All you need to know about student finance for university

This week, Phil Lynes from Student Finance Wales gives the lowdown on how you can get help from Welsh Government with support for living and tuition fees, meaning you can focus on studying, not making ends meet.

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If you’re thinking about your next steps and are considering going to university, it’s worth knowing that there is financial support available to cover your living costs.

All eligible Welsh students starting an undergraduate course can apply for support to cover their living costs – so rent, bills and spending money – while they study. The support on offer is a mixture of grants and loans that reach the equivalent to the National Living Wage.

This means you can focus on your studies and spend less time worrying about whether you have enough money to live on.

For students with relatively low household income, most of the financial support for living costs will be a grant which does not have to be paid back.

Who is eligible?

First time undergraduates (full and part-time) starting a course could be eligible. Students aged over 60 may be eligible for a fee loan and a grant for study/living costs, but won’t be eligible for a maintenance loan. All students from Wales can apply, no matter where they plan to study in the UK.

How much will I get?

The minimum grant you will get is £1,000, which you do not have to pay back. If you’re studying full-time as an undergraduate, through a mixture of grants and loans, you could be eligible for up to £11,250 a year towards your living costs if you live away from home and study in London, and £9,000 per year in the rest of the UK. Part-time undergraduates will receive similar support, on a pro-rata basis based on course intensity and household income.

Grants will be means-tested to support those who need them most. If you are from a lower income household, you will receive the highest grant. You can take out a maintenance loan to top up what you get. The maximum loan amount will depend on how much grant you receive.

If you are studying full-time you could also get up to £1,500 towards reducing your maintenance loan when you make the first loan repayment under the Welsh Government partial cancellation scheme.

What about tuition fees?

Most students won’t have to pay anything upfront for their course. Full and part-time students can apply for a separate loan to cover tuition fees. Tuition fees are set by the university or college. In Wales, tuition fees have been capped at £9,000 per year but in other parts of the UK you could be charged up to £9,250 per year for a full-time undergraduate course.

Student Finance Wales provides a loan to cover your tuition fees, which you will have to repay once you start earning over £25,000. Loans to cover tuition fees are not means-tested. You’ll be charged interest on your Tuition Fee Loan from the first day the money is paid to your university or college until the loan is repaid in full or cancelled.

How do I apply?

Students who a starting a course in 2018/19 can apply now. Further information for students starting a course in 2019/20 will be available later in the year.

Applying for student finance is simple and is done directly through the Student Finance Wales website The online application system for students applying for 2018/19 is now live. The application system for full-time students starting their course in 2019/20 will be open in the spring. Part-time and postgraduate students will be able to apply in early summer.

Student Finance Wales is a service delivered by the Student Loans Company. It provides student finance on behalf of the Welsh Government to students from Wales entering higher education in the UK.

Remember you can apply for grants and loans to help with your living costs and a loan to cover your tuition fees upfront.

For up-to-date information about when you can apply, follow Student Finance Wales on Twitter and Facebook or bookmark the website.



We’re pleased to announce our latest speakers to the Seren 2018: Above and Beyond annual conference taking place on 4-6 December.

Andrea Jones – Head of Undergraduate Studies (Music) and Head of Learning & Teaching, Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama – Applying for the Creative Industries

Andrea Jones graduated from the Royal Academy of Music, London in 1996, having completed her violin studies with Howard Davis, Mateja Marinkovic and baroque violin with Simon Standage and Elisabeth Wallfisch. Since then she has enjoyed a varied and busy career as a freelance violinist, working with the majority of British period instrument groups often as section principal, co-leader or leader, with ensembles

such as The King’s Consort, The Gabrieli Consort, The Sixteen, The Academy of Ancient Music, The Hanover Band, The Early Opera Company, The Avison Ensemble, The English Baroque Soloists and The Orchestra Romantique et Revolutionnaire. Andrea has also combined her orchestral and chamber music activities with extensive commercial, recording, TV and film work.

