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Frequently asked questions


Accommodation

Is every student guaranteed on campus accommodation in their first year?

We guarantee accommodation to all first years who put Aston down as their ‘firm choice’ and who apply before the deadline.

Do the accommodation costs include electricity and council tax?

Yes, accommodation costs include all bills and full time students living with other full time students do not have to pay council tax.

Is the accommodation sociable? Is it easy to make friends?

Yes, in all of our accommodation there is a communal living area and kitchen.

Is accommodation first come-first serve?

No, all students who chose us as their ‘firm choice’ and applied for accommodation by the deadline are guaranteed a room. After these rooms have been allocated, we give out accommodation to our international students first and then to final year students returning from their placement year.

Do students have to vacate their rooms over the holidays?

No, the accommodation is available to students for the full 39 weeks, including Easter and Christmas.

Is accommodation guaranteed in the final year?

We can’t formally guarantee accommodation to all of our final years; however, we try our best to accommodate them. With the new accommodation there is more space available for returning final year students.

When should we start applying for accommodation?

The deadline for new Home and EU students to guarantee accommodation is Friday 22nd July 2011 New International Undergraduates have to apply by Friday 5th August 2011.

Can you apply for accommodation this year if you are deferring entry?

Yes.

If my son / daughter doesn't achieve the grades for his firm choice, will he loose out on accommodation if he has picked Aston as his insurance choice?

We cannot guarantee accommodation for students who choose us as their insurance choice; however, we generally have enough rooms to accommodate insurance choice students. With the new accommodation available for 2010, it is even less likely that a first year student would be unable to get a room on campus.

Are students from the same year grouped together in accommodation?

We try to place returning final years together rather than mixing them in flats with first year students. However, this cannot be guaranteed.


Entry to University

If a student is away on results day, can a parent get their results/ speak to universities?

Results can be accessed online so if a student gives a parent their login details, parents can access the results. However, if the student does not get the results that they were expecting then they will need to speak to the university themselves. Universities will not negotiate places with parents.

With the introduction of the A* grade, does this mean that the grade requirements can be flexible? For example, does A*BB equal AAB?

Some courses ask for a certain amount of UCAS points, in which case, the grade requirements can be slightly flexible. However, other courses ask for specific grades in certain subjects.

Are there any other admissions tests after A level results?

No.

Do universities in Scotland participate in clearing?

Yes, however, Scottish A level results come out a week earlier than in England and Wales.

How will Btech results get to the university? Do we have to send them in?

No, the results will be sent directly to the university.

If you are made an offer, and on results day find that you have missed it by a grade, what happens?

This depends very much on each individual case. If your son or daughter misses the grade it is best to check UCAS Track first as they may have been accepted anyway. If there is no decision there then they should check their email as an alternative course may have been offered. If there is no indication of a decision after checking UCAS track and their email they should contact the Admissions Team. Please bear in mind that phone lines will be very busy at results time. They should be prepared to give their Applicant ID number.

What is the proportion of international students across the university? 

In the academic year, 2008-2009, around 27% of the student population were international students.

If a student meets their offer, is the place guaranteed?

Yes – if we are one of your choices of university

Can you defer entry? And is this done through UCAS?

Students’ should contact us as soon as they know that they wish to defer their place. Normally this will only be permitted if the request is received in advance of the A level results. They should contact the relevant Admissions Team rather than UCAS.

When do you apply for university?

Students can apply from the September before they wish to begin their degree. Although applications can be made at any point after then, we recommend that all students apply by the first UCAS deadline in mid January as this guarantees that the application will be considered.

What happens with BTECs? Can you still get into university?

Yes, entry requirements are often in the form of tariff points and BTEC qualifications do qualify. However, some specialist degree programmes will ask for expertise in specific subjects so you will need to check with the university/course concerned if in any doubt.

Does it matter which college you went to?

No

What is an unconditional offer?

If you have this type of offer this means that you have been offered a place with no conditions attached.

What’s meant by the terms ‘firm’ and ‘insurance’?

The term ‘firm choice’ refers to your first choice university. Your ‘insurance choice,’ would normally have a lower grade requirement so that if you don’t meet the requirements for your firm choice you may still meet your insurance offer. If you don’t get a place at either your choices, and you still want to go to university that year, then you will have to go through the UCAS vacancies system called ‘Clearing’.

