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About

This website was created and is maintained by the Schools Liaison team at Oxford Brookes University in collaboration with Magpie. The content is aimed at providing impartial and accurate information, advice and guidance about higher education in the UK.

The team are committed to widening participation in higher education by under-represented groups. To find out more about the activities we may be able to offer your school or college, please visit our website.

If you have any suggestions or feedback about the site, please email schools.liaison@brookes.ac.uk.

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University jargon buster

Helping you understand words and phrases concerning university.

A-Z OF UNIVERSITY JARGON

ACADEMIC SCHOOL
Subject departments in a university. Sometimes called faculties.
ACADEMIC YEAR
The university year which usually runs from September to May/June.
ACCESS COURSES
Designed to prepare students for higher education and usually run by local colleges.
ADMISSION OFFICE
The university department that processes applications and advises students on suitability of qualifications for degree courses.
A-LEVEL/AS-LEVEL
Level 3 qualification allowing entry to university.
ALUMNI
Graduates or former students of a university.
APPLICANT DAYS
After receiving an offer of a university place, students may be invited to an Applicant Day where they will find out more about their chosen course and university.

BACHELOR’S DEGREE
The qualification studied towards as an undergraduate, also known as a first degree or undergraduate degree. Can be a Bachelor of Arts or BA (generally associated with humanities, arts, language and social science subjects), a Bachelor of Science or BSc (for courses in science, technology and some business and social science subjects), a Bachelor of Engineering (BEng) or a Bachelor of Law (LLB).
BTEC
Level 3 qualification that covers a wide range of vocational subjects. Often taken as an alternative to A-Levels and can facilitate access to university.
BURSARY
Non-repayable financial support provided by universities for eligible students.

CAMPUS
The buildings and grounds of a university or college, including: teaching, accommodation, shops, sports and entertainment facilities.
CAMPUS TOURS
Students and their families can look around the campus and see the facilities are available. Current university students are often on hand to answer any questions.
CLEARING
A period in August (after exam results are released) when late applications can be submitted.
COMBINED/JOINT HONOURS
A degree in which a student combines two different subjects that may or may not be related.
COURSE
Set of programmes leading to a particular qualification.
CRB
Criminal Records Bureau. See ‘DBS’

DBS

Disclosure and Barring Service. Most health and social care and education courses will require students to be assessed by the DBS, formerly the CRB

DEFERRED ENTRY
Application for a university place (through UCAS) more than one year before you intend to start the course.
DEGREE
A qualification awarded by a university after a satisfactory level has been achieved.
DISABLED STUDENTS’ ALLOWANCE (DSA)
Non-repayable financial help from the government available to students with disabilities to help meet the additional course costs students may face as a direct result of a disability.
DISSERTATION/RESEARCH PROJECT
An extended essay or report (8,000-12,000 words) on a specific subject area, written in the final year of an undergraduate honours degree course.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS
Previous qualifications required for entry onto a university course.
EXTENDED DEGREE
A degree that includes a one-year foundation stage leading directly to Stage 1.

FACULTIES
(SEE ACADEMIC SCHOOLS)
FEE WAIVER
A discount on tuition fee costs.
FOUNDATION COURSE/YEAR
A one year course that is taken prior to commencing an undergraduate degree to bring students up to the required academic standard. Usually completed if you have not taken the correct subjects at Level 3, or if you have not achieved the correct grades.
FOUNDATION DEGREE
A qualification which combines work-based learning with academic study. The course is equivalent to the first two years of a Bachelors degree and can be topped up to gain an honours degree.
FRESHERS
New university students. A freshers’ week may be organised to enrol you on your course and introduce you to university life. This can include social events, society fairs, and introductions to the library and computer resources.
FURTHER EDUCATION (FE)
The level of education traditionally-regarded as between secondary school and university level. A-Levels, BTECs and Access courses are common examples.

GAP YEAR
A year out of study usually taken between school/college and university. Students often travel, study or work to gain experience and save money for university.
GCSE
General Certificate of Secondary Education. Universities take your GCSEs into account when assessing your application. You may be required to have specific grades in certain subjects.
GRADUATE
Someone on whom a degree has been conferred.

HALLS (OF RESIDENCE)
University-owned accommodation for students. Most commonly, students stay in halls during their first year of study before moving into rented accommodation in subsequent years, though some universities can provide accommodation later on.
HIGHER EDUCATION (HE)
Study beyond A-level, including higher national certificates (HNC) and diplomas (HND), foundation degrees, undergraduate degrees and postgraduate degrees.
HIGHER NATIONAL CERTIFICATES/DIPLOMAS (HNC/HND)
These are two-year practical courses. Students who successfully complete these courses may progress onto an appropriate undergraduate degree.
HONOURS (HONS)
Degree with honours – this is a full undergraduate degree.

