Welcome to the S6 Resource page! Throughout the year we will be adding recordings of our Transitions Programme, as well as resources to support you with applying to higher education, applying for funding and tips and advice for taking the next steps.

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Choosing the right course for you

Higher Education is learning at college or university at SCQF Level 7 or above. Typically, you study for HNCs and HNDs at college and undergraduate degrees at university.

The UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) website can give you a good overview of university degrees, while it’s best to go directly to college websites to find out about their courses.

Check entry requirements carefully and remember some will include National 5 qualifications.

Things to consider when choosing a course

These can all be found by researching on the college or university websites. Even courses with the same name can be taught differently!

This research will also be helpful when writing your personal statement so it’s worth taking the time.

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Choosing the right place for you - Find your Campus

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This video is an introduction to the Find Your Campus Resource created collaboratively by SHEP programmes LIFT OFF and Aspire North.

Scroll down to use the resource.

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Click on the icons to find out about the Higher Education institutions across Scotland.  

Applying to Higher Education

Once you have chosen some courses that you like the look of, the next step is applying! Remember you can apply to both College and University if this suits your plans.

You apply directly to college through each college website, while UCAS is for University applications. You can apply to up to 5 courses via UCAS*. Make sure you are aware of all the relevant deadlines!

Both UCAS and college applications will involve inputting things like personal details and qualifications. Most will ask for a personal statement which explains your motivations for studying the course and what you can bring to the college or university.

*unless you are applying for Medicine, Veterinary Medicine or Dentistry, then the limit is 4 courses with the 5th being a back-up choice.

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Contextual Admissions

Universities recognise that your grades can be influenced by a range of factors. To make the admissions process fairer, they use ‘contextual admissions’. They take into account certain challenges that you may have faced, and may offer reduced entry requirements (sometimes called ‘minimum’ or ‘adjusted’ entry requirements) or give further consideration to your application.

Different institutions use different factors, so make sure you check. Look for information about ‘widening access’ or ‘widening participation’ on university websites.

Some information, like your school or where you live, will be available through the personal details section of an application. Other information may need to be disclosed separately. 

These are all positive disclosures that will ensure you are offered tailored support. Providing this information will not negatively affect your application.

Factors that may be considered

We also have more information about applying and support at university in our ‘Support Toolkit’ at the bottom of the page.

Personal Statement Support 

You are entitled to send LIFT OFF up to 3 drafts of your Personal Statement. A member of the LIFT OFF team will review and send back your Personal Statement with comments and advice. Please note feedback may take between 3-5 working days. 

Things to remember in your personal statement...

Maintaining positivity throughout your statement is so important – in your statement you really need to focus on the personal skills, qualities and attributes that make you an ideal candidate for Higher Education.

Try our three section method!

Each section can, of course, be more than one paragraph and you don’t need to stick rigidly to these section divisions, but each personal statement should hit markers such as:

  • your motivation to study.
  • your knowledge of the course.
  • your relevant skills and experience.

3 section method:

  1. Why you want to study the course?
  2. Demonstrate your knowledge of the course. Make clear why you are the ideal candidate for higher education.
  3. Detail your relevant experience outside the classroom which shows your dedication to your subject and to Higher Education.

Don’t be tempted to share or copy statements – all are passed through a plagiarism detection software.

Remember, use the LIFT OFF formula from our previous session to help you write an original personal statement.

This is VERY important – you don’t have a lot of space, so tick to the point! 

TOP TIP: try removing any reference to the subject you are applying for from your statement. If it’s possible for someone to still guess the subject, your statement is clearly maintaining relevance throughout. If not, it might be worth doing another edit to focus your writing a bit more.

Let others read your personal statement and be open to help and advice.

Perhaps let a subject teacher read your statement, particularly if you are applying to study that subject at college/university.

Transitioning to Higher Education

Starting to think about moving on to higher education? We’ve added lots of information and advice on taking this next step!

If you’re currently in the process of applying to college courses, just scroll down to see our application advice, including personal statement support.

Types of offers

If you have applied for higher education courses at university or college, the institutions are now considering your applications and deciding whether to offer you a place.

For courses that include interviews, auditions or portfolio submissions as part of their application, you might get an invitation to one of these before getting to the offer-making stage.

Examples include portfolios of work for Art & Design courses, interviews for some college courses as well as Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, Dentistry and Teaching, and auditions for performance-based courses. You should get more information via email. Make sure you read it through carefully, take note of any deadlines and try to be well-prepared.

Have a look at the UCAS Conservatoire’s audition advice leaflet. It’s focussed on auditions for Conservatoires, but the advice is relevant to other auditions too!

UCAS and My WoW have good advice on preparing for interviews (university and college interviews respectively).

Congratulations! This means you have been offered a place on the course. If this is where you want to go, you won’t need to do anything other than accept the offer.

