How to manage your money as a postgraduate student

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by Nicole, MRes Social Science

Money can be scary. Some days, I look at my bank account and wonder where it all went. But it doesn’t need to be a scary prospect. There are things you can do and people you can speak with to make sure that you have the money to support you alongside your postgraduate study and help you to manage it well. So, don’t panic, I am here to point you in the right direction!

Fear can sometimes lead to avoidance, which means you could be missing out on help, funding or great tips and tricks to make your money go further.

Firstly, and quite possibly most importantly, there’s student finance options. Student Finance England (SFE) is probably where you went to get your undergraduate student loans, and it’s where you are going to need to go again for postgraduate. If you’ve used SFE before, your login is the same, but if not, you will need to create an account. Once you’re in, you just need to complete a few forms and then you are done! SFE will check all of your info, and then let you know how much money you are entitled to. But there is one crucial difference from the undergraduate loans: your tuition loan is paid to YOU, not to UWE, so remember to bear that in mind when you are budgeting!

Another option for funding is getting some paid work alongside your studies. There are plenty of options here: everything from retail to working for UWE (like yours truly). The great thing about postgraduate study is that the courses are more flexible – so much of a postgraduate course is self-directed study. This makes it easier to fit a job around your studies. Not only can you earn money for this work, but you can also gain valuable skills, especially if you can find a part-time role in your field of study! Two birds, one stone!

Last but not least there is also a plethora of options provided by UWE, such as the summer fund, which can provide some additional funding over the summer break and the emergency fund, which can provided when something unexpected happens (for example, I used it when I knocked my laptop off of my desk and smashed it!).

Budgeting is your friend!

So, you’ve got your money sourced, now what do you do with it? Budgeting is your friend! It doesn’t have to be fancy or formal or even all that detailed, but it really is useful to have one. Personally, I have mine on an Excel spreadsheet – I find it easier to edit and it does the maths for me, which is good because my maths skills are severely lacking – but you can do it however works best for you. Play around and experiment to see what suits your style best.

One of the biggest expenses in this world is food. It’s necessary, so it can seem like there’s no way to reduce that bill. But fear not! There are some really simple ways to cut down on that expense! First and foremost, branded foods are not always the best out there, so give the supermarket own brand options a shot and you might be surprised at both the taste and the savings. Secondly, keep an eye out for the reduced to clear sections in the major supermarkets. They tend to reduce the foods that are going to be ‘out-of-date’ soon at about 8pm every day, and most of these are absolutely fine to eat a few days after that date AND most of them can be frozen and eaten at a much later date. I’ve managed to grab pizzas, cakes, bread, vegetables, cheese and so much more for pennies using this method. Don’t be afraid to dive on in and grab what you need!

Alright! I think that’s all of my tips for managing your money as a postgraduate student. My last words of advice would be this: don’t be scared about money and funding. Fear can sometimes lead to avoidance, which means you could be missing out on help,  funding, or great tips and tricks to make your money go further. So, take a deep breath, grab some chocolate (or other treat) and dive in! Good luck!

Find out more about financial support.

How I managed the commitment of postgraduate study

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by Dev, MSc Marketing

After successfully completing my undergraduate degree I was keen to begin a career in publishing. But after a summer of job hunting I realised that although my degree was beneficial, I needed more for my chosen career. I also had to take into consideration as a Tier 4 international student the job requirements for me are different to local students.

I chatted my options through with my parents and decided, quite last minute, to apply for a postgraduate degree in marketing at UWE Bristol. Because I applied late in the summer I didn’t have a chance to fully explore what postgraduate student life at UWE might be like. Even though I had lived in the area for a while and had a lovely group of friends, I was still worried about how I might fit in.

I also knew that doing a postgraduate degree was going to be a bigger commitment and it would be more intense than undergraduate. Looking back, this has been true, but my lecturers have been really supportive, which has made the transition from UG to PG much easier. For example, when I started the course we had a two day session with our tutors to understand how the course would work and who to contact. We also did a short exercise which gave us a great grounding in the course.

That said, we all need a bit more support from time to time and at the start of year I had a few issues, so I contacted the wellbeing team at UWE. The people there were so understanding and offered me resources and advice about my mental health, as well as how I could manage it whilst doing my degree. This was a refreshing change from the inconsistent support I received from my previous institution and I felt like I could really rely on UWE to help me when I needed it!