Teaching has always been a significant part of Andrea’s core work and she has more than 25 years’ experience in this area. In 2004, she began working at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama as a teacher and lecturer, undertaking the role of BMus Award leader in 2013. In 2015 Andrea was appointed Head of Learning and Teaching and, as a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (2016) she is involved with many aspects of support for student experience and staff development. Current interests focus on developing programmes to support student journeys, with a particular interest in self-efficacy, resilience and personal development.

Sam Wenman – Widening Participation Outreach Programmes Manager, University of Bath – Studying in the UK vs Overseas

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I am the Widening Participation Outreach Programmes Manager at the University of Bath where I head up the University Preparation Team. We provide support and expertise to help ensure students

are making informed choices, submitting competitive and appropriate applications, and are in a position to make the most of their time at university.

I have been at the University for 5 years and have led the design and delivery of our programme of outreach activities including On Track to Bath, Widening Participation Summer Schools, Key Stage 4 curriculum support projects, as well as our portfolio of talks and workshops.

Before coming to the University I was Deputy Head of Sixth Form at Chancellor’s school in Hertfordshire where I also taught History. Prior to that I managed language schools in both Japan and Spain. I am a great believer in the transformative power of education and passionate about supporting people to explore their potential and make the most of their opportunities.

Sofya Lyakhova – Programme Leader of the Further Mathematics Support Programme, Wales – Maths and Further Maths


Sofya is the Programme Leader of the Further Mathematics Support Programme Wales. Sofya holds a PhD in pure mathematics from Bristol University and PGCE from Swansea Metropolitan University. Sofya’s early research interests were in the field of partial differential equations. She has led a number of research projects in mathematical education, such as student choice of mathematics post-16, transition from school to university mathematics and blended learning.

She is passionate about more children achieving well in mathematics to allow them to access interesting university courses and well paid jobs. Sofya developed the mathematics outreach programme and is the organiser of the RI Mathematics Master classes in Swansea University. She works with SEREN Hubs on STEP and MAT provision for A-level Mathematics students. Sofya is a Senior HEA Fellow and a member of BSRLM, ATM, MA and MEI.

Sandy Mill – Schools Liaison Officer, Magdalene College, University of Cambridge – Opening Address and Keynote, Thinking about Oxford and Cambridge, University Panel Discussion, University of Cambridge Stand


Sandy Mill is the Schools Liaison Officer for Magdalene College, University of Cambridge. A former secondary school teacher, he has worked extensively with the Seren hubs in North and West Wales for over three years. He is a founding member of the Cambridge Seren Support Group, and has overseen the creation of the Cambridge Seren Ambassadors programme.

Sandy can be found at the University of Cambridge stand, alongside current students to answer any questions that you have about living and studying at the university, as well as the courses they offer.

Michael Waters, Head of the Young Actors Studio, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama – Applying for the Creative Industries: Audition Process for Conservatoire/Drama School

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Michael trained at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (RWCMD) and over the last twenty years has successfully combined a career as a playwright and theatre director alongside broad range of roles in arts education. Following periods of study in Russia and Asia, Michael co-founded Antic Theatre and has worked on commissions with a broad range of organisations from high profile projects with the BBC, to community driven performances in collaboration with Dyfed Powys Police. He is currently Head of the Young Actors Studio at RWCMD.

Christina Evered – Trainee Solicitor, Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP – Getting Career Ready


Christina is a trainee solicitor at Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP in Cardiff. Before starting her career at Eversheds, Christina studied for her A-Levels at St David’s Catholic College and was awarded for gaining the highest mark in the UK for her A-Level Law exams. Subsequently, she went on to read Law with European Study at the University of Exeter gaining a 2:1 degree. During her time at university, she spent a year studying abroad in Maastricht, the Netherlands, to further her interest in the subject, as well as her interest in travel. The final stage in her education was studying the Legal Practice Course at BPP Law School in Bristol prior to starting her current role with Eversheds. Christina is currently working in the Real Estate Energy department assisting with various large scale renewable energy projects.