Congratulations! You have been offered a place on the course, but you will need to meet some entry requirements. These could be specific grades and qualifications that you need to achieve, obtaining a disclosure for working with children, or it could be passing a summer school. The offer details should tell you what you need to achieve to get in.

Unfortunately you have not been offered a place on the course. Try not to fret -you still have plenty of options. See our FAQs for more information.

If you see this on UCAS it means that the course you applied for is no longer running. It doesn’t happen very often and you should be able to add an alternative course instead. It might be that too few people applied, key teaching staff left, or there isn’t enough funding to run the course.

Colleges are more likely to email you if a course is withdrawn, as you apply directly to them.

Replying to offers on UCAS

Wait until you have heard back from all your choices before you make any decisions. Some institutions are quicker than others, so don’t be put off if you haven’t heard anything from some. Technically universities have until 16th May to finalise any offers, although most will be before then.
When all your choices have responded, you should get an email from UCAS. At that point, if you log on to UCAS there will be a deadline for you to reply by. For example, if you receive your last decision on or before 16 May 2024, your reply deadline will be 6 June 2024.
You can only firmly accept one offer (unless you have an insurance choice) and you have to decline all the other offers. It’s difficult to go back and change this, so it’s best to be sure before you do it!

You have firmly accepted this unconditional offer – this is where you will be going when the course starts! You can’t go back and change your mind later.

You are firmly accepting this conditional offer. However, you get an insurance choice in case you do not meet those conditions.

You have accepted this as an insurance choice. This is your back-up option if you don’t meet the conditions of your conditional firm offer. Make sure this has lower or different entry requirements to your conditional offer!

You must decline all the other offers.

Funding your studies

If you are a Scottish resident, you don’t have to pay tuition fees to study higher education courses in Scotland. However, you do have to make sure they are paid to the university or college on your behalf!

You will also need money to support you while studying, for things like transport, food, rent, bills, textbooks etc. Depending on your circumstances, you could get a student loan, a bursary (free money) or a combination of the two.

There is additional funding:

Arranging for tuition fee payments and support for living costs is done through the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS).  Student Information Scotland is also a great place to visit if you have questions about funding your studies.

Bursary; scholarship; grant...?

These are all different words for ‘free money’ to support your studies. You might need to meet eligibility criteria, such as being from a particular town or region, or achieving certain grades in your exams. Some may be only for certain courses, or other personal circumstances may be taken into account.

The money can come from charities and individual colleges or universities.

Student support in Higher Education

There are load of different types of support that you can make use of while you are studying. It’s a good idea to find out what’s available before you start. The main thing to remember is to reach out if you need help!

Types of student support

These can all be found by researching on the college or university websites. The Student’s Association or Student Union is a good place to start –  they usually have advocacy and support groups run by students, for students.

There is also specific support for students with individual needs: see our Support Toolkit for more information.

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Looking for more information?

Have questions about life in higher education?! Ask our lovely student volunteers! They will be delighted to answer your questions.

Check out this free course that can help you prepare for studying at university level!


Articulation is a pathway between full time HN courses at college such as an HNC or HND, into a degree at university. The pathway will have been formally identified and agreed between the college and the university.  It’s based on the fact that HNCs and HNDs are at SCQF Levels 7 and 8, the same as years 1 and 2 of a degree.

This means that you could potentially get direct entry into year 2 of university with an HNC, or direct entry into year 3 at university with an HND.

Find out more about Articulation and the different routes and courses on offer below:

University Open Days

Choosing a university or college is just as important as finding the right subject. With so many different higher education experiences on offer, figuring out where to apply to can be overwhelming. An Open Day is the best way of getting a real taste of campus life. It’s not just about the academic side –  think about what clubs, societies and additional activities you might like to take part in. What are the facilities like? If you are thinking of moving away, could you see yourself living here? Or if you are thinking of commuting, what are the travel options?

As well as getting to see the facilities, an open day is a great opportunity to find out more about the different courses on offer from the people who live and breathe your subject – those who teach and study it, current students and academic staff.

Wherever you decide to study, it’s important to do as much research as possible so you make the choice that is right for you.

Royal Conservatoire

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Napier University

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Glasgow Caledonian University

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Dundee University

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Queen Margaret University

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University of the Highlands & Islands

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Heriot-Watt University

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Robert Gordon University

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St Andrews University

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Abertay University

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Glasgow University

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Strathclyde University

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Aberdeen University

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West of Scotland University

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Fife College

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Edinburgh University

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Stirling University

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Dundee & Angus College

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Starting your Personal Statement
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UCAS Personal Statement worksheet
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Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation
Check if you are in a priority postcode

Key dates

UCAS 2023 Applications 

Completed UCAS applications for 2023 entry can be submitted from this date onwards, but you can get started on your application before this!