I’ve also found Bristol itself to be really welcoming. I recently attended Bristol Pride and it was a glorious event! As a queer student born and raised in a conservative environment and still trying to find their place in the world, it was an incredible thing to experience. Bristol’s queer scene has personally been one of the best ones I’ve been a part of. I know from experience that there aren’t many places as welcoming and open-minded as Bristol.

As I move closer to graduating, I’m now starting to think about my career prospects and job opportunities again and I definitely feel like I am better prepared now. I’ve also started making enquiries with the international student careers team who I’m planning on meeting with soon to discuss the next steps and work through some of the issues I’ve had before.

Find out more about the support available at UWE

Preparing for my study year in Sweden

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by Hannah, BA(Hons) International Business

I love the vibrant Swedish culture and whenever I visit I feel calm and at peace.

When applying for BA(Hons) International Business I was attracted to the study year abroad in third year. The year abroad is compulsory and UWE have multiple partner institutions over the globe spanning the US, Mexico and Taiwan. I have now been accepted at the University of Sweden to study International Marketing starting in August.

In July 2018 I took two weeks to visit Stockholm, staying with a family in Solna, just outside of Stockholm. I had a great time traveling by subway and walking to parks and villages. I enjoyed walking around the campus, noting its professional design and calm atmosphere. The fact that the Stockholm Business School welcomes 140 exchange students every semester means that there is a good buddy programme and small added extras like a welcome dinner to get us settled in. I really love that the campus reflects Stockholm with its elegant historical buildings and parks but then also has a modern, cosmopolitan spirit. I love the vibrant Swedish culture and whenever I visit I feel calm and at peace, appreciating the beautiful surroundings and sun sets etc. I would love to take part in the Swedish language lessons and really immerse myself into the culture and new opportunities.

Studying abroad will enable me to complete my degree which I am currently on track to secure a first class honours. In the future though I plan to work overseas or travel in my career as I love working with interesting people who are different from me. I’m hoping that by studying abroad I will gain a global awareness as I believe that having the ability to network globally is a great skill to have. I will also gain a new-found independence, knowing that this time I can travel and explore whilst partaking in a normal academic routine- building my self-confidence and self-awareness.

I’m also finding that my interpersonal skills are being developed when planning each detail of my year abroad in terms of travel, accommodation and university policies etc. Spending time researching the country’s currency and culture has helped me prepare for the year out, understanding that change will occur quickly and I need to be prepared to adapt quickly to the cultural and personal change which should put me in good stead for the workplace when project managing large tasks, being able to plan logically and think critically.

Most importantly though I feel like my year abroad will remind me that anything is possible!

Find out more about global study opportunities

What a degree can do for you

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by Sophia, MSc Marketing  

More than a degree

Going to university is a big decision and will shape the next three to four years of your life, so it is important to make sure that it is something you want to do. Continuing your education can be very rewarding not only in your professional development but also in your personal one. Many people who have gone to university will tell you that it was the best few years they have experienced and would recommend it to anyone.

Getting a degree is so much more than a piece of paper.

The most common reason why that time is so cherished is because, as well as attaining a degree, it was also the first step into adulthood for them. Moving away from home and living with strangers can sound scary but so many people have matured and have made lifelong friendships that way. This really is a time where you get to learn to become independent and build a future for yourself.

Getting a degree is so much more than a piece of paper, it’s having multiple opportunities to meet new interesting people, to become a part of a society, to learn how to cook, how to manage money and so much more. Whilst your working towards your degree, your university can also offer you to do some of that work abroad on an Erasmus programme, which is an amazing opportunity to learn a new language and experience a different culture. There is so much that you can benefit from getting a degree, you just need to take advantage of all the opportunities.

How can a degree help your employment prospects?

After three years of hard work, graduating and receiving that degree can be one of the most rewarding feelings. You feel accomplished and ready to set into the big world. Naturally, the next step is employment, and this is where you’ll realise that staying up late finishing all those assignments and the long hours of revising for exams haven’t gone to waste.

