Category Archives: Student Advice

Working on your UCAS application? here’s our handy guide:

Applying to university or college isn’t as complicated as it sounds, so whether you are just starting your UCAS application, or you’re already working on it, we hope this handy guide will help navigate your way through.

A low angle view of a female couple sitting in their living room together while working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. One woman is using a laptop on the floor while the other is using a digital tablet on the sofa and looking at her fiancée on the floor. Their dog is sitting on the sofa with his head on the shoulder of the woman on the floor.

Starting your application:

All students applying for an undergraduate course must make a formal application through UCAS which stands for the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. The UCAS website has loads of helpful information when you are considering applying as an undergraduate student.

All applications must be completed online via UCAS Hub, you need to pay UCAS £22.00 if you are applying for one choice, or £26.50 for two to five choices using a debit or credit card.

Young man sitting on a sofa in a living room setting with a laptop and wearing headphones.

What makes up an application?

  • Course choices (you can choose up to five)
  • Qualifications (you must enter all your qualifications from secondary education onwards)
  • Employment history (if you’ve had any paid, unpaid, or voluntary work)
  • Personal statement
  • Reference
Profile shot of a teenage girl lying on her bed on her stomach looking at her computer. She is about to press the keyboard, and has her other hand up by her face. She is in deep concentration on what she is working on.

Course choices:

You can apply for up to five course choices (with a few exceptions). There is no preference order, and your chosen universities and colleges will not see where you have applied until after you have responded to any offers made to you. UCAS will let you know how to accept or decline an offer of a place via the UCAS Hub.

For more information about completing your UCAS application head over to the UCAS website for a step-by-step guide.

Personal statement:

Writing your personal statement is an important part of the process when applying to university or college through UCAS. This is your opportunity to show your interest in the course, describe your future ambitions, skill sets, and experience which will set you apart from other applicants.

Watch our recent live Q&A session with our resident expert Kathleen Moran who regularly delivers training sessions to schools and colleges:

You can also check out this handy video from UCAS on how to plan, start, structure and finish your personal statement.

What happens after you have applied?

You will receive a welcome email from UCAS confirming your choices. The universities and colleges you have applied to will then decide whether to make you an offer. Some may ask you to come for an interview before taking that decision. Please check our key dates below.

The decision:

When you receive a decision from the universities or colleges you applied to, you’ll receive one of the following:

  • Unconditional offer: means you’ve got a place, although there might still be a few things to arrange.
  • Conditional offer: means you still need to meet some conditions– usually exam results.
  • Withdrawn application: means a course choice has been withdrawn by either you or the university or college. If the university or college has withdrawn your application, they’ll let you know their reason.
  • Unsuccessful application: means a university or college have decided not to offer you a place on a course. Sometimes they’ll give a reason, either with their decision or at a later date. If not, you can contact them to ask if they’ll discuss the reason with you

Don’t worry if you don’t get any offers – you might be able to add extra choices now or look for course availability later on.

Key dates:

  • 26 January 2022: Applications for the majority of UCAS Undergraduate courses should be submitted to UCAS by 6.00pm on this date. This is the ‘equal consideration’ deadline, which means universities and colleges must consider all applications received by this time equally. It is important to remember that once you have submitted your application that you might not receive an offer straight away so it’s best not to worry or panic if you hear of other applicants receiving theirs.
  • 25 February 2022: UCAS Extra opens
  • 19 May 2022: Universities and colleges decisions due on applications submitted by 26 January 2022.
  • 9 June 2022: Decision deadline for applicants who have received all decisions by 19 May 2022.
  • 30 June 2022: The deadline for late applications. Any applications after this date will automatically be entered into Clearing.
  • 5 July 2022: Clearing opens for eligible applicants.
  • 13 July 2022: Universities and colleges decisions due on late applications.
  • 14 July 2022: Decision deadline for late applicants who have received all decisions from universities and colleges.
  • 9 August 2022: Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) results day
  • 18 August 2022: Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) results day

Useful links:

Student safety: drink spiking

Recent news reports of allegations of drink spiking and spiking by injection have highlighted how important it is to be vigilant when out socialising. The university’s student services team has put together a handy guide below to help you stay safe.
A group of friends at the local pub having a good time

Student safety: We want to ensure our students are aware of how to keep themselves safe when enjoying a night out and have linked online resources in this blog which highlight how you can look after yourself and where to go for support should you be a victim of spiking. Our student support teams are also on hand to speak to whenever you need us.  