INTERNATIONAL/EUROPEAN BACCALAUREATE (IB/EB)
Level 3 qualification allowing entry to university.

LECTURE
A formal presentation of ideas to a large number of students.
LEVEL 3 QUALIFICATION
These include A-Levels, BTECs, IB and NVQ Level 3.

MATURE STUDENTS
Usually applied to students who begin their undergraduate course when aged over 21. Somewhat different student finance arrangements apply.
MODULE
A unit or topic of study.

NVQ
National Vocational Qualification, available in three levels. NVQ level 3 is usually recognised as the equivalent to A-levels and therefore may facilitate access to university.

OFFER
A commitment made by a university to provide an applicant with a place on a course in the coming academic year. This may be conditional,(dependent on your Level 3 results), or unconditional.
OPEN DAYS
Students and their families can visit a university to find out more about the course and the university in which they are interested .

PLACEMENT
A period of study involving professional or cultural experience related to your course. This usually takes place away from the university, at a workplace.
POSTGRADUATE STUDY
A programme of advanced study or research undertaken by a student who already holds an undergraduate degree. Postgraduate degrees include Masters degrees and PhDs.
PROSPECTUS
A guide to a university with information on courses, facilities and student services.

SANDWICH COURSE
An undergraduate degree that includes a work placement or study abroad year.
SCHOLARSHIP
A non-repayable grant awarded to a student based on a range of criteria. This varies greatly between each institution. Scholarships are frequently awarded for merit. Regional scholarships are also being offered by some institutions to local schools/colleges. See individual university websites for details.
SEMESTER/TERM
The university academic year is divided either into either two semesters or into three terms.
SEMINAR
More interactive than a lecture. A group of students meet to discuss a subject with a tutor.
SINGLE HONOURS
An undergraduate degree focusing on one subject area (or group of related subject areas).
STUDENTS’ UNION/NATIONAL UNION OF STUDENTS (SU/NUS)
Every university has its own SU which can provide advice and guidance for students on many aspects of university life, as well as organising entertainment and social events. The NUS is a national organisation run for students by students.

TARIFF SYSTEM
Designed to help students calculate whether they meet course entry requirements. Read more about the tariff system on our Unipod tariff page.
TUITION FEE
Charges borne by students to help support the cost of their universities.

UCAS
University and College Admissions Service – administers all full-time higher education applications.
UNDERGRADUATE
A student working towards their first degree.

VISIT DAY
See ‘Applicant Day’

University jargon buster

Helping you understand words and phrases concerning university.

A-Z OF UNIVERSITY JARGON

ACADEMIC SCHOOL
Subject departments in a university. Sometimes called faculties.
ACADEMIC YEAR
The university year which usually runs from September to May/June.
ACCESS COURSES
Designed to prepare students for higher education and usually run by local colleges.
ADMISSION OFFICE
The university department that processes applications and advises students on suitability of qualifications for degree courses.
A-LEVEL/AS-LEVEL
Level 3 qualification allowing entry to university.
ALUMNI
Graduates or former students of a university.
APPLICANT DAYS
After receiving an offer of a university place, students may be invited to an Applicant Day where they will find out more about their chosen course and university.

BACHELOR’S DEGREE
The qualification studied towards as an undergraduate, also known as a first degree or undergraduate degree. Can be a Bachelor of Arts or BA (generally associated with humanities, arts, language and social science subjects), a Bachelor of Science or BSc (for courses in science, technology and some business and social science subjects), a Bachelor of Engineering (BEng) or a Bachelor of Law (LLB).
BTEC
Level 3 qualification that covers a wide range of vocational subjects. Often taken as an alternative to A-Levels and can facilitate access to university.
BURSARY
Non-repayable financial support provided by universities for eligible students.

CAMPUS
The buildings and grounds of a university or college, including: teaching, accommodation, shops, sports and entertainment facilities.
CAMPUS TOURS
Students and their families can look around the campus and see the facilities are available. Current university students are often on hand to answer any questions.
CLEARING
A period in August (after exam results are released) when late applications can be submitted.
COMBINED/JOINT HONOURS
A degree in which a student combines two different subjects that may or may not be related.
COURSE
Set of programmes leading to a particular qualification.
CRB
Criminal Records Bureau. See ‘DBS’

DBS

Disclosure and Barring Service. Most health and social care and education courses will require students to be assessed by the DBS, formerly the CRB

DEFERRED ENTRY
Application for a university place (through UCAS) more than one year before you intend to start the course.
DEGREE
A qualification awarded by a university after a satisfactory level has been achieved.
DISABLED STUDENTS’ ALLOWANCE (DSA)
Non-repayable financial help from the government available to students with disabilities to help meet the additional course costs students may face as a direct result of a disability.
DISSERTATION/RESEARCH PROJECT
An extended essay or report (8,000-12,000 words) on a specific subject area, written in the final year of an undergraduate honours degree course.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS
Previous qualifications required for entry onto a university course.
EXTENDED DEGREE
A degree that includes a one-year foundation stage leading directly to Stage 1.

