Students in accommodation drinking tea

Support Hub

Welcome to the ARU Support Hub. Take the mystery and confusion out of applying to university - we've answered the most frequently asked questions and concerns we hear from applicants.

Why university

What is the point of going to university?

University is truly an opportunity like no other. There are many aspects that make going to university an amazing experience, but the first thing you should consider is what you really want to achieve and learn. Studying a subject or vocation that fascinates you, taught by knowledgeable and supportive experts at the top of their field, is an option that everyone should seriously consider. 

Going to university isn’t just about studying to achieve your future goals. University is also about finding your yourself, experiencing new things and enjoying the journey of personal growth. Meeting your deadlines, budgeting your money, paying your rent and bills, taking part in social events and finding new extra-curricular activities - university can help to nurture your sense of responsibility and give you new-found independence.

Another benefit of university is that you will also be surrounded by like-minded students in a supportive and friendly community. Whether it’s on your course, through sports, social events, or when you join a society through the Student’s Union, you’re guaranteed to find people that share your passions, hobbies and interests. Most graduates find that they form friendships at university that last a lifetime. 

Whether you should attend university or not is a decision that only you can make. It’s important to remember that it’s no-one else’s choice. If you think receiving a degree will help make your ambitions a reality and attending university will give you a chance to become the best version of yourself, you shouldn’t hesitate to apply. 

If you think uni might be for you, why not explore our undergraduate course pages.

Am I smart enough to go to university?

Achieving a good degree isn’t necessarily about how smart you think you are, but more about how much effort you are willing to put in to succeed. At ARU, we believe that if you are studying a subject that you are passionate about and you’re prepared to work hard while you’re here, then you will achieve fantastic results.

If you struggle with certain academic skills and you’re worried this might hold you back, our friendly and supportive experts at Study Skills Plus will be able to help you throughout your degree.

I’m worried about whether my study skills are up to scratch for university.

If you’re concerned that a specific study skill might cause you to fall behind on your course, then our Study Skills Plus programme can help. Offering support with academic skills, IT skills, information skills, maths and stats skills the Study Skills Plus team are available to enhance your chances of success while you’re at ARU.

I’m not sure what career I want. Does that mean I shouldn’t do a degree?

Not at all! You don’t necessarily need to know what career you want, but while you’re studying with us we would love to help you try and work out what you want to do next. That’s why we offer a wide range of services to help support you and prepare you for tomorrow’s workplace.

Our Employability Programme is very popular with our students, as it works with you throughout your time at ARU. As you explore your interests we can help you secure work experience, placements, volunteering opportunities and we even offer support for your start-up ideas.

What if I get homesick?

Most students struggle with homesickness at one point or another during their time at university. It’s totally normal to feel this way, especially as moving away and living independently is such a big change for many students. Our recommended remedy for homesickness is to really get stuck into university life and make the most of all the opportunities available to you at ARU. If you find you are still struggling with homesickness then you can always talk to a friendly professional from our Counselling and Wellbeing service.

How do I find the right course for me?

When you’re applying for university it can be really hard to know which is the right course to choose.

A great start is to try and attend a UCAS Higher Education Fair. This is where you will be able to pick up prospectuses from a wide range of universities and have a chance to speak to their representatives.

Attending open days and applicant days can be a huge help, as you get the opportunity to speak to current and students and lecturers. These are the people who can give you the best insight into the course and it’s content.

However, if you’ve been unable to attend an event yet, then you can still arrange to visit us or speak to one of the fantastic course lecturers. If you don’t think you will have a chance to visit, make sure you carefully read through our course information, student testimonials and take note of the different modules you will be studying throughout your degree.

Application process

Does ARU make unconditional offers?

We operate a policy of mainly making unconditional offers to applicants who have already completed their qualifications. However, we do take into consideration predicted grades, personal statements, references and our assessment of ability to succeed when making unconditional offers. These factors will differ from course to course, so make sure you know what the entry requirements are for the course you want to study. Find your course through our course search or browse our subject areas.

Do I have to attend an interview?

Some courses require you to attend an interview. If you are invited to attend an interview it’s important that you respond by the deadline. If we don’t hear back from you, we will assume that you no longer wish to apply and your application may be withdrawn.

How long does it take to receive an offer?

A decision will be made on your application once we have all the necessary information - this may include interview outcomes, test results, portfolio or written work. Once we have all the required information we aim to make a decision within five working days. This may take longer if an interview is required, or if your application has to be referred to the faculty for a decision.