A group of young women enjoying a  night out together in a social setting

What is drink spiking? Drink spiking occurs when a substance, such as drugs or alcohol, is added to your drink without you knowing about it. It can happen in any situation and may affect how you act or behave with other people. However, there are things that you can do to protect yourself. 

How to avoid drink spiking: Please be vigilant with your drinks when in a social setting – this can be a bar, club, concert, or even a house party. Try to get into the habit of never leaving your drink unattended, and don’t accept a drink from someone you don’t know.  Possible symptoms of spiking may include:

  • Feeling drowsy
  • Feeling more drunk than expected
  • Difficulty in speaking and slurring of word
  • Memory loss
A person using their smart phone at a bar in a social setting with a wine glass placed nearby.

How to seek help: If you think you or a friend may have been spiked, seek help from the venue staff or a friend as soon as possible. We also encourage anyone who believes they have had their drink spiked to contact Police Scotland by dialling 101, or in an emergency dial 999.

Police Scotland recently issued a statement including further advice on what to do if you think you or someone you know have been spiked.

More information on how you can keep yourself safe and what to do if you think you have been the victim of spiking can be found on the Drinkaware website.

Top tips for preventing digital eye strain

With many of us spending more time than ever at our computer screens, Alison Macpherson, Head of Optometry, highlights the issue of digital eyestrain and how to avoid it.

2nd year BSc (Hons) Optometry students undertaking clinical skills at the Centre for Health Science.

When the clocks go back at the start of winter, optometry practitioners often see an increase in patients reporting difficulty with reading small print in the darker nights.

We often forget that the human eye is a finely tuned instrument which works best in natural daylight conditions, so reading outside on a bright summer’s day (with protection from UV rays of course) is a very different visual task to sitting in front of the fire on a cold winter’s evening reading the latest release from a favourite author. Similarly, the use of digital technology as a means of communication can have an impact on our visual system.

2nd year BSc (Hons) Optometry students during clinical skills.

The COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to cause challenges to our daily lives. Many of us are still working remotely from our kitchen tables or spare rooms and the format of our working day is considerably different from how it was before lockdown.

Our day to day lives have become dominated by technology. Our working days can consist of virtual meetings requiring long spells in front of a screen and, even away from work, our social interactions are now also facilitated via Zoom, Facetime or other virtual means. This means that large portions of our lives currently centre around display screen equipment.

BSc (Hons) Optometry students practising corneal examination using a slit lamp.

Using a screen or computer can be visually demanding and may cause symptoms which are not apparent when you carry out other work. Asthenopia (eyestrain) associated with screen use can manifest with a variety of symptoms including eye fatigue, discomfort, blurred vision, pain or generally sore eyes. Visually related symptoms can also be caused by factors such as ergonomics.

How to help these symptoms

  • Take regular breaks
  • Look away from your screen periodically and allow your eyes to refocus on an object at a different distance. A good technique is to use the 20-20-20 rule by focussing on an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds, every 20 minutes.
  • Adjust the settings on your screen including brightness, contrast and font size so it’s easier to see
  • Consider the distance you are sitting away from the screen – arm’s length is optimal for most people.
  • Regular eye examinations with an optometrist can help to identify any underlying causes that may be contributing to symptoms.
  • Optometrist, Nicola McElvanney, from Optometry Scotland, also recommends switching off screens at least half an hour before you go to bed, as this may upset the Circadian rhythms that help to control sleep patterns.

Interested in a career in optometry? Find out more about our BSc (Hons) Optometry degree and set your course for the future: www.uhi.ac.uk/optometry

Student survival guide whilst social distancing

Okay, so you are studying from home. How do you stay motivated? How do you find new things to do around your flat or house? Is social distancing affecting your mental health? Getting bored or stressed out? Here are some tips to inspire you during this period of self-isolation!

HOW DO I STAY MOTIVATED?

BREAK UP YOUR DAY. Check in with your friends for a chat, take regular breaks from studying and screen time, eat regular meals and avoid unnecessary snacking – go for a healthier option!

Blue the cat from Arran Video Conferencing into classes at Argyll College UHI
Blue the cat studying from Arran – shared by @argyll.uhi on Instagram

ORGANISE YOUR WORKSPACE. Do whatever you need to do to get into your work mindset, whether that’s having a manageable workspace, study snacks, house plants nearby – whatever prevents you from opening that Netflix tab…

CfH staff meeting online
Lucy Dean chatting to Centre for History colleagues via Video Conference – shared by @UHIHistory on Twitter

PREPARE YOURSELF FOR STUDYING. Try not to feel overwhelmed with your workload and pressure from the unfamiliarity of working from home. Don’t stay in your PJs – treat it like you are going to your lecture and get dressed.

