Are you struggling to get your head around all of the university lingo? We understand that coming to university can sometimes feel like visiting another country. Not only do people do things differently, but they also use language differently – sometimes using completely new words that you haven’t heard before, sometimes using words you’re used to but giving them a different meaning! Find out what some common confusing words really mean.

ACCREDITATION – an accredited course is one that has been approved by a professional body.

ADJUSTMENT – UCAS Adjustment allows students who have met all conditions of their conditional firm offer, and exceeded at least one, to be considered by other universities for alternative courses.

BACHELOR’S DEGREE – a three or four-year course studied after further education. Also known as an undergraduate degree.

BUZZWORD – a word given to students by their school or college to link their application to them. Students add their buzzword to their UCAS application.

CLEARING – an opportunity to apply for courses which still have vacancies towards the end of the recruitment cycle. If your child doesn’t receive any offers, declines their offers, or doesn’t get the grades they need, they will enter Clearing. It’s a great opportunity to get a place to study.

CONDITIONAL OFFER – an offer of a place on a course subject to achieving particular conditions – usually related to exam results. This is a common type of offer for students applying to university directly from A-levels or equivalent.

DEFERRAL – the option to carry over an offer of study to the following year.

EXTRA – UCAS Extra is another chance for an applicant to gain a place at university if they use all five of their choices but do not receive an offer. UCAS Extra is open between 25 February and 4 July and gives applicants with no offers the chance to make an additional choice.

FRESHER – an informal term for students in their first year of university.

FIRM CHOICE – an applicant’s first choice offer on a course.

HIGHER EDUCATION – university-level education, completed after further education.

FURTHER EDUCATION – the level of education completed at school or college before higher education begins. Students must complete their further education before moving on to university.

INSURANCE CHOICE – an applicant’s second choice offer on a course. Just in case they don’t meet the conditions of their firm offer.

MAINTENANCE LOAN – a repayable loan available to undergraduates throughout their studies to help cover their living costs. This is paid back after graduation once the graduate is earning over a particular amount.

PERSONAL ID – the ten-digit number an applicant receives when they register to apply to study through UCAS. It’s displayed on every email a student gets from UCAS and should be kept safe.

PERSONAL STATEMENT a piece of text (4,000 characters) written by your child when they apply for study through UCAS. It should demonstrate why they’re applying for a particular subject and why they would be a successful student.

SCHOLARSHIP – a sum of money given to students who fulfil particular criteria by their university. It doesn’t need to be re-paid.

TARIFF – the UCAS tariff system converts qualifications and grades into points so that universities can compare applicants and make appropriate offers. The UCAS tariff calculator is a useful tool for adding up UCAS points.

TUITION FEE LOAN – a repayable loan available to undergraduates to cover their tuition fees. This is paid back after graduation once the graduate is earning over a particular amount.

UCAS – the Universities and Colleges Admission Service, the independent body that students apply to if they want to join an undergraduate course in the UK.

UNDERGRADUATE – an undergraduate is a student who has not yet completed a university degree. Undergraduate study is the first year of study in higher education.

UNCONDITIONAL OFFER – an offer of a place on a course with no conditions. If your child gets an unconditional offer the place is theirs. This kind of offer is not as common as a conditional offer.

WELCOME WEEK – a week of activities and academic sessions to help first-year students settle into University life, make friends and get the information they need to begin their course.

Are you a parent or carer looking to find out more about your child’s journey to university? Please visit our parents and carers’ pages.