Anyone in NI here struggling/feeling left out?

(61 Posts)
narkedinNI Tue 10-Sep-19 18:16:25

Name changed for this as I don't want to out my location on other threads.

DD is Year 13 in a grammar school here (NI). We are a FSM family as I am a FT carer for my other dc with complex disabilities. The school have strongly but subtly recommended that the pupils should not go to either UU or QUB, something to do with entry requirements being over inflated because places are capped here but not in the rest of the UK.

DD's friends seem to be quite wealthy and have booked open days in the coming months for several universities in England and Scotland. I've just checked for Durham and due to flight times dd would have to stay 2 nights to get one full day in Durham. It's going to cost about £350 just for her. If she puts down 3 non NI choices that (in theory) would be up to £1k just to visit each one for the day. The same goes for taster days/residentials. Durham offer a travel bursary of up to £100 but there is still the other £200. None of the other unis she is thinking of offer travel bursaries. Wider participation all talks about pupils from England.

Obviously that is life, not everyone can afford it but I just feel that DD is hugely disadvantaged by our circumstances. Is anyone else in the same boat? Is it wise to apply to somewhere that you haven't visited?
Just having a moan really, any advice appreciated.

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ProfessorLayton1 Tue 10-Sep-19 18:19:32

NakedinNI- I am sure others reply.
Not everyone can afford to visit all the open days.
Dd applied to medicine and she did not visit three out of 5 universities she applied.
She can get most of the information needed online... talk to any friends etc., you have gone to the university she is interested in ...

PierreBezukov Tue 10-Sep-19 18:22:01

The school have strongly but subtly recommended that the pupils should not go to either UU or QUB

This is rather astonishing. I think you need to probe the school a bit more here.

narkedinNI Tue 10-Sep-19 18:31:09

you have gone to the university she is interested in ...

We haven't been to any, that's the point. We will obviously be able to go to QUB, but it would be nice for her to be able to see one of the mainland UK universities.

Pierre I was horrified by this, to me it is a kick in the teeth to those who cannot afford to go away. The careers teacher said basically because of the cap that you aren't getting the same value for money in NI that you are in the rest of the UK. I've no idea if that is true or not, but it certainly put it into dd that she should be going away. She intends to apply for dentistry (which is QUB only) and apparently 60+% of applicants who meet the grade requirements get rejected because of competition. She obviously then has to apply to 3 other non NI universities.

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InvisibleWomenMustBeRead Tue 10-Sep-19 18:34:05

I went to uni in Scotland (I'm from NI) without visiting first as we couldn't afford to & hated it. It was a campus university & so remote & just not for me at all.

In the end, I dropped out after 1 term & started at Queens the following year. (Had to wait for the new academic year as I'd missed too much to just carry on at Queens).

Therefore I'd say try to visit first if you can, although fully appreciate how expensive it is. I live in the West Midlands now & your DD would be welcome to stay at my house for a night or 2 if she was visiting any of the Birmingham unis. (I fully appreciate that I'm a total stranger off the internet, so probably sound like a complete weirdo, but I do know exactly how you're feeling so the offer is genuine).

narkedinNI Tue 10-Sep-19 18:43:33

Invisible thank you so much for the offer flowers My fear is exactly as you say, it would be awful for her to go somewhere to discover that she hated it. I think she would still have to pay that year's fees?

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proudredhead Tue 10-Sep-19 18:53:12

It would usually depend at which stage of the year she withdrew, OP with regards to fees. If early enough she'd be entitled to a partial refund.

For what it's worth I have experience of QUB as a student (UG and PG) and an employee, and in many ways it's a good university.


ProfessorLayton1 Tue 10-Sep-19 18:57:48

NakedinNI- we are in the UK and not NI. I am not sure what I was thinking when I replied. Apologies if I had unwittingly upset you ...💐

InvisibleWomenMustBeRead Tue 10-Sep-19 19:01:19

Mine was pre-fees & I even got a grant! (I'm 42 - think I was one of the last years to get a grant).

FWIW, I had an absolute ball at Queens, absolutely loved it, so I'd press the school to understand what they mean & figure out her true options as it's a great university.

readsalotgirl63 Tue 10-Sep-19 19:05:22

We did visit for Open Days and it is expensive- and I'm not convinced is entirely necessary. I suspect it is a recent "thing" - when I went to uni ( hundreds of years ago) I didn't visit anywhere and stayed at home to go to the local univeristy. I did go away for postgrad to somewhere I'd never been before and whihc was a couple of hundred miles away.