Samuel Coles – Customer Solutions, Commercial Banking Graduate, NatWest – Getting Career Ready

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I graduated from university of Plymouth in 2017 having completed a degree in Business studies specialising in Sales & Marketing. Alongside which I completed my Certificate in Digital Marketing through the IDM. I worked for a year in a variety of Sales & Marketing roles with a number of high profile names including Google, Microsoft and Hewlett Packard before setting my sights on graduate training schemes with a focus on the UK’s largest industry, financial services. I was fortunate enough to land a place on the graduate scheme with RBS in customer solutions and have been with the NatWest commercial coverage team since September 2018.

David Clarke – Professor, Cardiff University – Modern Foreign Languages

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David Clarke has been teaching German and European Studies in British universities since 2000. He has a wide range of teaching and research interests in the field of German and European culture, with a particular focus on memory and heritage. The masterclass will look at the many options available for students interested in taking a modern languages degree, before focusing on a key issue for research and teaching in modern languages today: how different societies come to terms with difficult pasts.

More speakers to be announced soon…
Seren 2018: Above and Beyond Speakers – Professionals’ Programme:
Ian Dickson, Mamta Arnott, Sarah Lewis – Estyn – MAT Policy Update

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Estyn’s mission is to achieve excellence for all learners in Wales by providing independent, high-quality inspection and advice services. Our vision is to be recognised through the expertise of our staff as an authoritative voice on education and training in Wales. We are responsible for inspecting the following education providers;

• Nursery schools and settings that are maintained by, or receive funding from, local authorities

• Primary schools

• Secondary schools

• Special schools

• Pupil referral units

• Independent schools

• Further education

• Independent specialist colleges

• Adult community learning

• Local authority education services for children and young people

• Regional education consortia

• Teacher education and training

• Welsh for adults

• Work-based learning

• Learning in the justice sector

Estyn also provides advice to the Welsh Government on quality and standards in education and training in Wales and publicises good practice based on inspection evidence.

Paul Martin – Project Manager, Advancing Access – Enriching MAT Learners

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Paul is the Project Manager for Advancing Access, an initiative of the 24 Russell Group universities. Advancing Access provides CPD for teachers and advisers through a combination of online resources, online events and regional conferences. Paul is also studying for a PhD in Education at the University of Warwick and his research is focusing on Widening Participation in Higher Education.

Ross Guy – Schools Liaison Manager, Durham University – University Panel Discussion

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After finishing university I joined the military to give me a chance to see the world. After five years as a weapons specialist I left and worked as a PE and maths teacher in a secondary school in Newcastle. I enjoyed this a lot, as was quickly made Head of PE and was part of the school’s leadership team. After ten years of teaching I became disillusioned with the direction of Secondary Education, so I decided to move into Higher Education with Durham University. I now travel around the UK, talking to students about university, and helping them with their applications.

Outside of work I spend my time playing and coaching rugby, and playing the drums in a 80s cover band. As can be seen from my colourful career, I tend to get quite restless, so who knows what I’ll be doing in a few years’ time…

More speakers to be announced soon…

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My experience of the Seren Network, and tips for the upcoming Seren Conference

By Alex Roberts – Conwy, Denbighshire 

Alex Roberts

“I’m Alex, a first year at Cambridge University studying Biological Natural Sciences, and over the past couple of years I have been involved in the Seren Network. I attended quite a few of their events, where I was given the opportunity to explore different subjects, and speak with people from a lot of universities, which helped me to decide the path I wanted to go down.

“The Seren Conference is a chance for you to find out specifics about choosing a course, universities, applications and other opportunities. There are a few things that you can do beforehand in preparation to make the most of your time there. It is important to plan what sessions you are going to attend, and to think about some questions you have on the relevant topics. So, for example, you’ve decided that you want to go to one of the subject talks (a particularly valuable resource if you aren’t sure about what course you want to do). Think about what you would need to know to begin making the decision of whether that course is the right one for you.

