get offers, you can choose one of these to be your 'firm' choice which means that if you get the grades they want you can go there.

  • Foundation Degree

    These are intermediate work related courses usually studied over two academic years. Once you have finished your foundation degree you often have the option to top up to a related honours degree with further study.

  • Foundation Year

    Universities are starting to offer more foundation year courses. These enable students to have an additional year to prepare before joining a full honours degree. The entry requirements for foundation years are lower than for full degrees.

  • Fresher

    A student who has just started their first year at university or college.

  • Graduate

    A person who has successfully completed a course of study or training. This term is particularly used to describe someone who has been awarded an undergraduate or honours degree.

  • Higher Education

    Optional education after the age of 18, which can either be a university or college course, or a Degree or Higher Apprenticeship with an employer.

  • Honours Degree

    An undergraduate degree where a student has achieved a minimum of 360 credits.

  • Insurance Choice

    Your back-up course chosen when applying for a Higher Education course at university or college in case the entry requirements for your preferred course are not met. Your insurance choice entry requirements would usually be lower than the preferred (firm) choice.

  • Lecture

    Formal talk delivered to a group of students by an academic member of staff or an expert in their field. Students would usually be expected to listen and take notes, although there can be some interaction with the speaker involved.

  • Maintenance Loan

    Repayable loan available to full-time Higher Education students that is used to pay for accommodation and living costs. The amount available depends on your household income, where you study, where you live and how long for.

  • Means Testing

    The process of measuring how much income a person or household has in order to decide if they should receive money from the government. Means testing will also determine how much money is awarded.

  • Module

    As part of your Higher Education course at university or college you will be completing lots of different subjects. These are usually referred to as ‘modules’ or ‘units’. You need to pass certain modules/units before you can graduate. Modules/units can vary in their size and duration meaning that for some you will have to invest more time than others.

  • Open Days

    A day when an organisation such as a school, college or university invites members of the public to visit in order to see the things that happen there.

  • PhD

    Is a degree awarded to people who have completed advance research into a particular subject. PhD stands for Doctor of Philosophy and is the highest university degree offered by universities in most countries. It is awarded across a variety of academic fields.

  • Placements

    Student work placements are when a student temporarily works with a host employer to gain experience as part of a school, college or university initiative. Work placements are typically unpaid.

  • Post Graduate

    Is a student who has already received one degree and is studying at university for a more advanced degree.

  • Referencing

    Is used to tell the reader where ideas from other sources have been used in a piece of work. When writing a piece of work and using someone else’s words or ideas, you must reference them.

  • Seminar

    A classroom-based teaching activity in smaller groups, usually about 20-30 students. Seminars often involve discussion and group work and are much more interactive than lectures. They can be similar to your classes at school.

  • Scholarship

    University scholarships are non-repayable and are usually rewarded to students who are outstanding in their subject, sport or music. Scholarships sometimes need to be applied for and are often competitive. They are available for undergraduate and postgraduate students.

  • Tariff Points

    The entry requirements of Higher Education courses at university or college are usually described as Tariff Points (also called ‘UCAS Tariff Points’) or grades, sometimes both. Post-16 Level 3 qualifications that you complete in school or college (e.g. A-Levels or BTECs) are worth Tariff Points. The higher your grade in a subject qualification, the more Tariff Points you get.

  • Unit

    As part of your Higher Education course at university or college you will be completing lots of different subjects. These are usually referred to as ‘modules’ or ‘units’. You need to pass certain modules/units before you can graduate. Modules/units can vary in their size and duration meaning that for some you will have to invest more time than others.