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General University Info

Information for Parents/Guardians

At Queen’s we appreciate that not every family is the same which is why our programmes and events in the widening participation unit is inclusive to all young people and their supporting adults, whether this is their parents, guardians, keyworkers, foster carers or other adult relatives. Planning on what to do once they leave school is a major decision for young people and the information below is to help you support them through this decision making process.

What are the options for young people when they finish secondary School?

  • University
  • Apprenticeships
  • College/Tech
  • Employment
  • Gap Year



Apprentices study while they are working in a paid role.  They involve on-the-job training as well as classroom-based teaching so that apprentices learn the skills they need to work in that chosen organisation.



Further education colleges are the main providers of vocation and technical education and training.  They offer higher education programmes ranging from GCSEs and A levels to BTECs, HNC’s, Foundation Degrees, Apprenticeships, Degrees and other specific training programmes.

The six colleges are:

CAFRE College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise offers specific courses on agri-food and land.  The three CAFRE campuses are:



Young people may wish to go straight into employment from higher education.  This could provide them with opportunities to build experience and develop their confidence.


Gap Year 

After secondary school, some young people decide to give themselves a year in order to travel, work or volunteer.  If they wish to go to University after their gap year, they should still apply in year 14 and then defer their start date for a year.

So why choose University?

Reasons for young people to continue to University after Secondary School are:

  • Better earning potential
  • Higher status jobs
  • Professional careers require a degree e.g. Lawyer, Doctor, Engineer
  • More career options (a majority of jobs require a Degree, but not in particular subjects)
  • The University experience helps build confidence and independence, particularly if they live away from home while attending.
  • Meet new friends and broaden their social circle
  • Opportunities for other activities i.e. travel, volunteering, clubs and societies
  • Learn from experts

How can you support your young person?

  • Make time for University visits and Open days
  • Help them research and think about their course choices and what grades they need to get into the University of choice
  • Know the application dates for UCAS (see below)
  • Offer to help or read over their personal statement
  • Talk to them about finances (see our finance guidance page)
  • Start encouraging independence i.e. cooking their own food, doing their laundry
Key dates for applying to University

Year 12

  • Have think about university courses and what qualifications (A-levels/BTECs) would be needed for that course 

Year 13


  • Start researching university Open Days, Summer Schools, Taster Days, etc. 
  • Apply for work experience 


  • Exam time - practice exams or AS exams, if done at the school or college 
  • Attend university Open Days, Summer schools etc.
  • Gain some work experience in the relevant area 

Year 14


  • Get settled into Year 14
  • Start drafting your personal statement and UCAS application 
  • Last few university Open Days 


  • Around the middle of October is the deadline on UCAS, for applying for Oxford and Cambridge
  • The middle of October is also the deadline on UCAS for most courses in Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and Dentistry


  • The middle of January is the deadline on UCAS for applying for most university courses. Up to 5 courses can be chosen


  • Attend offer holder days and/or interviews 
  • UCAS Extra opens in February 
  • Apply for Student Finance 
  • Review the responses from your chosen universities - you should hear back from all of your choices by the end of March


  • Interview Board results arrive at the beginning of July 
  • A-level/BTEC results are released in the middle of August 
  • Accept your offer 
  • Or use Adjustement or Clearing 
  • Start preparing to go to university! 


Click here for more information on UCAS