“Speaking to representatives of different universities at the conference gave me a clearer understanding of what was on offer. It is useful to try and have an idea of what it is that you want from a university, so that when you go to their stalls, you know what to consider, and what to ask. The representatives are good at giving you an idea of what their university is like, and what you need to do to get there should you like what you hear. I found this section of the day particularly helpful in choosing what universities to apply to, so don’t be scared to go and talk to people. Most universities will have copies of this year’s prospectus with them. They are invaluable in comparing universities, deciding on courses, and are extremely good for reference after the event – so don’t forget to pick one up!

“When it comes to making decisions about university, you aren’t realistically going to remember everything you hear or find out at the conference, a lot of which will be quite relevant. This is why it is important to take some notes. Though, it can be quite tempting to write every single thing down, and I have found that this can cause you to pay less attention to the talk itself, so try to keep it concise and just note down the most important things.

“Finally, make sure to be proactive. Ask lots of questions, tailor the event to what you need it to be, and find out what you need to know. Good luck, and enjoy!”

We are now fully booked for Tuesday 4th and Wednesday 5th December. There are still places available for Thursday 6th December and the good news is that the booking deadline has been extended to 21st November for this final date.

We’re pleased to announce our latest speakers to the Seren 2018: Above and Beyond annual conference taking place on 4-6 December.

Seren 2018: Above and Beyond Speakers – Students’ Programme:
Rebecca Watkins – Talent Attraction Manager, Dwr Cymru Welsh Water – Beyond Seren: Engaging with Employers

Rebecca Watkins

An HR professional with valuable experience and insight into employer requirements for recruitment including apprentice and graduate recruitment. My current role focuses on what our business wants in terms of talent, particularly in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.

Random, Interesting Facts – I appeared as an audience member on “The Saturday Show” (a very old kids tv programme). I have sung in choirs and held the lead female part in my School’s take on “Little Shop of Horrors”. I have also received Classical singing training as part of my performing arts background – I’m not very good though.


Luke Healey – Freelance Tutor – Language and Culture Masterclass – Art History and Visual Studies: How to talk about Art, not-Art, and the difference between the two


I completed my PhD in Art History and Visual Studies at the University of Manchester in Winter 2017, submitting a thesis entitled “The Art of Football: Visual Culture and the Beautiful Game, 1992-2016”. Chapters from this thesis looking at subjects ranging from Zinedine Zidane to animated GIFs to tabloid treatments of “diving” have been published in a variety of places, including Cabinet magazine and two academic anthologies.

I have taught and arranged conferences and seminar programmes on a range of topics relating to art, literature and cultural theory, including tutoring on the Brilliant Club Scholars Programme module “Through the Looking Glass: An Introduction to Literary Theory” in 2016-17. I am currently busy on a number of essays about the relationship between sport and The Arts, in addition to working as a freelance tutor for a variety of companies including UKCN, an organisation that advises and assists international students in applying for postgraduate positions at prestigious UK universities.

Liam Rahman – Director & Co-Founder, E-Qual Education – Studying in the US – Studying overseas as an undergraduate / Career panel / International opportunities


A native of South Wales, Liam studied at Yale University (USA) and Yale-NUS College (Singapore), majoring in Philosophy, Politics & Economics (PPE). Prior to returning to Wales to further develop E-Qual, Liam also worked in investment management at BW Group and Goldman Sachs. Liam is a member of Yale’s Alumni Schools Committee (ASC), representing the university’s admissions and outreach efforts in the UK. An avid supporter of the Seren Network, in early 2018, Liam worked with Seren to establish the network’s partnership with the Yale Young Global Scholars (YYGS) summer programme.

Lauren Hughes – Higher Education Advisor, University of East Anglia – Effective Study Skills

I am a qualified teacher with three years of teaching experience. For the last two years, I have been working at the University of East Anglia as a Higher Education Adviser. I work with sixth form students in Kent, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, West Sussex, East Sussex and Dorset but also travel to other parts of the UK now and again. I speak to students about finance, choosing a university and the right course, opportunities at

university, studying abroad and how to write personal statements.

