Frequently Asked Questions

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Access to HE

Our Access courses have an excellent track record. Having achieved an Access to Higher Education Diploma, most students go on to the higher level courses, either at The College or at universities all around the country. The Access to HE course will give you the opportunity to continue learning in your chosen subject. See the Progression information / case studies to see where previous Access to HE students have continued their studies.

When you have decided which Access course you wish to undertake, the next step is to complete the application form (online, or a paper version is available). Once we receive your application, we will then invite you to attend an informal interview, which may involve an assessment and a group exercise. Following this interview we will confirm your place on the course, and inform you of start dates and other relevant information.

The College offers lots of practical advice and guidance. If you are unsure about returning to education you could enrol on the Pre-Access course - the aim of which is to boost your study skills and confidence. The Adult Guidance Team can answer any questions you may have about choosing either a Pre-Access or Access course.

Mature students are most welcome to seek guidance from the Adult Guidance Unit. The service is not just for those considering higher education Tel: 01202 205612/205212.

Most of our Access to Higher Education Courses have ‘family friendly’ timetables and are normally spread over 4 days of the week to fit in with most student commitments.

Access courses are demanding. However, College staff have years of experience in delivering these programmes and will support you throughout your course. You will be assigned a personal tutor, who will provide practical help and encouragement with your studies. We always discuss the course thoroughly with you before enrolment to ensure that you are prepared – so you don’t need to worry.

Please see individual course information for full details. How you pay will be dependent upon which course you choose and the study options. Concessions may be available.

Access courses are best suited to adults and provide an excellent preparation for Higher Education, and that all important step towards your dreams of university.

Our Access to HE Diplomas are validated by CAVA (Cambridge Access Validating Agency) who design and validate Access to higher Education Diplomas. They are a membership organisation who are comitted to aiding social mobility by increasing opportunities for people from all backgrounds to study at university.

All Access to Higher Education courses are credit based. Subjects have a set number of credits and levels. You can accumulate credits for each subject unit and your tutor will advise you as to the total number of credits needed for your successful completion (see individual courses for more detail). You will get plenty of feedback to help you during your course.

There will be an advisory interview, during which we will discuss whether our Access courses can help you reach the targets you have set yourself. You should be motivated to undertake further study and usually have literacy and numeracy skills to level 2 or equivalent.  If you do not have any previous literacy or numeracy qualifications we can help you to find out what level you are currently working at.

Access courses are designed for anyone without formal qualifications, who wishes to progress to a higher level course such as a Degree or Foundation Degree. You will work towards the successful acquisition of a specified number of ‘credits’ that will then be accounted for when you join a full degree.

Advanced Learner Loans

About the Loan

The Advanced Learner Loans application process will launch in May 2016 for courses beginning after 1st August 2016 (academic year 2016/2017).

No, it is a loan issued by the Student Loan Company on behalf of the Government.

No, the choice is yours. You can personally pay for your course in full, or opt to pay part of the fees yourself. Alternatively, you may want to talk to your employer as they may be prepared to pay for some or all of your course fees.

You can pay for your course in full or by instalments/Direct Debits. You do not have to have a loan to apply for a course.

No. Your loan application will cover the full length of your course.

Yes. Loan repayments will only be made to us once you’ve been on a course for two weeks. After two weeks, you become liable for loan repayments made on your behalf, and these will be based on the length of time you attended the course.

Some of our adult courses are eligible for funding using an Advanced Learner Loan. Please ask us if you would like to find out more.

You will still be required to pay back your loan if you are earning over £21,000.

No, but in certain circumstances we may be able to provide some additional help.

Applying for a Loan

No. Your loan application will cover the full length of your course.

You will be able to apply for an Advanced Learner Loan from May 2016 for courses starting in the academic year 2016/17. Applications should be made through the Student Loan Company. You will also able to apply using a paper based application, please ask us for help if you need a copy.

Yes, so long as it began after 1 August 2016 and you haven’t completed your course. Please talk to us if you find yourself in this position, as it will change the way you are paying for your course.

We understand that online applications should be processed in 4-5 working days if they contain all the required information. All other applications should normally be processed within 2-4 weeks.

This is dependent on what course you decide to do with us. Information on fees for your course will be explained to you when you have an interview or enrol.

You can access up to a maximum of four loans. If you start a course and find that you are unable to complete it, you will be able to apply for a loan for the same course if you start it again within a year. You will however be liable for any loan costs incurred. If you're applying for an Access to HE course, you will only be able to apply for one loan.

You’ll need to consider whether it’s the best thing for you in your circumstances. You may wish to seek independent financial advice, for example from the Money Advice Service at www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk.

Eligibility

This is a scheme that has been introduced by the Government. It’s a loan for learners who are aged 19 and over and covers the cost of course.