How do I apply for a taught postgraduate course?

You can apply for our taught postgraduate degree courses online. There's an application link on each full-time and part-time course page. Find your course through our course search or browse our subject areas.

It can take up to four weeks to consider applications, so we recommend you apply at least a month before your preferred start date.

If you're interested in applying for a postgraduate research course, please visit our Research admissions page.

Finance

Can I afford to go to university?

If you're considering going to university, seeing the course fees and estimating the cost of moving out can be very overwhelming. However, the important thing to remember is that there are lots of different types of financial support available.

Undergraduate study can be funded by using a combination of student loans, grants, scholarships and bursaries. Your entitlement to these is calculated on an individual basis. However, the tuition fee loan is available to anyone applying for an undergraduate course at a publicly-funded institution. This will cover the full cost of your course, so there's no need to worry about paying for the course itself.

There is also a loan available to cover your living costs whilst you are at university. The amount you are entitled to depends on your household income and where you choose to live whilst studying. You can use the Government’s student finance calculator to find out how much you maintenance loan you are entitled to each year.

Depending on your situation, you may be entitled to additional grants and allowances. These are typically income or needs assessed and have been created to ensure that higher education is accessible to all. You can read more about time in our grants and allowances section.

Most universities offer scholarships and bursaries, which change from institution from institution. For example, at ARU we offer a Merit Scholarship that is available to any undergraduate students that have earned BBB or above. This could entitle the applicant to an extra £1,000 worth of funds. It’s worth finding out if there are any scholarships or bursaries you can apply for that will help with the cost of studying.

There are plenty of options when it comes to making university affordable. Make sure you find out what exactly you are entitled during the application process.

I’m worried about the cost of university and graduating with debt.

The cost of university is one of the most common concerns amongst applicants. At ARU we have a range of scholarship and bursary programmes that can help you get the financial support you need to complete your studies.

If you’re taking out a student loan with Student Finance England, you won’t have to repay anything until the April after you graduate. Even then you’ll only pay 9% of any earnings over £25,000 a year. After 30 years any outstanding loan will be wiped regardless. It’s a system designed to ensure that you contribute to the repayment in line with what you earn after university.

I might have to get a part-time job while I study.

It's common for students to need to work part-time during their studies in order to cover their living costs. That's why ARU has an on-campus recruitment agency called ARU Temps, which can help to find you paid part-time work opportunities that fit around your studies. Our job vacancies board features a wide variety of internal and external roles that could complement your studies or just earn you a bit of cash.

How does Student Finance work if you've applied through Clearing?

There's no need to worry. If you've already applied for finance, but you've confirmed a place at a university through Clearing, you won't need reapply again. All you need to do is change the course provider details on your student finance application. Student Finance England and Student Finance Northern Ireland let you do this online, but Student Awards Agency for Scotland and Student Finance Wales require you to get in touch.

Will I get charged interest on my student loan?

Yes, you will pay interest on your student loan.

During your studies, your interest rate will be 6.3%. This is calculated by using the Retail Price Index (RPI), then adding another 3%. The current RPI is set at 3.3%.

This is the interest rate you will pay until the 5 April after you have finished or leave your course, unless the RPI changes in that time. 

Once you have graduated, your interest rate depends on your income within each tax year. 

There is more information about repaying your student loan on the Government website.

Do I have to pay the tuition fees upfront?

There's no need to pay the tuition fees upfront. Students can get a tuition fee loan that will cover the full cost, paid directly to the university or college. The student loan has been created so that the borrower will not have to repay until they are earning at least £25,000 per annum.

To find out more about student finance and fees, you can find lots of information on our help with finances pages.

I’ve never had to budget my own money before.

Being able to effectively budget your money is an invaluable skill that you’re likely to learn whilst you’re studying, so don’t worry if you aren’t sure how to do it yet. At ARU we have a fantastic Money Advice Service who offer specialist, impartial and confidential advice to help you with budgeting and money management. You can drop into the iCentre in Lord Ashcroft Building. You can even visit the team before you start at university.

Clearing

What is Clearing?

Clearing is a system that matches applicants to university places that haven’t been filled yet.

If you have made a UCAS Undergraduate application that doesn’t hold any offers, you are able to apply for Clearing.

Clearing is a great opportunity for many applicants for a number of reasons. You may not have met the terms of your conditional offers. You may have decided at the last minute that you would like to apply for university. Or you may feel that you want to change your course or original university choice.

Find out more about Clearing at ARU.