How is the offer made? 

Decisions are sent by universities to UCAS and then passed by UCAS onto you. You can view your status at any time via UCAS Track. Universities may also send you a congratulatory letter or email and this normally includes an open day invitation

How do we work out the offers, (in points) from qualifications? (Such as A levels.)

Each qualification is equal to a certain amount of tariff points, ie- a grade B at A level is equivalent to 100 tariff points. To find out what your qualification equates to, please visit http://www.ucas.com/students/ucas_tariff/tarifftables/

If your qualification isn’t included in the UCAS tariff you may still be eligible for an offer of a place and in this case you may be required to achieve specific grades

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Finance - General


What is the average spending cost of students per week?

This is very much dependent on the lifestyle of the student. If a student chooses to socialise then their spending will be higher than students who don’t. Also if a student is living away from home, then they will spend more than students who are living at home. An average is however, approximately £70 per week for a student living on campus (on top of accommodation fees and food).

Is there extra support available for dyslexic students?

Yes, additional support is available for home students who declare any kind of disability. The sooner this is declared the sooner additional resources can be arranged as required.

Does Student Finance take into account families who have more than one child at university?

Yes, this is taken into account. Family income only affects the grant (whether a student gets a grant or not) and the top 25% of the student loan award (which families with larger incomes are expected to pay)

Broadly speaking, Student Finance England will examine the family income to see if any contribution should be made towards the student loan for maintenance. The contribution, if any, will be split equally amongst the student children.

For instance, with 2 children at university -  if the family’s residual income is £70,000 they will be asked to contribute £964 towards the student loan; each child’s max loan of £4,745 will be reduced by £482 to that the overall family contribution remains capped at £964

Does Aston University offer scholarships?

No. Aston expects high grades as standard so it would be impossible to offer everyone a scholarship.

Does the student’s placement year salary affect family income assessment?

No

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Finance - Fees and Loans

Up to date information on fees and finance at Aston

What happens if our family income has changed dramatically from the previous tax year which is accessed?

If your family income has changed dramatically, please inform Student Finance who will look at each case individually.

Are older siblings salaries included in household income?

No

What are the tuition fees for international students?

International students pay much higher fees than Home or EU students. You will need to ask the University for details.

As tuition fees increase, will the loan for tuition fees increase too?

Yes.

How much are the tuition fees?

 The costs of tuition fees rises slightly each year. The fee for the academic year 2010-2011 is £3,290

Is the placement year bursary guaranteed?

Yes, students are given £1000 for doing a placement year and an additional £500 if they do a placement abroad.

If you don’t want a tuition fee loan do you pay fees upfront? Is it termly or annually?

You can pay by instalments. 50% on arrival followed by 25% at the beginning of the second and third term.

What support do low income families get?

Their son or daughter at university may be entitled to receive a student grant. They will also receive the full maintenance loan and may be entitled to a bursary from their university. At Aston this bursary is £800.

Do all students take a student loan? Are they allowed to invest it?

All students are entitled to a tuition fee loan and a maintenance loan. The maintenance loan is paid into the student’s bank account and can be used in whatever way they wish to use it. The tuition fee loan, if taken, is paid directly to the university to pay the fees.They can spend the maintenance loan as they wish including putting it into a high interest account if they do not need it to live on.

How and when do they pay back the student loan?

Students do not start paying of their loan until they have graduated and are earning over £15, 000 per year. This will be taken in monthly instalments directly from their bank account.

When should they apply for a loan?

The student finance application cycle is being aligned with the UCAS application cycle so that, as a student applies for their University place, they will also apply for their student finance. Student Finance England handles all the student finance applications. They are no longer managed by the local education authorities in each area.

Are loans available for non UK residents?

No

Is the student maintenance loan available during the placement year?

Yes, 50% of the loan is available during a paid placement year and the tuition fee loan is available too.

Is the loan enough to live on?

This depends on the individual but some students manage to live quite happily on the loan whilst at University. Many students work part time whilst studying, or during the vacation periods, to supplement their loan.

What is the maximum loan my child can receive?

The maximum maintenance loan for the academic year 2010-2011 is £3,838 if living at home and £4950, if living away. If your child receives a grant, the amount of maintenance loan will be reduced slightly

Is the tuition fee loan different to the maintenance loan?

