OIB University Advisers
The resources on this page are designed to help provide support and guidance for OIB University Advisers working in different contexts. At this stage, the information is focused on managing applications to UK universities.
Experienced OIB University Advisers may have a slightly different approach to the advice provided here; this guide is not meant to be definitive, but the guiding principles may allow us to develop coherence as ambassadors for the OIB.
As this website grows, we hope to add to this content to create an invaluable hub for university advisers working with OIB students.
The UCAS adviser’s website is the first place to turn to when getting started as an OIB University Adviser. They have a lot of resources to support teachers and students.
The first important step is to register as a centre. Then in the summer term, UCAS will send through instructions and a code to set up ‘Apply’ for the cohort of students who will be applying in the next cycle. You choose a ‘Buzzword’ that students enter as part of their application, and this allows their applications to be linked to your centre. This means that you can check your students’ applications, add your references and send them to UCAS.
UCAS ‘Track’ allows you to see the students’ offers as they come in, monitor their ‘Firm’ and ‘Insurance’ choices, and check that a place is confirmed once the results have been received.
If you have the opportunity, training can be extremely helpful. The UCAS training page details a number of conferences, but online training opportunities are also being developed which could be a good alternative.
Communication is key when it comes to managing university applications. This is particularly the case in our context where parents and students may not have an understanding of the higher education culture in the UK. Presentations to parents and students are a helpful way to begin supporting students. Below is a PowerPoint that could be adapted and developed to meet the needs of your community.
There are a number of useful resources to help advisers when supporting students in their choices.
Paid for resources
When supporting students with their UCAS applications, it can be helpful to have a step-by-step guide which is adapted for your school. This will avoid many students making the same errors on their forms, and will save you time in the long run. To produce such a guide, it is extremely useful to complete a ‘dummy’ application on UCAS each year. This will alert you to any changes and help you to pre-empt questions from pupils and their parents. The document below is an example student guide, and could be useful as an adaptable template.
UCAS: Personal Statements
UCAS has excellent resources to help students draft and write their personal statements. It may be useful to spend some lesson time going through these with students, particularly before they leave for the summer holidays at the end of Première.
The following sample references may be useful for University Advisers as part of their training. The opening paragraph of each reference could be used as a guide and adapted to provide contextual information about your school. These references are best read alongside the videos above which explore some of the key issues.
Universities have different policies when it comes to their English language requirements. For EU students, many will accept the British Option OIB as proof of language proficiency, with some universities making offers that ask for specific marks in English. Universities may also use marks in IGCSE English Language to meet their language requirements. Students who do not meet the thresholds for proficiency may sometimes meet this in another way, such as by taking IELTS. Students who are non-EU nationals, and require a Tier 4 Visa will have different requirements. They will need to provide proof of English proficiency with a SELT (Secure English Language Test), normally IELTS.
There are times when a university adviser may wish to query a language requirement on behalf of a student, particularly if a student with EU nationality is being asked for IELTS. Negotiating with universities can sometimes prove to be effective. The document below provides more information, and is a useful support for advisers when sent to admissions tutors as part of any dialogue.
Students who are considering making an application to Oxford or Cambridge universities can need more support. There are a number of extra features of an Oxbridge application and it is particularly helpful to begin preparation early.
For many courses, students will need to take a test as part of their application, before they attend an interview. Students need to be registered by an authorised test centre for these tests; they cannot register themselves. The tests are normally held at schools, but if this is not possible, students can take the tests at an ‘open’ test centre, often for an additional administrative fee. A school can register as a test centre by following the procedure outlined by the Admission Testing Service.
Specimen papers are available to support students’ preparation. These tests are designed to be challenging, and to help universities differentiate between applicants with a record of excellent academic attainment. It is helpful for students to practise any admissions tests while they are finalising their course choices.
For many courses, a student will need to send in written work as part of an application. Details of what written work will be required are available on the course page. In most cases, this written work will need to be in English. This can be challenging in our context, and it pays for students to check requirements early. This allows time to contact a college to ask for advice about an appropriate title, translate an essay written in French, or complete an additional piece of work set by a teacher.
Shortlisted candidates are usually interviewed in early to mid December. This involves travelling to the university and spending one or two nights in the college. Students may not receive an invitation to interview until a week before interviews take place.
There are some excellent resources from both Oxford and Cambridge about interview preparation, including videos which are very helpful. Many schools help their students by arranging a mock interview, either with a teacher, someone from the local community, or an alumnus who understands the Oxbridge interview style and has some of the relevant subject knowledge. Skype could be a tool with significant practical benefits when arranging mock interviews
Cambridge: SAQ and Transcripts
Cambridge has two additional steps to the application. The Supplementary Application Questionnaire is sent via email to applicants once their UCAS forms have been sent. They are told the deadline for the completion of the SAQ in this email. It is very helpful to look at the information about the SAQ in advance as there can be a number of different administrative steps to organise in a relatively short space of time.
The High School Transcript is a requirement for OIB students and uploaded as part of the SAQ. This is a translation of the student’s bulletins, normally from the end of Seconde and throughout Première. One way to manage this is to provide students with a covering letter to act as a translation which can be added to the .Pdf of their bulletins. The following example could be adapted for use with your students:
OIB results are not automatically sent to universities; it is up to the student, often supported by their school, to make sure that their results are sent through once they are received. Increasingly, universities are very specific in the administrative procedure that they require offer holders to follow. Students are likely to be given instructions which include a specific address to which results should be sent, or an online applicant portal where they can upload their results. However, in most cases, their relevé de notes will require translation. One way to support students is to supply them with a covering letter which is often acceptable to universities as a translation. Students will have a number of other administrative and academic requirements which they must check carefully.
It is inevitable that some students will not meet the conditions of their Firm choice institution when they receive their results. They may have met the conditions of their Insurance choice and be happy with this, or they may have another attractive higher education option in France or elsewhere. However, post-results negotiation with universities can prove to be successful.
- The plea for considering the case should be principally motivated by the student. They will need to make their case, normally by email, and be prepared to enter into a dialogue with the university to convince them to offer them a place. Their approach should be positive and focused on their motivation for the course.
- A supporting letter from the school sent along with the results can also be very helpful. A teacher can give the academic context for any unexpected results and highlight why the student would still make a strong undergraduate.
- It is likely that the university will not make a final decision until A Level results day which is towards the end of August.
- It is important to contact both universities: the Insurance institution may need to be sent a ‘holding’ letter along with the results while you await the outcome of the Firm negotiation. In some cases, students may be attempting to negotiate both Firm and Insurance places to give themselves the best chance of success.
- UCAS Clearing is an option if the negotiation is not successful.
- The final option would be to reapply the following year.
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