Higher Education Jargon Buster

Published by Newman University on

Students standing at reception at Newman Universtiy

Whether you are a new or existing student, there can be a lot of jargon used in higher education which can be confusing! In this article, we explain some of the most common terms used by universities:


Bachelor’s Degree

The most common form of an undergraduate degree is a bachelor’s degree. Depending on the course studied, Bachelor is often abbreviated to BA for Bachelor of Arts or BSc for Bachelor of Science.  

Campus University

A university where everything is based on one site, including student accommodation, lecture rooms, and libraries. A campus university may still have more than one site, but each site will have its own facilities.

City University

A city university will have different buildings across a town or city, rather than on one site. The buildings are often close to one another and located in a central area.


A service run by UCAS that begins in July. This is how applicants can start at university if they didn’t obtain a place before the deadline, or if they didn’t achieve the grades for the course they have chosen.

Conditional Offer

An applicant is made a conditional offer by a university if they are predicted to meet the entry requirements of the course. The offer is dependent upon the applicant meeting the requirements, for example achieving certain results in their BTEC, A Levels, or other Level 3 qualifications.

Unconditional Offer

An applicant is made an unconditional offer by a university if they have already met the entry requirements of the course they are applying for. Some universities may also issue unconditional offers to applicants who are predicted very good results.

Entry Requirements

The criteria that applicants must meet to be offered a place on a course, such as achieving certain results at school or college. Different universities and different courses will have different entry requirements which will be listed on UCAS, university websites, and university prospectuses.

Higher Education (HE)

An optional study taken after secondary education. Higher education can be studied at a range of institutions including universities and further education colleges. Higher education is sometimes abbreviated to HE.

Open Days

Open days are there for applicants and their families to go and look around a university. They are an opportunity to see university facilities and speak to staff and students to get a feel for what studying there might be like.

Student Finance

Student finance refers to the student loans provided by the government to help students pay for course fees and living costs. Most students apply online through Student Finance England. The amount of money available depends on the course studied and household income.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees are the actual cost of the course studied at university. This is most often paid by the government directly to the university as part of a student loan.


UCAS stands for University and Colleges Applications Service. Almost everyone who is applying for a full-time undergraduate degree course at a UK university will use the UCAS website to apply to universities.


An undergraduate degree is the first level of study undertaken at a university. Students studying for their first degree are called undergraduate students or sometimes undergrad students.

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