Jargon Buster - Aimhigher West Midlands

When considering your next steps in education, whether it’s university or an apprenticeship, people might start using words and phrases you don’t understand. We’ve created a jargon buster to help you become more familiar with some commonly used words.

Access Course

It is never too late to go to university and lots of colleges offer access courses which support mature learners back into education.


This is extra financial help provided by a university or college for students from households on lower incomes. It does not have to be paid back.


The grounds and buildings of a university or college.


The qualification awarded to students upon successful completion of a course of study in Higher Education. There are different abbreviations depending on the type of degree – BA Bachelor of Arts, BSc Bachelor of Science, BEng Bachelor of Engineering, BEd Bachelor of Education.

Entry Requirements

Many universities and colleges set a combination of entry requirements. This could be a specific qualification, subject or grade relevant to the course you’re applying for. Some universities and colleges use UCAS Tariff points in their entry requirements.


Term used to refer to new higher education students.

Gap Year

A year away from education that some students take before going to university. Often students will use their gap year to travel or to gain work experience and additional qualifications.


A person who has successfully completed a degree.

Halls of Residence

The accommodation where most higher education students live during their first year of study. Normally flat-like accommodation. You will share with other students but have your own private room to make your own if you move out of your home.

Higher Education

Higher Education is the next step in education after students have completed their BTEC, A-levels or equivalent qualification at College or Sixth Form. You can study a Higher Education course at a university, a college or as part of a higher or degree level apprenticeship. Whilst completing Higher Education, students will be working towards achieving an Undergraduate Honours Degree, a Foundation Degree, a BTEC Professional Certificate or a Degree Apprenticeship. There are also commonly referred to as Level 4 (or above) qualifications.


A presentation of information by a member of academic staff (lecturer) to a large group of students.


A unit of study within a degree that explores a specific area or subject.


A method of teaching at university. Large classes in a room with tiered seating and a lecturer talking at the front while you take notes.

Open Day

A day where you can visit the university and experience it first hand, meeting staff, visiting teaching facilities and taking a look at student accommodation. There are also additional Applicant Visit Days and Offer Holder Visit Days you can attend after application or once an offer has been received.


A printed or online brochure that advertises a university or college and their courses.


A student who has completed an undergraduate degree and is studying for a higher degree, such as a Masters or PhD.

Sandwich Course

Degree programmes which include some time working in a related industry or studying abroad.


The teaching term at University. Similar to school terms, there are typically 3 university semesters.


A class at university where a specific topic is discussed in a smaller group.

Student Loan

This is the loan to cover your fees and living costs. Unlike a grant, it will have to be paid back but only once you are earning over a certain amount.

Tuition fees

Tuition fees cover the cost of your study and may vary depending on what and where you study.


Smaller group or individual meetings with a member of staff.


The ‘Universities and College Admissions Service’ is responsible for processing applications for courses at universities in the UK. The application process (including choices and personal statements) is all done online via www.ucas.com

UCAS Adjustment

If you meet or exceed your firm choice, it is possible to swap where you plan to study.

UCAS Clearing

How universities and colleges fill any places they still have on their courses. You find courses with vacancies and contact universities or colleges directly to see if they will offer you a place.

UCAS Deferred Entry

Applying for a course then taking a year out before going to university.

UCAS Tariff Points

UCAS Tariff points translate your qualifications and grades into a numerical value. Many qualifications (but not all) have a UCAS Tariff value, which will vary dependent on the qualification size, and the grade you achieved.

UCAS Extra

If you used all five of your choices on your original application and you’re not holding an offer, you’ll be able to add another choice using Extra between February and July.

UCAS Offer

A conditional offer means you still need to meet the requirements (e.g. exam results). An unconditional offer means you’ve got a place, although there might still be a few things to arrange. Some universities make contextual offers to students whose personal circumstances may have restricted achievement at school or college. These offers are often one grade lower than the entry requirements.

UCAS Personal Statement

This is the section of your UCAS application form where you can tell universities and colleges about your suitability for the course(s) that you hope to study. You only have one statement for all five of your application choices.


A student who is currently studying their first degree.


A university is a place where people study for their degree, or other higher education qualification. There are over 150 universities in the UK and more than 240 colleges with higher education courses.