Yes they are for different purposes. You may take both, one or neither.

Where can we find information on loans and grants?

For up to date information on fees and finance and a calculator to find out how much financial assistance you are entitled to, check out Student Finance

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/EducationAndLearning/UniversityAndHigherEducation/StudentFinance/index.htm

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Part Time Work

Do many students get jobs while they are studying?

Many students choose to work part time whilst studying although not all.

Is it easy to find part time work?

Yes, with the city centre on our doorstep there are a multitude of shops, bars and offices. Students who want to get a job generally find it fairly easy.

Are jobs advertised around the university?

Yes, students can look for jobs at the student job shop in the guild.

Is it manageable to have a part time job and study?

Yes, and students often find it a useful addition to their studies. However, Aston University strongly advises students to do no more than 15 hours a week otherwise it may start to affect their studies and other activities. This also changes through their course as demands on time increase, especially in their final year.

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On Campus and Birmingham

What kind of social activities are there?

The Students' Union works hard to organise a variety of social activities. In addition to the numerous clubs and societies. The Union arranges comedy nights, charity events, parties and the annual graduate ball, to name a few.

Do you think it is advantageous that Aston is a relatively small university?

Yes, we love the ‘community feel’ that we have on campus. You cant go anywhere without bumping into somebody you know!

Do you have banks, shops and medical provision on campus?

Yes. On campus we have a bank, a supermarket and bookshop, as well as local shops around the University. The University’s Health Centre is located on the lower ground floor of Boots the Chemist, less than ten minutes walk from campus. The Health Centre is open seven days a week and for longer hours than the university. There is also a satellite health centre on campus in the Main Building which is open in the day. We also have a Dental Surgery and Optometry school for student eye tests on campus.

If a student wants to commute are there subsidised rail fares?

Yes students receive a discounted rail fare. Please enquire at the train ticket offices for more information.

Are there advantages to being non-residential?

More students are choosing to not live on campus and live at home. There are both advantages and disadvantages to this when compared to students living on campus students. Although they will benefit financially they may lose out socially.

Do you feel safe on the campus? Do you think Birmingham is a relatively safe city?

The campus is small and contained so there is rarely reason for outsiders to come in. The campus has 24hour CCTV and trained professional Aston University security staff patrol the campus regularly. Birmingham itself is a relatively safe city (and the lowest crime of all the UK’s major cities according to the British Crime Survey), but as with any city or large town, students need to use their common sense, ie - avoid walking alone at night, etc.

What percentage of students commute?

It varies from course to course and year to year but is around  25% of our student body. This is a similar percentage to most other UK Universities.

How many weeks are students on campus for?

Academic Year is for 39 weeks – September to June. Of these 39 weeks, there are also two 3-4 week vacations (“Christmas” and “Easter” time in December and April).

Is there any parking for students?

No, not on campus but some spaces in commercial car parks close to campus (£5 per day on average).

How easy is it to get around on public transport?

Most things are within walking distance of the university, including three train stations so you can access the UK. If you have the need to travel further, there are many buses that can take you to any part of Birmingham.

 

Pastoral needs

Does the university contact parents/guardians at all?

The university has to respect student confidentiality so we are unable to contact parents without student’s permission. It is important to give your son or daughter time and space to settle in to university life.

What happens in the first week?

During the first week, students are involved in ‘Welcome week’ which is Aston’s name for Fresher’s week. This is a week of activities solely for first year students, which aims to encourage them to make friends and settle in to university. During this week, only first years are on campus. Some older students however are employed under the “Auntie” scheme. Aston Aunties are second, third or fourth year students who volunteer to help during fresher’s week and act as a point of contact for new students.

What pastoral support is available?

There are a number of places that students can go for advice and support. The advice and representation centre (ARC) is like a citizen’s advice bureau for students. They have extensive knowledge on a variety of different issues from finance to academic. There is designated student support team to help with any course related queries and students can drop in at any time to speak to a personal adviser. We have a free and confidential counselling service for students who feel they need to discuss any issues or concerns. The University also runs the ASAP – Aston Student Advice Point.

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Course

What percentage of the assessments are coursework/exams?

This will vary from course to course and may depend on which modules a student chooses to take.