When does ARU open Clearing?

You can check ARU’s Clearing course list from 1 July. We also accept Clearing applications from 1 July. Clearing typically runs through to September, but we recommend applying early to avoid disappointment.

Can I apply through Clearing if I’m returning to education?

Definitely! If it’s been a few years since you took your last exam, that’s no problem. No matter what you’ve been doing since you were last at school, you can always apply through Clearing to kickstart your education career again. If you already know your results, you’ve got a head-start. Simply find your course on our Clearing course list and apply online from 1 July. We’ll get back to you before A-level results day, so you can start preparing for your exciting new chapter.

What if my results don't meet the entry requirements?

During Clearing some universities may give you an offer that is lower than the one listed on their prospectus. However, this really depends on the demand that each university and course is receiving, as well as how high the grades are of the other students who are also applying through Clearing.

If you want to know for sure if your grades are going to be an issue, enquire directly to the universities you are interested in.

If you want find out more about the Clearing process at ARU, feel free to contact us.

I’ve been offered a different course through Clearing.

If you are applying through Clearing, there is a chance that you won’t be offered a place on the course you originally applied for. This could be because the courses are full, or it might be that you aren’t eligible, as this can change from university to university. You may be offered an alternative course instead, which can also be a fantastic opportunity. It’s important to make sure that you consider any offer you are made carefully and do some research to find out if an alternative course might be a great choice for you.

Will ARU have accommodation available if I apply through Clearing?

We won’t be able to guarantee accommodation if you apply during Clearing, but we usually have more than enough accommodation available for our Clearing applicants across all of our campuses. If you are applying to ARU via Clearing, make sure you have taken a look at our accommodation options and read through our frequently asked questions.

Can I transfer to ARU during Clearing?

If you are interested in transferring from your current university, Clearing could be an opportune time and ARU will happily accept your application. You can apply online, directly to us, from 1 July. Simply indicate on the application form that you're applying for admission with prior learning, and let us know which year you'd like to join (for example, Year 2).

When we're reviewing your application, we'll ask to see a transcript from your current university or college. This is a record of the modules you've studied so far and the grades you've achieved. You can apply first and send the transcript to us later; we'll email you to ask for a copy.

Living at University

I’m not sure I can afford student accommodation.

  • The cheapest on-campus accommodation in Cambridge is £152.04 per week, which covers utilities, furniture and internet.
  • The cheapest on-campus accommodation in Chelmsford is £132.86 per week, which covers utilities, furniture and internet.

If you feel like you may not be able to afford our accommodation, then make sure you get in touch. Our Residential Service will be able to talk you through the best living options for you and our Finance Team will be able to help you work out a budgeting plan.

What if I don’t like my accommodation?

Many applicants get a chance to see all of the accommodation options during open days, but some applicants don't see their accommodation until the day they move in during freshers week. No matter whether you have or you haven't seen where you're going to live in person, finally moving in to a new room can be overwhelming.

It's important to give yourself time to settle in, but if you arrive to your new accommodation and you feel that something isn’t right then you should get in touch with your accommodation team. If you feel like you would be happier elsewhere they will always be willing to talk you through your other potential accommodation options. However, University accommodation will be dependent on availability.

The accommodation team at ARU will always work with you to make sure you are in a living situation where you feel safe and happy.

If I’m living in private accommodation will I still have the same university experience?

Living at home or renting private accommodation doesn’t mean that you can't immerse yourself in student life. Renting will give you the chance to be a part of the local community and will give you a real sense of what it is like to live independently. You can search on our official property website StudentPad to make sure that you find private accommodation that gives you a good balance between independence and university living.

Can I go to university and live at home?

Living at home is a great opportunity to keep costs down, especially if you live in a convenient distance from campus. You will still meet like-minded students on your course, in societies and at events, so there’s no need to worry about missing the social side of university life.

If you attend an ARU open day you will have the opportunity to tour our student accommodation. Even if you are planning to live at home during your degree, it's still worth taking part in the tour to give you a feel for what university might be like if you opted to live on campus. 

Do you provide accommodation for students with disabilities?

We understand that certain medical conditions, disabilities and life events can have a big impact on day-to-day living, so many of our rooms already have some useful features to help you make the most of living in university accommodation. If you have other adaptations or considerations in mind, you can let the university know so they can do their best to facilitate your needs.

What do you get in your university room?