You’ll notice that one of the requirements of many employees is having a degree in a field of study related to the job. By having that you’re already at an advantage. Some would like to see some experience also, and many of you might think that it seems unfair to have experience and a young age if you’ve been in education the entire time, however choosing a sandwich course that entails being on placement for a year can give you that advantage as well as a lot of confidence and valuable experience.

Getting a well-paying job after attaining a degree is a great achievement, however it’s the journey that took you there that you’ll always remember and cherish.

Another way to start off a career is by doing a graduate scheme or programme, which is incredibly common amongst companies. These schemes are specifically designed for students that have graduated from university, they are a great way to start a career as it offers training, high earning potential and even global opportunities. In general, it is known that about 90% of graduates either get employed or go into further education, so there is a high likelihood of job security. Getting a well-paying job after attaining a degree is a great achievement, however it’s the journey that took you there that you’ll always remember and cherish. It’s a life experience that will shape the future you.

Find out more about getting career ready

My UWE Bristol room tour

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by Dan, BA(Hons) Business (Team Entrepreneurship)

During my first year at university I lived in Quantock Court in the Student Village on Frenchay Campus. Before I moved to UWE however I remember having quite a few questions about what my accommodation would look like so hopefully my blog and vlog will help give you the answers you need if you’re deciding or have already got accommodation confirmed!

Your room

In your room you have a bed, closet space, desk and en-suite (some accommodation options have shared bathrooms). The desk is a good enough size to fit all the essentials and if you are like me you can also fit your printer and two monitor screens as well as the normal space for writing. You also have shelves above your desk for books or personal belongings. Overall it’s a nice little room which is big enough for one person.

Communal space

If you’re living in the Student Village you will be living with 6 other people and sharing the communal area. This area includes a kitchen and living/ socialising area. The kitchen has an oven, kettle, toaster and sink. Each person has a cupboard for their own thing as well as there being enough room for pots and pans. Some accommodation options have sofas in the social area and others have individual chairs, but either way it’s a nice space to socialise in and there’s plenty of room for everyone.

I hope this gives you a good idea of what to expect if you’ve chosen the Student Village as your accommodation or if you are still making your minds up.

Find out more information on accommodation options.

My clearing experience

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by Emily, BA(Hons) History

Clearing sounds very scary, doesn’t it? Of all the thoughts running around in the build up to results day, the thought of clearing may be overwhelming. The thought I might not get to go to the university I had chosen scared me, but it shouldn’t especially if you get prepared beforehand.

In the run up to exams, I began to have a change of mind towards which subject I would be studying at university. I always thought it would be History, but after a set of good coursework results in Media Studies I began to think about studying that instead. I proceeded to ask my teacher for support and she pointed me in the right direction and gave me some courses to look at. By results day I was practically certain that Media was in fact, the subject for me.

What to do on results day

Soon enough results day came but upon looking at my results, I panicked and was filled with an overwhelming sense of uncertainty. My mum suggested I speak to my tutor, who then took me in to her office to discuss my options and to talk about what I wanted to do. Teachers and other staff members are a really good resource when it comes to clearing, they’ve been through this a billion times before and can guide you to all the right places. I must have spent at least an hour in there before reaching a decision.

Why UWE?

UWE was always an option as it was where my mum had studied and she always raved about it. UWE had a good reputation and after looking at their course for History online I found the modules really interesting. Their online clearing process was easy to navigate and very helpful, in comparison to the other university I was looking at which was unhelpful and kept redirecting me to different phone lines. This made my decision so much easier, and I began to think that although this was different to the experience I was expecting, the course was sounding even better than the one I originally wanted to study. It then began to set in that I was going to UWE and I felt proud, to do so. Clearing had set my mind at ease.

My top tips for clearing

  1. Firstly you should fully research universities and courses beforehand, this is in case you don’t get the results you want as it’s good to know what options are out there and have a few back-ups.
  2. I would check UCAS track prior to going to collect results, this should prepare you for the outcome and can help you understand whether you need any assistance.
  3. You should check your school or college opening times and I would recommend going sooner rather than later. This way it will be easier to make use of the help at hand and if you are unsure of anything it’s definitely worth asking a teacher or another member of staff.
  4. It might also be worth bringing a parent, friend or someone else along with you for support.
  5. Finally I would also recommend getting lots of sleep before, and trying not to worry, worrying will not change the outcome!