FACULTIES
(SEE ACADEMIC SCHOOLS)
FEE WAIVER
A discount on tuition fee costs.
FOUNDATION COURSE/YEAR
A one year course that is taken prior to commencing an undergraduate degree to bring students up to the required academic standard. Usually completed if you have not taken the correct subjects at Level 3, or if you have not achieved the correct grades.
FOUNDATION DEGREE
A qualification which combines work-based learning with academic study. The course is equivalent to the first two years of a Bachelors degree and can be topped up to gain an honours degree.
FRESHERS
New university students. A freshers’ week may be organised to enrol you on your course and introduce you to university life. This can include social events, society fairs, and introductions to the library and computer resources.
FURTHER EDUCATION (FE)
The level of education traditionally-regarded as between secondary school and university level. A-Levels, BTECs and Access courses are common examples.

GAP YEAR
A year out of study usually taken between school/college and university. Students often travel, study or work to gain experience and save money for university.
GCSE
General Certificate of Secondary Education. Universities take your GCSEs into account when assessing your application. You may be required to have specific grades in certain subjects.
GRADUATE
Someone on whom a degree has been conferred.

HALLS (OF RESIDENCE)
University-owned accommodation for students. Most commonly, students stay in halls during their first year of study before moving into rented accommodation in subsequent years, though some universities can provide accommodation later on.
HIGHER EDUCATION (HE)
Study beyond A-level, including higher national certificates (HNC) and diplomas (HND), foundation degrees, undergraduate degrees and postgraduate degrees.
HIGHER NATIONAL CERTIFICATES/DIPLOMAS (HNC/HND)
These are two-year practical courses. Students who successfully complete these courses may progress onto an appropriate undergraduate degree.
HONOURS (HONS)
Degree with honours – this is a full undergraduate degree.

INTERNATIONAL/EUROPEAN BACCALAUREATE (IB/EB)
Level 3 qualification allowing entry to university.

LECTURE
A formal presentation of ideas to a large number of students.
LEVEL 3 QUALIFICATION
These include A-Levels, BTECs, IB and NVQ Level 3.

MATURE STUDENTS
Usually applied to students who begin their undergraduate course when aged over 21. Somewhat different student finance arrangements apply.
MODULE
A unit or topic of study.

NVQ
National Vocational Qualification, available in three levels. NVQ level 3 is usually recognised as the equivalent to A-levels and therefore may facilitate access to university.

OFFER
A commitment made by a university to provide an applicant with a place on a course in the coming academic year. This may be conditional,(dependent on your Level 3 results), or unconditional.
OPEN DAYS
Students and their families can visit a university to find out more about the course and the university in which they are interested .

PLACEMENT
A period of study involving professional or cultural experience related to your course. This usually takes place away from the university, at a workplace.
POSTGRADUATE STUDY
A programme of advanced study or research undertaken by a student who already holds an undergraduate degree. Postgraduate degrees include Masters degrees and PhDs.
PROSPECTUS
A guide to a university with information on courses, facilities and student services.

SANDWICH COURSE
An undergraduate degree that includes a work placement or study abroad year.
SCHOLARSHIP
A non-repayable grant awarded to a student based on a range of criteria. This varies greatly between each institution. Scholarships are frequently awarded for merit. Regional scholarships are also being offered by some institutions to local schools/colleges. See individual university websites for details.
SEMESTER/TERM
The university academic year is divided either into either two semesters or into three terms.
SEMINAR
More interactive than a lecture. A group of students meet to discuss a subject with a tutor.
SINGLE HONOURS
An undergraduate degree focusing on one subject area (or group of related subject areas).
STUDENTS’ UNION/NATIONAL UNION OF STUDENTS (SU/NUS)
Every university has its own SU which can provide advice and guidance for students on many aspects of university life, as well as organising entertainment and social events. The NUS is a national organisation run for students by students.

TARIFF SYSTEM
Designed to help students calculate whether they meet course entry requirements. Read more about the tariff system on our Unipod tariff page.
TUITION FEE
Charges borne by students to help support the cost of their universities.

UCAS
University and College Admissions Service – administers all full-time higher education applications.
UNDERGRADUATE
A student working towards their first degree.

VISIT DAY
See ‘Applicant Day’

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