TUNES ON. Check out Spotify’s chill playlists to get you into a good study rhythm and de-stress from current news articles. I recommend lofi hip hop & jazz for good background noise. Pick up your guitar, write some compositions, get inspired by what’s going on in the world around you! Sofa Singers are an online platform to share songs, poems or stories with people around the world through video chat – sing as if no-one’s listening! Up for jig? #CovidCeilidh is a great way to connect with fellow traditional Scottish musicians in creating a virtual ceilidh!

PLAN FOR THE FUTURE. Organise trips for when you are ‘free’ again to spend time with your friends. Browse Instagram travel feeds for where you might visit next. Make a ‘things I want to do’ list for when social distancing has finished. Where’s #1 on your list?

LET’S GET CREATIVE. Daily drawing for wellbeing is offering free online drawing classes to follow along to artist’s guides – get your sketchpad out! Rearrange your bedroom, draw landscapes from your window, write a blog, create a YouTube video, try TikTok, paint, read, write some poetry or try a social distancing inspired haiku. Feeling like you aren’t getting enough culture? Walk through virtual galleries from New York City to Seoul – just pretend you’re on holiday 😉

Susan, Art and Design lecturer from West Highland College UHI Portree campus continuing to support students online
Art lecturer Susan teaching online – shared by @whc.uhi on Instagram

SOCIALISE (DISTANTLY). Connect with fellow students, friends and family on Skype and WhatsApp groups – send virtual hugs!!! Help elderly relatives set up a Skype account or run errands for them. Stay informed by checking NHS Scotland and Scottish Government social media pages. You can also join the online Perth College UHI Book Club every Monday at 4pm and the ESOL Reading Club every Wednesday at 4pm. If you would like to take part, please email ramirez.jimenez.perth@uhi.ac.uk who will provide you with a copy of the short stories they are reading.

Online student quiz
MA Art and Social Practice student Charlotte Mountford organised an online quiz for fellow students – shared by @ChippedredNails on Twitter

YES, YOU CAN STILL EXERCISE. The Scottish Government advises you to cycle or go for a walk in your local park once a day alone, or people you live with. Make your home your gym with The Body Coach or with Perth College UHI’s Academy of Sport & Wellbeing daily workout videos. Take occasional 10min breaks from screens and do some yoga to stretch your legs.

SPRING CLEAN. Put on your beauty face mask, let fresh air in, light scented candles, get your laundry done and do some mindfulness. Clear out clothing you don’t need and consider donating them. Nothing feels better than having a clear mind and clean workspace.

FOOD! Share recipes with friends, get adventurous in your cooking and exchange top tips online. Post photos of your smoothies and baking creations! What’s your go-to study snack? Young people cooking

ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED? When you’re winding down, why not binge Netflix or Amazon? Scroll through their true crime docuseries or fun feel good comedies! Did you know you can download Netflix Party? shutterstock_771067417This allows you to binge watch to your heart’s content whilst live chatting with your friends. Get your snacks ready! Looking to have a virtual house party? Houseparty allows you to connect with friends and play party games. Looking for animal content? Edinburgh Zoo has live camera feeds of their tigers, koalas, pandas and more!

#ShareGoodNews. Find solace in good news stories & share them with us. Stay positive, we’re here for you if you need us!

Katie Masheter Birthday
#ThinkUHI staff member Katie Masheter celebrating her Birthday online with work colleagues. – shared by @KatieMasheter on Twitter

SELF-ISOLATION & SOCIAL DISTANCING IS AFFECTING MY MENTAL HEALTH

Remember that panic can spread faster than the virus; get the facts, not the rumours and listen to public health experts who can help navigate the path ahead. If you feel overwhelmed, voice your concerns with your course leader, personal academic tutor or local student support team.shutterstock_1317925382The charity Mind have produced resources on coping with stress and advice on making sure you are looking after YOU! Support helplines are also on our website. If you’re worried about your mental health, contact your local student support team OR access counselling through the online counselling service through the green button. Want to read further? Read through our Mental health blog. Stay up to date on current coronavirus information and FAQs.

TAKE CARE – SENDING YOU A VIRTUAL HUG!

Tag #ThinkUHI in your social media posts with your #ShareGoodNews stories Instagram, Twitter and Facebook 💜

Written by Sophie Macfarlane, Digital Marketing Assistant and 2019 university graduate