Advanced Learner Loans are available when you are studying for eligible Level 3, Level 4, Level 5 or Level 6 courses. We’ve provided some more information on qualifications, but include QCF Certificates, BTEC Extended Diplomas, Access to HE, A Levels and Advanced or Higher Apprenticeships.

Need more information? Don't hesitate to get in touch with us.

Please talk to us and we can discuss your finance options.

You can apply if you are a UK resident aged 19 or over at the start of an eligible course.

Yes. So long as you are personally eligible and studying for a qualifying level of Apprenticeship you can apply for a loan. You can take out a loan to cover the maximum amount to cover your course fees, or you can pay all or part of the fees yourself.

No, there’s no upper age limit.

Repaying the Loan

Repayments will be automatically deducted from your earnings through the tax system once you’ve left the course and your income is more than £21,000 a year.

Repayments will start from the April following your course and only when your income is more than £404 a week, £1,750 a month or £21,000 a year.

There’s no need to repay your loan until then. You can however make voluntary repayments at any time in order to pay off your loan more quickly.

In order to repay the loan you have to be earning over £21,000, if you earn under this you do not have to make repayments. When your income is more than £404 a week, £1,750 a month or £21,000 a year you will pay back your loan through your salary.

You will stop making repayments.

At the moment, we believe repayments will work as below.

Repayments will be made at 9 per cent of your income over the threshold above £21,000. For example, if your income is £25,000 a year then your loan repayments would be around £360 a year or £30 a month. The repayments are based purely on income, not on the amount borrowed or number of loans. So regardless of how much you owe the repayments will be the same. If your income falls below £21,000, repayments will stop and only re-start when your income increases to more than £21,000.

You have up to 30 years to repay the loan. If you’ve any loan balances remaining after 30 years they will be written off.

This depends on how much you earn over £21,000. The payment is taken from your salary through a scheme called Pay as You Earn (PAYE). The average payment is 9% of income above the £21,000 threshold.

Yes, you can do this by contacting the Student Loans Company direct who will accept any additional payments.

The outstanding loan balance will be written off.

Yes. You’ll be expected to repay any loan payments (including accrued interest) made on your behalf to the college or training organisation during your course, but repayment would only occur when your income reaches the threshold of £21,000.

Loan repayments aren’t taken from Pension Income. You will therefore only make repayments if you have other taxable income that is above £21,000pa.

Final details are still to be confirmed by the Government, however we believe that interest will be charged at the Retail Price Index (RPI) +3 per cent during the period of study, and up until the April after you leave the course. From this point interest is linked to earnings and will be:

  1. RPI for those earning less than £21,000 a year;
  2. On a sliding scale between RPI and RPI +3 per cent for earnings between £21,000 and £41,000 a year;
  3. RPI +3 per cent for individuals earning more than £41,000

If you leave your course before April 2016 when the first repayments start, the interest charged will be at RPI, irrespective of income, until repayments begin.

The Retail Price Index, RPI, is a measure of UK inflation. It measures changes to the cost of living in the UK. The UK government uses the rate of RPI for many purposes, including setting the interest rate charged on student loans.

Apprenticeships > Employers

Apprenticeships refer to on-the-job training leading to nationally recognised qualifications, developed by industry. The National Apprenticeship Service supports, funds and co-ordinates the delivery of Apprenticeships throughout England.

The length of an Apprenticeship varies depending on prior skills levels of the apprentice, the qualification being obtained and industry sector. Generally, Apprenticeships take between one and four years to complete.

An Apprenticeship includes the following components:

  • a knowledge based element
  • a competence based element
  • transferable or “key skills”
  • a module on employment rights and responsibilities.

They are one and the same thing - Modern Apprenticeships were re-branded in 2004 to ‘Apprenticeships’.

Even in difficult times like these, Apprenticeships are a vital way of improving the skills of staff and generating a committed and valuable workforce. When times are tough, competition for contracts is even tougher. That’s when a well-trained, extra pair of hands could make a real difference to your chances of success.

Subject to certain conditions you may be eligible for an employer grant.

Because it is good business. Skills shortages are still one of the biggest threats to UK business. Apprenticeships can help businesses across all industries by offering a route to harness fresh talent. If you have trained staff with the right skills for the job they can do a wider range of tasks and take on new responsibilities - this can help to reduce skill shortages, minimise staff turnover and workplace accidents, and increase productivity.

There are clear financial benefits to employers and their investment in Apprenticeships is repaid many times over. A recent study by the University of Warwick Institute of Employment Research found that the costs of Apprenticeship training are recouped relatively quickly, and that where the investment is nurtured, the returns are significant. Another study by Sheffield University measured the long term financial benefit to investing in Apprenticeships.

Some of the most popular Apprenticeships at present are: Engineering, Business Administration, Construction and Hospitality.

Like all employees, apprentices must still receive a wage.