What is supplied in your room may change from university to university. However, you can probably expect the following as standard:
  • Single bed
  • Wardrobe
  • Desk and chair
  • Desk lamp
  • Chest of drawers
  • Mirror
  • Bookshelf
  • Noticeboard
  • Rubbish bin
  • Under-bed storage space (some rooms include a storage box too)

Will the university help me find private accommodation?

If you ask the accommodation team at whichever university you apply for, they should be able to provide you with advice and support throughout the process. New students can sometimes be easy targets for renting scams, which is why your university should help you to ensure that who you are renting from meet Local Trading Standards.

If you apply to ARU, you can use our very own Studentpad property listing platform. The properties shown on this platform have been reviewed by the Residential Service, so the basic rental paperwork has been checked before we agree to advertise it. You can also use the message board where you can find spare rooms posted by other student

Do I get to choose my housemates?

If you choose to live in university accommodation, you are usually placed with other applicants who have made the same accommodation choices. If you have special requirements, your accommodation team should be able to tackle these. For example, if you require single sex accommodation options, you will be given an opportunity to disclose this when you apply.

Typically, you are not able to choose who you live with if you are opting for university accommodation. However, if you get in touch with the university they may be able to help in exceptional circumstances.

If you would rather choose your university housemates, it may be best to opt for private accommodation. Knowing a group of people you can apply for private accommodation with may even streamline the process.

The idea of living with people I don’t know makes me nervous.

Moving in with people that you don’t know can be a source of great anxiety for some applicants. It’s important to remember that the majority of first year students will be going through the same experience as you are when you arrive, which means they may be just as nervous. The first few weeks of university is an intense and exciting time. You’ll be meeting lots of new people all in one go and not just people in your accommodation. There will be students from your course, students attending freshers events and students who join the same societies as you. This is good news, as it means you can meet lots of different people and form friendships where it feels natural.

It’s important to be polite and kind to your housemates, but there is no pressure to be friends with them exclusively. If you help to keep your communal spaces clean and you are respectful of their personal space and their right to be able to study in the accommodation, you should have no problems. That being said, many university students find that the friends they make in their first year accommodation end up being friends for life.

Qualification types

What is a BA (Hons)?

BA (Hons) is a Bachelor of Arts degree with honours. This is awarded to undergraduate courses that typically cover subjects to do with the liberal arts, such as humanities, literature, history, social sciences, communications and foreign languages.

The benefit of a BA (Hons) is that you traditionally study a broader spectrum of topics, giving you the chance to select modules that align with your own interests and goals.

Take a look at ARU’s BA degrees to find a course that is the perfect fit.

What is a BSc (Hons)?

BSc (Hons) is a Bachelor of Science degree with honours. This is awarded to undergraduate courses that typically cover scientific topics such as chemistry, physics, biology, technology, mathematics, computer science, nursing and biochemistry.

The BSc (Hons) is traditionally a more specialised degree, making it the ideal choice for someone who is focused on one specific subject.

If this sounds like the right choice for you, ARU have a number of different BSc degrees available.

What is a BEng (Hons)?

BEng (Hons) is a Bachelor of Engineering degree with honours. This is a professional undergraduate degree that is accredited by one of the Engineering Council’s professional engineering institutions.

The BEng is an excellent choice for students with a keen interest in science and mathematics. With engineers in high demand across multiple disciplines, there are a variety of career paths available to BEng (Hons) graduates.

If you’re interested in exploring engineering, ARU has BEng (Hons) degrees available.

What is a LLB (Hons)?

LLB (Hons) is a Bachelor of Law degree with honours. This is a professional undergraduate degree that is accredited by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and the Bar Standards Boards (BSB). It is the first step to becoming a solicitor or a barrister in the UK.

The LLB (Hons) is also a great choice for those who want to hone their legal knowledge for careers in business, finance or public service.

ARU offers LLB (Hons) degrees that are the ideal blend of study, professional practice and mentoring.

What is a foundation course?

If you are currently working towards your A levels or BTEC qualifications, you don’t necessarily have to jump straight to studying a degree.

Many universities also provide foundation courses or degrees that have a foundation year. This is a great way to bridge any skills gaps you might have from further education to higher education, provide additional support from qualified professionals and some foundation options will even provide an additional qualification.

You can find ARU foundation courses by visiting our course search and selecting 'Full-time with foundation year' as your mode of study.

What is a FdA?

FdA stands for Foundation Degree of the Arts. This is a Level 4/5 qualification that is typically undertaken before a BA degree.

What is a FdSc?