Dr Hannah Hodgkiss-Geere – Senior Lecturer in Small Animal Cardiology/Director of Undergraduate Recruitment, Institute of Veterinary Science, University of Liverpool – Applying to veterinary medicine and what can I do with a veterinary degree (and not just clinical practice!)

I am a veterinary surgeon who has been practising for over 12 years. During this time I have worked in farm animal and small animal general practice and am now a European Specialist in Small Animal Cardiology,

working in a University and actively teaching veterinary students. I have also worked in scientific research and have an MSc in virology, a PhD in cardiac stem cells and have ongoing research in both stem cells and

cardiac diseases. I also now am the Director of Undergraduate Recruitment for the University of Liverpool Vet School and am now actively engaging with students who may want to be vets, but also with students who may not have considered veterinary science as a possible degree option.

Angharad Thomas – Head of Strategy and Insights, Golley Slater Cardiff – Applying for the creative industries / Beyond Seren: engaging with employers


Angharad is originally from Gowerton in Swansea. She went to Ysgol Gyfun Gwyr, a Welsh medium comprehensive in Swansea. After school, she went on to study Modern Languages at Cambridge University – focusing on Italian and French. Her first graduate job was at DDB London (now Adam&EveDDB) a creative agency in Paddington. Though she started her advertising career in account management, she then went on to be a strategist (or planner) and worked at top global agencies including Wieden & Kennedy and WCRS. During her time in London, she worked on campaigns that have won awards at Cannes, DNADs, Creative Circle as well as IPA and APG effectiveness awards.

Though London was great fun, the pull of Wales was strong. Last year, she moved back to Wales to work at integrated creative agency Golley Slater, where she is now Head of Strategy and Insights. She works across all communications – from media, PR to, big TV ads. She says it’s great to be working at home in Wales, after being away for so long.

Dr Mandy Peffers – Wellcome Trust Clinical Intermediate Fellow/ Senior Lecturer – University of Liverpool – Getting into veterinary medicine


After a degree in Animal Science at the University of Leeds, I undertook my veterinary degree at The Royal Veterinary College, University of London and qualified as a veterinarian in 1995. I then spent 11 years in industry and private practice before going back to do a PhD supported by the Wellcome Trust. I first undertook a one-year Wellcome Trust Veterinary Research Entry Fellowship before becoming a Wellcome Trust Integrated Veterinary Training Fellow. The first three years of funding were for a PhD entitle ‘Proteomic and transcriptomic signatures of cartilage ageing and disease’. The next three years of the fellowship were in a post-doctoral role in which I studied ‘A Systems Biology Approach to Musculoskeletal Ageing’. I am currently a Wellcome Trust Clinical Intermediate Fellow studying ‘The role of small nucleolar RNAs in cartilage ageing and disease’. My research group consists of four PhD students and a research assistant.

I am a member of the ‘Admissions and Widening Participation Committee of the University of Liverpool Veterinary School’. As part of this role I interview potential vet students and assess the work experience documentation undertaken by prospective students. I am also veterinary undergraduate intercalation co-ordinator.

David Willock – Reader – School of Chemistry, Cardiff University – Natural Sciences with a focus on Chemistry and the overlap of Physics and Chemistry.


The research area will involve looking at the way that molecules can adsorb and react on solid surfaces.

My first degree is in Physics with Electronics from Salford University. I then moved to London to the Physics department of Queen Mary College, University of London to study photoconductivity in polymer materials. As part of that work I became interested in computer simulation applied to materials and after gaining the PhD moved to University College London to apply modelling to organic crystal structures in the Department of Chemistry there. Ever since I have worked in the application of computational techniques to chemical problems and am now working in Cardiff using theoretical chemistry to understand practical catalysis. In particular how surfaces can activate molecules to build new chemical structures.