Yes. Like all employees, apprentices are entitled to statutory Maternity Leave of 52 weeks with Statutory Maternity Pay for up to 39 weeks.

You must give your apprentice an induction into their role and provide on-the-job training. As with all employees, you are also responsible for the wages of your apprentice.

Most assessment is carried out in the workplace but there may be a requirement to take some tests.

This varies from programme to programme. Some of the training can be in the work place and other sessions could be in college or with a learning provider. Depending on the type of job being done, or the elements of training being undertaken, it could be one day a week or a block release.

A learning provider is usually a local college or specialist training organisation responsible for an apprentice's off-the-job training. When you take on an apprentice they will appoint a mentor who will work with you to make sure that the training is well planned. Once the apprentice begins the mentor will follow their progress and deal with any issues that may arise.

Apprenticeships > Learners and Parents

Apprenticeships are available in many sectors and industries from engineering to catering, hairdressing to accountancy.

They generally fall into one of three categories:

  • Intermediate Level Apprenticeships – NVQ level 2
  • Advanced Level Apprenticeships – NVQ level 3
  • Higher Apprenticeships – NVQ level 4.

An Apprenticeship is essentially a set of qualifications called a ‘framework’ developed by Sector Skills Councils. Most Apprenticeship frameworks follow a standard format that comprises:

  • a National Vocational Qualification (e.g. Level 2 for Intermediate Level Apprenticeships, Level 3 for Advanced Level Apprenticeships)
  • key Transferable Skills
  • a Technical Certificate.

The learning provider provides the knowledge and develops skills while the employer provides the practical experience to put those skills to the test. Training can be classroom based, in a workshop or in a workplace, depending on the subject and on the learning provider

Having a degree makes you ineligible for government funding for an Apprenticeship. If you want to do an Apprenticeship but have a degree, you will need to find another way to cover the training costs which could mean paying yourself or finding an employer that will pay your training costs

Apprenticeships are an excellent way of gaining qualifications and workplace experience. As an employee, you can earn as you learn and you gain practical skills from the workplace.

Getting qualified while on the job can also mean:

  • you work better and more effectively
  • it can set you up to move into new and better jobs
  • you get better pay
  • you get to experience new and different challenges
  • your existing skills and knowledge are recognised and can help you gain a qualification faster
  • you learn at your own pace and get support when you need it
  • better job security
  • you gain skills and knowledge which can be used across a range of jobs and industries.

Yes. It’s up to you to choose an employer but learning providers (e.g. college or private training company) can help you decide.

Yes, all employed apprentices will get a wage. The National Minimum Wage (NMW) is currently £3.30 per hour*. However, as skills develop, many employers tend to increase wages – in fact, research has found that apprentices earn an average of £170 net pay per week. The apprentice NMW applies to all 16 to 18 year olds and to those aged 19 and over in the first year of their Apprenticeship. If you reach age 19 and have completed the first year of your Apprenticeship your employer must pay you at least the full NMW rate for those aged 18 to 20.

If you have been made redundant you should contact your training provider who will be able to give you assistance and advice on what happens next.

The employer will give you an induction into the company and your role. They provide on-the-job training and pay your wages. Each apprentice has a manager at work who will be responsible for helping you throughout your training.

Different Apprenticeships have different entry requirements. However the most important requirements are that:

  • You must be living in England and not taking part in full-time education.
  • You must be aged 16 or over.
  • If you took your GCSEs more than five years ago and didn’t gain a top grade (A or A*), or you don’t have good GCSE grades in Maths and English you will need to take a literacy and numeracy test.

An Apprenticeship includes the following components:

  • A knowledge based element.
  • A competence based element.
  • Transferable or “key skills”.
  • A module on employment rights and responsibilities.

The length of an Apprenticeship varies depending on prior skills levels of the apprentice, the qualification being obtained and industry sector. Generally, Apprenticeships take between one and four years to complete.

Yes. If your employer agrees, you can become an apprentice where you work now.

Like most other employees, you will be given at least 20 days paid holiday per year as well as bank and public holidays.

The selection process is just like any other job application process. Individuals are put through a series of interviews, and in some cases, tests, to establish if they are the right fit for the role.

You can apply at any time of year. When you begin the work-based training depends upon the availability of a position with an employer.

Enrolment

Enrolment is where you come into register for your chosen course at College.  At enrolment the College will complete all necessary paperwork with you as well as checking your ID and qualifications.  You will also have the opportunity to speak to your Teaching team, Support Services and LRC staff.

In your offer letter there are details about your allocated day and time to come in and enrol. If for any reason you don't have your letter please call 01202 205680. For HE enquiries please call 01202 205180.

The new College term starts on Monday 5th September 2016.  At enrolment you will be given exact details of your first day at College and your Induction timetable.