How easy is it to contact the tutors? (asked to a final year student)

Yeah, it’s really easy. All tutors have office hours where you can book an appointment to see them. They give you their email address so you can contact them that way if you prefer. A lot of lectures are followed by seminars to check that we’ve understood so a lot of the time, things that you might need clarifying are covered there.

Do you have an attendance policy to monitor lecture attendance?

Many lecturers have individual systems of monitoring attendance.

How easy is it to transfer from one course to another?

This depends upon the course that you are on. In the Business School, for example, almost all of the degrees have a common first year so it is fairly easy for business students to change their course during the first year.

Can you change courses before you start?

If there is a place on the course you would like to move to, and if you meet the entry requirements, this can usually be arranged. You should contact the relevant course administrator in the first instance

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Placement

Is the placement year compulsory?

The placement year is compulsory at Aston Business School for home and EU students and it is optional for other schools. However, more than 70% of Aston students take a placement year.

The placement year seems very competitive: Do some people lose out and end up with the rubbish placements?

There are no ‘rubbish placements.’ All placements are graduate level positions which hold real responsibility.

Are there tuition fees for the placement year?

Tuition fees are half the normal tuition fee. This may vary in other institutions.

Do students often receive job offers from their placement company?

It is quite common for students be offered a job after they graduate. The offer is usually dependent on the student getting a good degree classification.

When you are applying for placements, do you receive help with your CV/ interview techniques?

Yes, there is a dedicated placements team who can help you to prepare for your placement applications. Some schools are able to offer a CV checking service, practice interviews and daily opening hours.

Where can you do your placement year? Can you choose yourself?

Yes. If you choose a placement that is not on our list then we have to check that the job you will be doing has the appropriate amount of responsibility, is relevant to your programme of study and is suitable as a placement. We have extensive links with the business community in the UK and overseas.

What is the average salary for a placement?

The average salary is around £15,000, although this varies depending on the location and the type of placement. We strive to ensure that students are fairly paid, however, certain placements, such as NHS and prison environments are often unpaid.

How often do students fail to get a placement?

It is uncommon for a student not to get a placement. There is no reason for this to happen if students follow the advice given to them by the Placements Office and actively engage in the process to secure a placement.

Do you have to apply for a lot of placements? Do you have many interviews?

This very much depends on the individual student and the type of placement. Some placements are highly sought after and students may need to compete with other universities. Students usually need to make several applications as practice really does make perfect.

When should you start looking for your placement?

Students should start looking for their placement at the beginning of the second year as this is when the placements start to be advertised. They continue to be advertised throughout the academic year.

Do students have contact with the university whilst on placement?

Yes, they will be allocated a placement tutor who will be in contact with them throughout their placement and will visit them at least once, (though usually twice) during the year. Most placement offices keep in contact with the students through our virtual learning environment, blackboard, which includes discussion boards and supportive material to assist students when they are away and to help then make the most of their placement.

Is the placement year like a real job?

Yes, student’s will have a real valued role within a company and will be given real responsibility.

What is the percentage for students who go on overseas placements?

Around 20% of placement students go abroad for all or part of their placement year.

Can you do a study placement on your placement year?

Yes. Accross the University, we have number of partner institutions in Europe and worldwide. The selection of study placements will vary depending on the subject(s) studied.

How do students find accommodation on their placement year?

Accommodation is sometimes passed on from the student who is finishing their placement. Some organisations do provide some support to students eg. supplying details of local landlords etc, but ultimately, responsibility is with the student themselves.

Can students still take out a loan if they go abroad?

Yes.

If a student is having problems on a placement, can they swap jobs?

Problems do occur on a placement from time to time. Placement officers are very experienced in supporting both the students and the organisations during these times and all parties work together to find the most appropriate solution.

If you go abroad do you have to pay for your travel expenses? (flights etc.)     

Yes, students are responsible for travel costs. Some organisations contribute towards these costs.       

Are placement opportunities offered exclusively to Aston students?

In some cases, yes. Aston students are very highly regarded.

Do you go on placement alone or in a group?

Students go on placement alone. However, some organisations have a large intake of placement students so there may be other students on placement at the same location.

Is the student responsible for living costs on placement?

Yes.

When does a student know when the placement starts?

This depends on each placement, but students are usually informed at the time they receive the offer/ contract of employment. Placements may start as early as mid June, after 2nd year exams have been completed.

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