FdSc stands for Foundation Degree of Sciences. This is a Level 4/5 qualification that is typically undertaken before a BSc degree.

What is a placement year?

A placement is a great opportunity for students to gain valuable work experience whilst studying for their degree. Employability is an important factor to consider when choosing what to study, so incorporating a year to form industry contacts and gain first hand experience working in your chosen field into your degree may the ideal choice for you. To find a course with a placement option visit our course search and select 'Full-time with placement' as your mode of study.

Why would you choose to do a Masters degree?

A masters degree is an ideal choice for students that want to extend their knowledge beyond a Bachelor degree. If you want to continue to study the same topic, you will be given the opportunity to conduct independent research and develop your thoughts and ideas in your field.

However, some students opt for a Masters in order to switch their area of study or make a career change. It’s important to check that the course you are interested in takes students from different Bachelor backgrounds.

Some students choose to study for a Masters degree as it has the potential to accelerate their career growth. Not only will a Masters degree potentially give you the upper hand compared to other colleagues and interview candidates, but you will also be more knowledgeable in your respective field.

Why not explore the masters degrees available at ARU.

What is an MA?

An MA stands for a Master of Arts. This is a Level 7 qualification that is typically undertaken after a BA degree.

What is an MSc?

An MSc stands for a Master of Sciences. This is a Level 7 qualification that is typically undertaken after a BSc degree.

Health and wellbeing

I’ve struggled with my mental and emotional wellbeing in the past, will there be support at university?

We understand that studying can become difficult if you aren’t in the right frame of mind, mentally or emotionally. Most universities should now be able to offer wellbeing support to all students, but it’s important to check if support is available before you apply. That’s why we offer all of our students a free and fully confidential Counselling and Wellbeing Service. We have a range of professionals on hand who will be able to help you.We offer a drop in service 11.00am – 12.00 noon each day in Chelmsford where you can be seen by a counsellor or a mental health adviser.

What if I get homesick?

Most students struggle with homesickness at one point or another during their time at university. It’s totally normal to feel this way, especially as moving away and living independently is such a big change for many students. Our recommended remedy for homesickness is to really get stuck into university life and make the most of all the opportunities available to you at ARU. If you find you are still struggling with homesickness then you can always talk to a friendly professional from our Counselling and Wellbeing service.

Will I be able to have an active lifestyle at university?

Definitely! When you get to you university your main focus will be studying, but it’s also important to ensure you are living a balanced lifestyle. Most universities have gym memberships, gym discounts and sports societies available. University is a great opportunity to learn a new sport or start a fitness regime affordably. At ARU, we know that you might not want to spend hours in the gym, which is why we offer a wide array of activities to help integrate exercise into your life.

I don’t really know how to take care of my personal wellbeing.

Starting university can be a very intense experience, which is why it’s important that you know how to look after yourself and what will help you manage this first few months. However, there are many people who might not know how best to look after their physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. If you don’t know much about wellbeing, university can be a great place to learn. At ARU we offer wellbeing workshops throughout the year to help you understand how to manage your thoughts and feelings. These workshops can equip the confidence to succeed in your studies and enjoy university life without in a way that supports your wellbeing. The type of workshops we offer include:
  • Art therapy
  • Introduction to mindfulness
  • Combating unhelpful perfectionism
  • Self-esteem and confidence
  • Stress and anxiety management
  • Stress management and mindfulness
  • Person Centred Creative Arts Skills Group
  • Combating negative thinking
  • Managing worry

Do universities have their own health services?

Many universities either have a medical on campus, but if not there will either be an assigned university medical centre, or you can register with a local GP. During freshers week you will be signposted to the relevant health services and encouraged to register in the are where you are studying. It’s very common to get ‘freshers flu’ during your first few weeks of university, so you may be grateful to be signed up to the doctors nearby. Your university health centre should also have good links with local specialists. Such as psychiatrists, sports physicians, psychotherapists, counsellors and physiotherapists.

Will my university offer disability support?

Absolutely. Your university should always provide information, advice and specialist support to students with disabilities, ongoing medical conditions and specific learning difficulties. The ARU Disability and Dyslexia Advisers will always offer individual, friendly and supportive consultations to discuss your support needs. Our students can attend our every day drop-in service where you can come and discuss anything in confidence without booking an appointment. The ARU team can provide a wide range of support, including ensuring you have the correct equipment, access to facilities, applications for Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) and exam or timetable adjustments. For more information about the support you can receive, along with our contact details, visit our Disability and Dyslexia Support page.