I would stress that you shouldn’t be disappointed if you don’t get your first choice. Clearing can be a really helpful tool that can offer a number of possibilities. Not getting your first choice might initially seem disappointing, but you shouldn’t let it write off your future, there are still numerous possibilities that can shape your life for the better.

Find out more about clearing

Top tips for completing your UCAS application

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by Mercedes, BA(Hons) Drama and Creative Writing

Applications: combatting the complications

So, we’re assuming you’ve clicked on this blog post because you need a little bit more guidance on how to apply for university, right? Well, that’s very wise as the whole application process can be pretty overwhelming, especially when you’re amongst lots of students across the world trying to make the same good impression. To start you off, here are 7 tips to ease the blow of UCAS applications. Keep these in the back of your mind so you can write a personal statement worth reading!

1. Research, research research!

A crazy amount of applications are submitted each day, and their sixth sense can always pick up when someone has made the effort to research the course they’re wanting to study for the next few years. So, go to the websites of your university choices and read the course information to know what they’re looking for— it’ll help you in the long run for specifics!

2. Pick the necessary

Mentioning your cat and how he has two different coloured eyes might be great for interview conversation, but won’t really be much of an incentive for your course leaders to accept you for September, especially when you’re applying for a Math’s degree. Choosing relevant and necessary information makes an easier read, and helps you to present a better image of yourself.

3. Promote yourself

Think about it — 1000s of applications a day, hours dragging on, and the pile’s only getting higher. How do you show yourself off even though they haven’t met you yet? Add some personality and tell them why they should choose you! If you’ve run a club at school or sixth form, tell them. If you won an award in your chosen subject, tell them. If you took a gap year and went travelling with charities or did volunteer work, tell them. If you’ve done extra-curricular activities to get more experience in your chosen subject, tell them. This is your chance to get their attention!

4. Check ur spilling miscakes and grammer?

This one is the most tedious but it really goes without saying. You’ll definitely need a second and even third pair of eyes to go through your application and check for mistakes, but your spelling, punctuation and grammar are actually very key. No ‘LOL’s, ‘TBH’s or anything like that this time around, keep it professional. If you need help with these things, never be afraid to ask your peers and teachers — it’s what they’re here for!

5. Get to the point

You know when you ask someone a fairly simple question and they take ages to answer it? Yeah. It can be very easy to write the first things that come to your head and before you know it, you’ve reached your word limit. Try your best to not be that guy. Your question is “Why should we choose you for this course?” — Enjoy yourself whilst you answer it!

6. Make sure your referee has your back!

The last thing you need after you’ve poured your heart out about your talents and grades is a referee that begs to differ. Choosing the right person to write your reference is also very key to submitting a successful application. They need to have enough belief in your future in order to write the truth that’ll help convince admission that you’re worth the place!

7. Keep your eye on the clock and deadlines

We’d hate for you to put all that hard work and effort in for your application to not be looked at in time. The same way you set time for homework, coursework and Love Island, take time out of your day to focus on your application.

It can feel like the work will never end, and can sometimes even be a struggle to complete but if you utilise the help around you, you’ll get it done in no time. Now, go and show them why you deserve to study in September!

Find out how to apply to UWE Bristol

How a degree can enhance your career prospects

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by Prisilla, MEng(Hons) Aerospace Engineering and Pilot Studies

The countdown begins. For some of you that might be when you start A-Levels or when you hear the ominous word ‘university’ or when you press submit on your UCAS application. Whatever it may be, going to university is a tough but rewarding decision to make. As someone who is on her fourth year of study (placement year) and has one final of year of Masters left to do, I have seen quite a bit of university life and the degree – the good and the bad times. So even though I am getting eager to leave university, I thought it might be good to tell you about what a degree can do for you through this blog.

A glimpse into your future career

To begin with, your chosen degree is your first glimpse into your future career. Through the lectures, the practicals and workshops, you will begin to know whether you want to continue in the chosen field/industry or if there is something else you enjoy. Most of the lecturers on campus are ex-industry employees, which means they have experienced the industry. So, you can quiz your lecturers about the good and the bad of the industry and maybe even open a chance to network with your future employer (if they have come from a company you are interested in). As you attend lectures and grow on your theoretical knowledge, your degree is helping you to understand the basics and core information. The practicals and workshops really get you stuck-in to the course, showing how theory works in reality. Depending on the module, the course and the coursework, the hands-on experience can vary with projects.