Professor Dylan E. Jones – Deputy Vice Chancellor and Dean of the Athrofa: Institute of Education, University of Wales, Trinity St David – Maximising your Bilingualism


Prof Dylan E. Jones is Deputy Vice Chancellor and Dean of the Athrofa: Institute of Education at the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David (UWTSD)
Dylan ,of Bryncrug, Tywyn, Gwynedd was also Chair of the Welsh Government School Practitioner Panel, established to advise the Minister and support in the development of education policy in Wales. He was also a member of the Qualifications Wales Shadow Board.

Mark Llewelyn Evans – Opera Singer / Entrepreneur / Author / Creative Director, ABC of Opera Ltd – Applying for the Creative Industries


Welsh baritone Mark studied at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and the National Opera Studio, London and has worked alongside many major names in the entertainment industry including Katherine Jenkins, Alfie Boe, David Blaine, Rob Brydon, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. Mark`s career has taken him throughout the world from singing title roles in international opera houses, his one man show to 1,000`s, a blockbuster

movie as well as the ‘Bread of Heaven’ for The Six Nations Rugby tournament at the Millennium Stadium,

to 75,000. Mark’s debut album ‘Let the Light in’ topped the UK classical charts. He then released a

single, ‘Tell my Father’ performing with the Band of the Welsh Guards which became a number one in the

UK, benefitting the Welsh Guards Afghanistan Appeal. Mark was very honoured to be part of this appeal.

Mark is artistic director for Opera Sark, as well as Founder and Creative Director of ABC of Opera Ltd, an

educational project that delivers cross curriculum workshops introducing children to the wonder of

classical music. To date ABC of Opera has delivered to over 150 school with their first book of four “The

Academy of Barmy Composer” being publish in 2019 with a stage show to follow.

Ffion Bailey – Education Liaison Officer, University of St Andrews – Studying in the UK vs Studying Abroad

Originally from North Wales, I attended my local Welsh language schools before studying History at The University of St Andrews. Having enjoyed my time there so much, I decided to stay and started working for Admissions. The University of St Andrews combines the very best of our six centuries of history with contemporary culture and outstanding teaching. It is a busy and close-knit community which brings together

people from all over the world. We have been voted 1st for Student Satisfaction in the UK (National Student Survey 2018) and are ranked 1st in Scotland and 3rd in the UK in the league tables (The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019, The Guardian University Guide 2019). If you have any questions about St Andrews, please do ask.

I am contributing to the ‘Studying in the UK vs Studying Abroad’ talk in order to explain the flexibility and breadth of the Scottish degree structure and shine a light on all the great universities that students have to choose from. The choice of which university to attend is a personal one to you, and it is important that you study and live at an institution where you will be happy. My aim is to give you all the information you need to make that choice.

Seren 2018: Above and Beyond Speakers – Professionals’ Programme:
Mitchell Purnell – Area Manager, Unifrog Education Ltd – Enriching MAT Learners


At Unifrog, we believe that destinations – where students end up after school – is even more important than their academic performance. We partner with almost 1500 schools worldwide, to support students to progress into the best opportunity for them.

We do this by providing a one-stop-shop where students can explore their interests, then find and successfully apply for their best next step after school. We also enable the staff to manage the progression process effectively.

Luke Olsson and Michael Grugan – Graduate Teaching Assistant, York St John University – Student Health and Wellbeing- Perfectionism and Mental Health among Students

olsson MGrugan-Staff-Profile

Luke and Michael are currently doctoral researchers at York St John University where they are also members of the Motivation, Performance, and Well-being (MPAW) research group. This group is amongst the largest in the world dedicated to examining the causes and consequences of being perfectionistic. Over the past 4 years, the group has produced over 80 peer-reviewed publications in leading international journal and presented on the topic of perfectionism around the world. Their research has been funded by various organisations including the Wellcome Trust, The Society for Education, Music and Psychology Research, The Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation, and the European Union (Framework 7).