5th Sep 2023 


UCAS Early Deadline 

For applications to Oxford / Cambridge, Medicine, Vet Medicine & Dentistry 

16th October  2023, 18:00


Most College applications open 

Each college sets it’s own deadline so check online

January 2024


UCAS 2023 Deadline 

Application deadline for most applicants, who did not submit in Oct 23. 

31st Jan 2024, 18:00 


UCAS Extra Opens 

UCAS Extra is a service that allows you to apply to additional courses.

28th Feb 2024


SAAS Applications Open 

Funding applications for tuition fees, student loans & additional financial support

April 2024 (TBC)


Deadline for Uni decisions

If you applied through UCAS, this is when universities have to get back to you by.

16th May 2024, 18:00 


Reply to your offers

You must accept or decline your offers by this date. 

6th June 2024


SAAS Application Deadline

Submit your funding app by this date to ensure funding for starting your course.

30th June 2024 (TBC) 


UCAS Clearing Opens 

If you don’t receive a UCAS offer, use clearing to apply to alternative courses or universities.

5th July 2024 


Support Toolkit

Supporting students with individual needs:

For some students, their individual circumstances can have a significant impact on their decision to go to university or college and on their experience when they are there. Below are practical tips and useful resources to consider before, during and after you make an application to Higher Education.

Simply click the tab more information:

Many universities and colleges support in place to help students with caring responsibilities. If you are responsible for providing unpaid care to a family member, partner or friend, you may be able receive extra support during your studies.

If you are aged 16-25 and have caring responsibilities, you are considered to be a ‘young adult carer’.

What support is available?

If you are balancing your studies with the responsibility of caring for another person, this can be challenging. To help you manage this many universities and colleges have put support in place. This can include:

  1. Academic help – flexible deadlines, managing workload, priority access to academic or career opportunities.
  2. Financial help – bursaries and other financial support. You might be eligible for a scholarship, grant or bursary.
  3. Health and Wellbeing support – student support services on campus, induction days and visits, giving you a chance to discuss your support needs

The help varies between each institution, so do your research before you apply. Each website will provide more details, but you can always contact the student services team directly to find out more.

Top tips:

Do your research – it’s a good idea to find out what support is available before you make your final decision.

Self-declare – tell the college/university about your circumstances. Knowing a prospective student has caring responsibilities allows them to put support in place, to make sure you get the most from your university experience. There are several ways you can tell the institution about your circumstances:

  1. Personal statement (see below)
  2. With your permission, your referee can mention your circumstances in the reference.
  3. Self-declare in the application – you can state that you have caring responsibilities in the ‘More about You’ section on UCAS.
  4. Contact the institution directly – the contact details for student services will be on their website.

Use your personal statement – highlight the skills, strengths, and positive attributes your caring responsibility has allowed you to develop. 

More information and help:

If you’re a refugee or asylum seeker applying to higher education, there may be support available to help you with finance and your studies. It is a good idea to contact course providers before you apply, to discuss if they can offer you support, and what this might be.

Tuition fees and financial help:

The financial help available will depend on your immigration status and where you live (your residential status) – keep updated on the UKCISA website for more information.

Top tips:

Do your research – it’s a good idea to find out what support is available before you make your final decision.

Self-declare – tell the college/university about your circumstances. There are several ways you can tell the institution about your circumstances:

  1. Personal statement (see below)
  2. With your permission, your referee can mention your circumstances in the reference.
  3. Self-declare in the application – you can state that you are an asylum seeker or refugee in the ‘More about You’ section on UCAS.
  4. Contact the institution directly – the contact details for student services will be on their website.

Use your personal statement – highlight the skills, strengths, and positive attributes your situation has allowed you to develop. 

More information and help:

Every year, over 60,000 students with a physical and/or mental health condition, long-term illness, or learning difference apply through UCAS to study at a university or college in the UK, and access a range of support available to help with their studies, day-to-day activities, travel, or lifestyle.

Don’t forget to tell the university or college about your circumstances in your application – this helps to put the support in place ready for your arrival. This information is not used to make a decision on your application and it is only shared with those involved in supporting you, or making the arrangements for your support.

Do your research:

Research is vital to making your choices and there is lots to think about. Never be put off by any assumptions as most course can be made accessible with the appropriate support.

The provider’s website will be your starting point. There should be advice about learning and assessment methods, support provided, and the contact details for student support services.

Open Days:

Open Days are a valuable way to find out about a university or college first-hand – you can tour the facilities, speak to staff and current students, and really get a feel for whether you would like to study there. UCAS has a GUIDE on how to prepare for open days and visits if you have a disability.


Self-declaring in your application will ensure that the right support is in place. The information you provide is only used by student services team to arrange the support you may need before you arrive and is never used to make an academic judgment on your application. You can include details about any physical/mental health conditions or learning differences in the ‘More About You’ section on UCAS.