However, a degree is not just all work and no play. Most of the degrees have a dedicated society affiliated to it, which means you can take part in social activities and projects. It does not matter if you are a 1st year or in your final year; all societies love to have the extra help with their projects which means you get to have fun while learning a new skill. As a Student Ambassador, you can represent UWE at various events, gain extra interpersonal skills and showcase your knowledge – the great thing is you are paid to do it!

Get those career enhancing opportunities

Because you study at UWE, your entrance to the annual Employers’ fair is guaranteed. This fair, which takes place around October, brings you in direct contact with about 180 employers from all different industries. They bring with them opportunities of placements, graduate schemes and free goody-bags. If you are successful in applying and securing a placement, I would consider that as a great achievement. Going out on placement is a rewarding experience as not only do you put into practice what you have learnt in your lectures, but you get to see how a company interacts with political, social and economic changes. But it is fine if you don’t get a placement, as you can still get a job with what you’ve learnt in your degree, as 96% of UWE Bristol graduates are in work or further study six months after graduating.

If you are willing to take hold of everything UWE has to offer, you will not notice the time fly by!

The university listens to its students through student rep forums and makes sure their facilities are up to standard. Over the past years, I have seen the Frenchay campus grow in size due to new buildings for the faculties, which means more spaces to work in, more computers and more classrooms. With the added benefit of being able to download subject specific software and Microsoft Windows onto your personal computers, there really is no worry about not getting your work done on time.

Making connections with industry

Finally, in my personal opinion, it is through your degree that you make some great connections which last a lifetime. You not only meet students from all around the world and from all walks of life but you meet with industry professionals who will give you an insight into the working world and help you make the starting step into the field.

Want to see what a day at my placement looks like? Watch my Instagram takeover below!

Find out how to get those career enhancing opportunities at UWE Bristol.

Joining in and making friends

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by Ethan, LLB(Hons) Law  

I work as a student ambassador at UWE Bristol, and the most frequently asked question from both students and their parents is “did you make friends easily here”, and of course the answer is yes. Its hard not to with everything UWE provides and supports with,  from social areas, to funding, to the 140 plus societies. Having a social life is not something you need to worry about when you’re at UWE Bristol.

Is sport a good way to make friends?

For the athletic type, sports is by far the best way for making bonds with others at university and  so I would advise you to sign up for as many sessions as possible. Even if you don’t know whether you will be any good.

The variety at UWE allows for anyone who might want to be part of a sports team to try something new. Sports vary from motor sport, to paintball to gymnastics, alongside the big sports like American Football.

There are loads of people that haven’t done certain sports before so you won’t be alone and there are many free activities and taster sessions to try during your first few weeks.

What other societies can I get involved in?

Don’t worry if you’re not into sports as there are loads of other societies to choose from which have an equally great social atmosphere with a little less sweat. Nearly all societies are keen for new members and with weekly meet ups they are a great way for forming social groups.

Societies like the cocktail making society are known for generating a large number of student members, for obvious reasons, but create fantastic opportunities to make friends with others you wouldn’t come into contact otherwise with your university life.

In short, joining a society  is a great way to make friends. Don’t feel like you need to follow a crowd though, by all means give everything a try but don’t hide away from what you want. The beauty of UWE being so big is that you will find likeminded people who are passionate about the very same thing you are, so just be yourself. Whether you prefer to talk about sport, politics, anime or all of the above you have no excuse to not find others who are the same.

However, don’t feel like you must search for a social life solely through the societies here at UWE. Events at the SU and most notably during freshers week are a great way to mingle, grab a drink and get to know people.

How can social media help me connect with others?

Once you have made those initial connections and the joys of fresher’s have faded, the next thing will be maintaining them as you get on with other aspects of university life and study. One good practice comes through the form of group chats. Just making and joining chats allowing you to access friend circles is great to have. Facebook groups are also great in regard to finding people and events. When moving in there will always be chats that allow you to find your flat mates as well as the group pages and hidden society pages (which you will be invited to) will allow you to attend all kinds of events. Social media is another great way for maintaining a social group at UWE and by following the main handles of the university you can keep up to date with upcoming events.