Anna Burchfiel – WP and UG Recruitment Officer, University of Bristol – The UCAS Process – an insight into the timeline and process of applying to university, and advice on what to do on A Level Results Day


Anna has been working in higher education for the past five years, assisting young people from a wide variety of backgrounds to access elite universities, degree subjects and professions. Anna has run

Confirmation and Clearing activities at a Russell Group university, and has a thorough understanding of UK university admissions.

More speakers to be announced soon…

Studying abroad: why might you look at studying outside the UK for your degree?

By Rowena Boddington

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The Seren Above and Beyond Conference is a perfect way to learn about options outside the UK and especially about American universities

The Above and Beyond Conference is a great place to explore university options, but you might not have thought about studying outside of the UK entirely!

When I was 17, I had no idea that it was possible to study my degree abroad. I was lucky to discover a way to go, and having never been to the USA before I jumped on a plane on my own and headed off to a university in California. It was the most amazing period of my life and totally transformed me.

These days, I work at an organisation called Fulbright, which is the EducationUSA centre for the UK. We give free advice to students about how US universities work and how to apply to them.

Every year, students from Wales decide to make the big jump across the pond to study in the USA.

They do this for several reasons:

  • Subject flexibility and broad curriculum: in the USA, you don’t have to know what you want to study when you apply to universities, and all students will study a range of subjects before specialising in one or two (called majoring)
  • Study at a top university: Many of the world’s top universities are in the USA, and they produce world leading research and incredible teaching
  • Opportunities to internationalise your CV: in today’s connected world, employers are looking to fill their top jobs with people who have experienced different things and are comfortable and confident in working with a wide range of different people. Studies show that people who study abroad have higher average career earnings.
  • Experience the fun of campus life: US universities are places where you will work hard and play hard. Learning is encouraged inside and outside the classroom, and many classes have a practical element to them. Campus life is vibrant and full of opportunities, and school spirit is strong!
  • Generous funding is available: There are scholarships and financial aid available for Welsh students, and if you’re open minded you will find it can cost a lot less than you think – and even, in some cases, less than the UK!
  • Have an adventure and explore the world: The US is a big place with a lot of different people, and learning about and understanding them is a fascinating process. While you will have opportunities to travel and try new things, you will also boost your self-confidence and gain independence!

If you’d like to explore your dreams of studying outside the UK, the Seren conference is a great place to come and learn about the opportunities available. Attending the conference will enable you to:

  • Hear from representatives from top US universities
  • Hear from Welsh students who have, or are, studying in the USA
  • Discover opportunities such as the Seren partnership for summer programmes at top universities and also the Sutton Trust US Programme, which supports high achieving students from low income families apply to US universities.
  • Learn about study abroad opportunities as part of a UK degree, and postgraduate study in the US
  • Connect with Fulbright, who work to help students from Wales apply to US universities and learn more about the application process

We are now fully booked for Tuesday 4th and Wednesday 5th December. There are still places available for Thursday 6th December and the good news is that the booking deadline has been extended to 21st November for this final date.


How the ‘Above and Beyond’ conference helped me to help my students

Llŷr Evans
Key Stage 5 Leader
Ysgol Gyfun Garth Olwg

Mr Ll?r

“We all know what a difficult position being Leader of 6th Form is. We deal with a huge gamut of abilities and preferred destinations. These range, of course from job opportunities and apprenticeships to the most demanding of entry requirements into the most prestigious   universities in the world.

“Giving time to the most able has never been a huge priority as they are far too often referred to as the ones that ‘can’ and therefore ‘will’. We would always as a matter of course strive to assist these students but with all the requirements of running a 6th Form, these individuals receive much less time as we would like to allocate them.

“The ‘Hwb Seren’ project has completely transformed our day to work with these exceptional young people and this starts with the initial conference in Cefn Lea.