Depending on your results you may still be able to access your chosen course or start on the level below, but don’t worry the College’s Advice and Guidance Team will be available on 01202 205312 from GCSE results day in August right through enrolment to advise you. Why not come along to Come to College Day on the 25th August 1pm - 4pm and 26th August 10am - 1pm. Speak to our A&G team and curriculum area staff. Also, find out which courses and apprenticeships are available for September start.

Contact the Advice and Guidance Team on 01202 205312 to discuss course availability and explore the options that may be available to you.  The team will also help you complete or change your application form. This is also another reason to come to Come to College Day - details here

No you can apply to College at anytime.  The quickest way to apply is online at www.thecollege.co.uk but you can also apply at Come to College Day. We will progress your application for your chosen course and may contact you to discuss your application further.

Please contact the Advice and Guidance Team on 01202 205312 who will be able to book an appointment slot for you so that you can begin to explore your options and apply for the right course for you. Alternatively come to Come to College Day

There could be some help available for your travel costs depending on your circumstances. For more information please contact the Student Finance Team on 01202 205660 or 01202 205362. You can also get more information from our website www.thecollege.co.uk/student-support/student-finance

There could be some help available from the College Bursary scheme. This is means tested and is dependent on your circumstances. The Bursary is also attendance based. For more information please contact the Student Finance Team on 01202 205660 or 01202 205362. You can also get more information from our website www.thecollege.co.uk/student-support/student-finance

School Leavers > Parents and Carers

Research shows that young people are influenced by many factors: their parents/carers, their teachers, their peers, their siblings, careers advisers, current trends and the media to name but a few. If you are a parent/carer you will want the best for your son or daughter, and therefore it is important to encourage them to keep an open mind during the decision making stage. Always encourage them to consider all their options before making their final decision.

Both the Lansdowne site at Bournemouth and North Road site at Poole are well served by local bus routes. Bournemouth, Parkstone and Poole railway stations are in close proximity to The College’s main sites.

The Bournemouth & Poole College has excellent support services and is highly inclusive.

Visit our Student Support pages for more information.

The main source of help will be from personal tutors and lecturers. However, many learners benefit from additional help and support, which is available through the Study Advice Centres. We also have fully equipped Learning Resources Centres at our Lansdowne, Constitution Hill and North Road centres.

There are no tuition fees for learners aged 16 – 18 on full time courses.

What about books and materials? Will there be a charge for exam entries? What about travel? Are grants available?

These questions are asked frequently and their answers are not always straightforward.

To receive more information please telephone (01202) 205300 or call into Student Services. You can call The College helpline on (01202) 205205

Some learners are eligible for financial assistance.

Yes, very carefully. At The College we have strict rules and codes of conduct. We expect learners to be dedicated and to work hard and have a mutually respectful approach to their tutors and fellow students. Good manners are highly valued. As with everything in life, the more you invest the greater the final reward. Students are encouraged to form a bond with their personal tutor, who is responsible for monitoring their progress, attendance and for dealing with any issues, worries or concerns.

In most cases classes will be much smaller than at school. Generally classes have an average of 18 students - large enough to generate a lively exchange of views yet small enough to ensure personal attention. Every student belongs to a small tutorial group led by a personal tutor.

“The principal, governors and senior leadership team provide good direction for the college. They have devised an ambitious strategic plan and are generally achieving improvement targets”
Ofsted 2011

Classes for full time learners will not normally be timetabled to begin before 9am or finish after 5.30pm but this may vary according to the course. Each learner has an individual timetable and it’s a good idea to make sure you have a copy of this so that you know when they will be in college.

On average, a learner will have between 15 - 16 hours a week of contact time (teaching hours) spread through the week. Every learner will also have college work to complete at home. This will include, for example, course work, assignments, research and individual study.

We keep you informed through parents’ evenings and/or written reports. Student’s progress is very carefully monitored and regular tutorials will ensure learning goals are being met. Every full-time learner works towards their Individual Learning Plan. If you are concerned at any stage we encourage you to contact the relevant Head of Curriculum.

Your views and comments will always be welcome.

There are many advantages to college life. It very much depends on the individual concerned. The benefits of moving on from school to a more adult learning environment will vary from one individual to another. Many young people by the end of year 11 find they are ready for a college environment, which offers greater experience of the ‘real world’ and acts as a great preparation for employment or university.

We think our size is our strength as it allows us to offer a very wide range of courses. This, together with staff whose responsibilities include tutorial/pastoral support, ensures that all students will belong to a small part of a large organisation. We also ensure individual needs are not overlooked by keeping class sizes relatively small and giving every learner a personal tutor. Our most recent Ofsted report highlighted that.

The most important thing is that a young person is on the course and in the environment that is most suited to their career ambitions and personality.

Leaving school is a big step, but we believe that the right course is the most important factor. College life is different from school in many ways, especially as The College gives students extra independence providing an excellent stepping-stone to higher education or to employment.