How joining in helped me make friends

Personally, I took up a sport (American Football) which I had never played before with a group I never met before and by the end of 8 months I feel like I not only have friends but a brotherhood of which I belong to.

Joining a society is a great way to make friends. The opportunities are everywhere and all you have to do is take them and be yourself.

I came to this university knowing only one other student on a different course and its nothing to be intimidated about. The frame work of both subjects and Fresher’s enables you to have more people around you than you can remember in no time and you really don’t have to go actively searching for people either. The opportunities are everywhere and all you have to do is take them and be yourself.

Find out more about the social opportunities on offer at UWE Bristol

How to manage your money at university

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by Eden, BSc(Hons) Architecture  

Top tips to make your loan last

As a student, one of the most daunting aspects of moving to university is money. For most people, the maintenance loan given by the government leaves little room for extra expenditures such as going out for food or buying new clothes. One way to improve this is to budget and spend wisely. I began studying at UWE in September 2018 and quickly realised that I needed to budget in order to make my maintenance loan last for the entire year! This blog will give a few top tips which will hopefully have a huge effect on the amount of money that you will spend, and save, throughout your studies whilst also enjoying the student life!

1. Choose accommodation with shared bathrooms

At UWE, there are many different accommodation options depending on how much you wish to spend and whether or not you would prefer an ensuite or a shared bathroom. For my first year at University, I lived in UWE’s Wallscourt park on Frenchay Campus in a flat with shared bathrooms. In my flat, I shared 3 bathrooms with 8 people. Although many people do not want to share a bathroom, it really isn’t as bad as you might think.  Because there were 3 different bathrooms to use, even if your usual bathroom is being used, you can just use a different one! By staying in Wallscourt Park with shared bathrooms, I saved approximately £1000 when compared to my friends who stayed in rooms with an ensuite bathroom. This is a serious amount of money when you are trying to budget!

2. Shop wisely

When starting out at university, I had never really gone for a weekly food shop before. With many different shops around Frenchay Campus such as the University shops, Asda, Lidl, and Sainsbury’s, it took me a while to figure out how to save money on food and which shops to use. After shopping at each of the shops mentioned, I would 100% recommend Lidl. Lidl is the closest non university-owned shop to Frenchay campus and is by far the cheapest. On a weekly food shop, I would save around £10-15 when shopping at Lidl when compared to Asda or Sainsbury’s.

3. Choose a good student bank account

Another useful tip is to choose a student bank account which gives you a large interest free overdraft. When I began studying at University, I set up an account with Santander which gave me a 4-year free railcard, saving 1/3 on all rail travel, and an overdraft of up to £1500 interest free. This was incredibly useful when I was required to pay my rent before my termly loan instalments had entered my bank account. The overdraft is essentially the bank giving you money for free whilst you are studying. Though I chose Santander, I would recommend looking at some comparison websites before as different banks offer different overdraft limits and extras each year.

4. Take the bus or coach

Although this tip may seem obvious, I know so many people who travel home using the train or get an Uber/Taxi back home after a night in the city centre. The cheapest way to get to/from Bristol city centre is using the metrobus services. These run 24/7 and a night ticket only costs £2 which lasts from 7:00pm until 4:30am. That’s only £1 each way! The metrobus services are regular and stop at Frenchay Campus, it takes around 20 minutes each way from the campus to the city centre. By using these buses, you will save at least £10 when compared to if you take an Uber or a Taxi home. When travelling further, I would recommend looking into coach travel. This option does take longer, however, you will save money. I bought a coach card for £12 which allows me to save 1/3 off national express coaches for a year. As I travel from Bristol to Plymouth once a fortnight, this definitely saved me money. A return coach trip was around £20+ cheaper than if I took the train!

5. Get a job

Another obvious way to save money is to work. The university and shopping areas always have jobs available! There are direct bus services from Frenchay campus to both Cabot Circus and Cribbs Causeway. The University hires students to work in the campus bars, shops and cafes. Also, UWE hires student ambassadors which involves casual work to help the university at events such as open days and UCAS fairs. The university jobs all offer hours which may work around your studies, whilst also paying respectable wages! Vacancies from UWE may be viewed online on the Students union ‘Jobshop’ page.

Read more about your fees and funding options at UWE Bristol