“The opportunities to understand and visualise these ‘destinations’ were superbly orchestrated. It afforded me a rare opportunity to engage with professionals in universities and understand a little more about assisting my learners in gaining access to these institutions. The lectures were invaluable for me and the students. I obtained insight into Oxbridge Applications and further understood the often complex entry requirements. I was able to utilise this information directly with several of our students.

“I was fortunate enough to also ‘drop in’ on many of the lectures available to the students. This allowed me to develop a series of ‘follow on’ workshops at school. We set up on-site interviews with input from Hwb Seren for the first time. We could tailor these to include the demanding questions which are asked by highly selective institutions.

“We rarely have students who to apply to ‘Oxbridge’ but this year we had two. One was a very close call but was still nonetheless offered a place at Durham University (which is in itself highly selective) and the other gained a place at Wadham College, Oxford. He is a featured in the Hwb Seren Pamphlet by the way!

“Without the assistance of the Hwb Seren conference, I am not even sure these two pupils would have contemplated even applying to ‘Oxbridge’ or any other highly selective institution. They are the first to admit that ‘Oxbridge’ was not even on their personal radar!

“The conference is an opportunity which is too good to miss. It empowers us to properly assist the talented young people with whom we work with every day.

“When I see our students gaining access to some of the most prestigious universities, I know that I have the best job in the world!”

Bookings have been flying in. If you haven’t booked yet, don’t leave it until the last minute as places are limited.

Closing date: 16 November


The Royal College of GPs: How to apply to Medicine

By Dr. Robert Morgan, Royal College of GPs

Deciding on a career in medicine is probably the easiest choice you’re going to make this year. It’s once you’ve made this decision that the work truly begins, as you’re taken on a journey that offers you a course and a job unlike any other.

There are 33 medical schools in the UK and it’s important you select the right one for you. This will depend on many factors, but a very useful resource is the medical school’s council website ( This will have all the information you need regarding entry requirements, course structure and expectations of your personal statement and interview. And don’t forget to visit the websites of any universities you’re interested in.


Dr. Robert Morgan

Preparing to go to university should involve doing some sort of work experience upon which you can reflect in your personal statement. Work experience does not have to be in a clinical setting such as a hospital or a GP practice, but it should provide an opportunity to develop an understanding of how the skills and attributes you have used in your work experience will be applied to a career in medicine. It may be useful to keep a reflective diary of your work experiences that you can use when writing your statement.

Most medical schools will require you to take either the UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) or the BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) and attend an interview. Both UKCAT and BMAT websites are useful in giving an overall picture of what you need to do for these tests and which universities use them. Remember though, like any test, practice will always help and both websites have practice questions.

Similarly, before you go to your interview, it’s important to find out what type of interview you will get and prepare for it in advance . All universities web pages will give you details of the type of interview you are likely to have. You should also try to go to Open Days to find out more. Some universities offer what you and I might think of as a traditional interview i.e. being asked questions by a panel. However, more and more universities, are adopting multiple mini interviews whereby applicants rotate round a number of stations, each lasting a few minutes and each exploring the personal qualities and attributes important in developing good doctors for the future.

All interviews, regardless of the format, will test your ability to think, interpret data and communicate your ideas. Once you know you have an interview and what type it is, you should practice as much as possible as this will make it go better on the day. For further information visit:


Max Rees, former Seren student now studying Medicine in UCL, says:

“When it comes to applying to Medicine, preparation is key and remaining both calm and focused through the remaining few months of A-Levels will get you through. Applications are due in early October of Year 13, and by then you should have completed either the UKCAT or BMAT (or both) entry examinations.

“Year 13 can be very stressful, more so at the beginning of the year, because there is quite a big jump up from the difficulty of Year 12 but keep up-to-date with the work and try to forget about your application after you’ve sent it off as much as you can. You should start getting offers for interview around Christmas time up until March, and hopefully after your interviews you’ll begin to get your offers of places.

“If you don’t get offers, however, don’t let this affect your performance in you’re A-Levels because good grades will stand you in good stead to reapply with more experience the following year.”