We recommend getting in touch with the college or university once you have accepted an offer to discuss the arrangements for your arrival. It’s is important to note that you are in full control of your support and if you decide you don’t need it, you don’t have to use it.

If you’re care experienced and applying to Higher Education, there’s support available to help you with finance, settling in, and accommodation.

This information is confidential and won’t be used against you! It lets the right person at the college or university know that you might need financial or other support, and can help you put that in place before you start your course.

Top tips:

Do your research – it’s a good idea to find out what support is available before you make your final decision.

Self-declare – tell the college/university that you are care experienced. There are several ways you can tell the institution:

  1. Personal statement
  2. With your permission, your referee can mention your circumstances in the reference.
  3. Self-declare in the application – you can state that you are care experienced in the ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ section on UCAS.
  4. Contact the institution directly – the contact details for student services will be on their website.

Scholarships, Grants and Bursaries – if you’ve spent time in care, there are specific scholarships, grants, and bursaries available to support you at university – check institution websites for their specific funding information. SAAS also have a Care Experienced Student Bursary – see HERE.

More information and help:

Universities and colleges welcome students from a diverse range of backgrounds and experience. Students whose parent(s) or carer(s) are current or former UK Armed Forces personnel may be able to get extra support from their chosen college or university.

Institutions understand that service children may experience disruption to their education, or may have been restricted in their course choices. They also take into consideration that young people can face additional challenges when a parent or carer is deployed. It is important to let them know your circumstances as it allows them to consider your academic achievements in context.

Access additional support:

Service children often develop highly valued, unique skills and strengths as a result of their circumstances, such as being an independent learner, or being able to adapt to different situations quickly.

You may be able to access additional support this can include financial help, mentoring, and study support.

Self-declare – tell the college/university that your parents or carers are/were in the armed forces. There are several ways you can tell the institution:

  1. Personal statement
  2. With your permission, your referee can mention your circumstances in the reference.
  3. Self-declare in the application – you can state that your parent(s) or carer(s) have been or are in the Armed Forces in the ‘More about you’ section on UCAS.
  4. Contact the institution directly – the contact details for student services will be on their website.
More information and help:

Please contact LIFT OFF if you have any questions related to your individual needs.


For courses starting September 2024:

£27.50 is the fee for all 2024 undergraduate applications. You will be able to make up to 5 course choices to apply for.

To maximise your chances of receiving an offer, LIFT OFF recommend using all 5 course choices (if possible).

Entry requirements vary between universities and colleges. Check institution websites for the most up-to-date and accurate entry requirements. Look carefully as there may be subject-specific requirements and N5s.

If you are unsure you meet the University’s entry criteria, it is best to contact their admissions team for further guidance.

It is important that your application contains a Personal Statement that is focused and relevant to the course and/or career you are interested in. It would be difficult to write a statement which blends your experiences, skills and knowledge of both Physics and Drama.

In this instance, you may also want to explore if one of your passions can be done as an extracurricular or additional module.

Some universities offer degree flexibility. For example, Stirling University have over 220 single and combined courses to choose from.

The simple answer… NO. You do not have to study at a University in Scotland.

However, bear in mind that in Scotland, you do not have to pay tuition fees. Instead, you apply for government funding through SAAS to pay your fees and these are paid directly to the institution.

If you choose to go to a university outside Scotland, SAAS can give you a student loan to pay the tuition fees, but you will need to pay this back once you have graduated and are earning above a certain amount.


If you are applying through a school, your reference will be written for you by a teacher or tutor who knows you.

You won’t have access to this, so you won’t need to do anything for it, but you can request to read the reference.

If there are any extenuating or personal circumstances that you think are important, you can discuss including these in the reference with your referee.

If you don’t receive any offers – don’t panic! There are lots of options for you. If your goal is university study, remember you can start some courses at college, then move on to university. See our section on Articulation above.

If you don’t have any offers through UCAS, you can also use UCAS Extra and later in the year, UCAS Clearing. These are both ways for universities to fill up any places that they have left. You can search for available courses and apply for one at a time. This is also an option if you change your mind about what you want to do.

Finally, if you are unsuccessful this year, there is nothing to stop you applying again next year! If you choose to do this, it’s a good idea to keep in touch with a school teacher who will be happy to write a reference for you.

LIFT OFF Revision LIVE, April 2022 recordings

Contact Us

As much information as this resource contains, we know sometimes you have specific questions that you would like to ask. The LIFT OFF team are here to help and would love to hear from you! 

You can also arrange a meeting to chat with one of the LIFT OFF team. Meetings can be on the phone, in school, or online. Just use the contact form to arrange a meeting. 

Our fantastic student volunteers not only help out at events but they are also on hand to answer any questions you might have about life in Higher education.

Get in touch with one of the LIFT OFF Student Volunteers to ask your questions. 

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