As ProfessorLayton has said not everyone is able to visit on Open Days for reasons of cost and distance.

We visited again for Offer holder days and these were much more useful in terms of making decisions so perhaps that would be an option ?

narkedinNI Tue 10-Sep-19 19:05:51

Thanks redhead that's reassuring. From what we were told in the info evening it is very hard to get into dentistry there, there are only 32 places therefore you will need much higher than the 3 A's they state. They don't offer contextual offers either and the (very limited) wider participation scheme they offer does not cover medicine/dentistry.

Don't want this thread to be all doom and gloom btw, would love to hear from those of you who are going to open days and how much it is costing.

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Hechan Tue 10-Sep-19 19:09:05

How do the school calculate it's less value for money when it's literally half the fees of going to England/Wales? My daughter is at QUB and loves it FWIW.

narkedinNI Tue 10-Sep-19 19:16:33

Professor you didn't upset me at all flowers

readsalot I too think it must be a new thing. I'm the same age and I don't recall anyone going to open days. I'm sure they did but in school (and I went to a well known grammar)they certainly did not insist we went to all of our choices. I realised too that the difference now is the emphasis on the 'experience;' one of the questionnaires dd got to narrow down her choices was 'Are you pub or club?' Durham has 9 pubs per club apparently hmm. I remember in lower sixth there was more a focus on the education.

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HugoSpritz Tue 10-Sep-19 19:17:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

stucknoue Tue 10-Sep-19 19:19:28

Dd didn't visit ahead of starting. Visiting your local university is useful because they can get a feel for what a university is like but to be honest one lecture hall is like another, one halls is like another - the course information is online and you can always call the university she is interested with questions. Once she has offers the have more open days and some had excellent bursaries and free overnight accommodation

narkedinNI Tue 10-Sep-19 19:19:39

Hechan I've no idea, but it was mentioned that QUB is fairly near the bottom of the RG rankings, but has admission criteria close to those at the top.

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wigglybeezer Tue 10-Sep-19 19:26:40

We have the capped places = inflated grade requirements problem in Scotland too so I can see what the school are getting at, we have more unis though so most kids get a place somewhere. Has she been on The Student Room forum? She can ask specific questions about courses and student life in different places there and even ask for experiences of other NI students.

ZandathePanda Tue 10-Sep-19 19:41:01

We did two universities (Newcastle and York) over a weekend. They had their open days on the same weekend as Durham. It was tough going because Dd wanted to look at 2 different departments in both.
Newcastle and Durham are obviously very close and have good flight links to N Ireland. York is on the same train line so 3 in 3 days would be doable if you can get bursaries. If you can narrow it down as much as possible and get open days dates close to one another - if not phone up the university and explain your predicament and perhaps they can allow her to visit the department on a non-open day. I know a friend who did that.
Also many friends of Dd haven’t been to the places they were applying to.
Tbh the things that Dd didn’t think she would like were still the things she didn’t like (campus uni outside a city) after visiting, so Warwick was a bit of a waste of time for us. There weren’t too many surprises.

Decorhate Tue 10-Sep-19 19:48:45

I don’t know if Dentistry is similar to Medicine in that it doesn’t really matter where you do your degree? Has your dd considered a Dublin uni? Much easier in terms of travel. I appreciate that it may be even more competitive to get into a Dentistry course there though.

secretsciurusvulgaris Tue 10-Sep-19 19:51:16

Has she considered Trinity/ UCD etc?

proudredhead Tue 10-Sep-19 20:17:23

The open days are a recent phenomena, largely due to the huge competition between unis now. It's true that NI unis suffer from grade inflation due to the capping of 'home' student numbers, and that Queen's isn't a top RG university. It is a very decent university however and has hugely invested in infrastructure in recent years so that students have excellent facilities - libraries, halls etc. I'm not sure how competitive Dentistry is, however.

narkedinNI Tue 10-Sep-19 20:21:20

AFAIK Trinity is the only Dublin option for dentistry and it is even more competitive than QUB. Oddly the school haven't really even mentioned the Irish unis as an option.
Decor I imagine they are all a much of a muchness really, the English ones she's interested in all offer contextual offers which would obviously increase her chances. I have heavily researched open days even made a spreadsheet but sadly none of them are close together so that we could combine them. I have contacted four, two said she could visit outside of open days but it would be a self guides tour only, she wouldn't be able to view accommodation or speak to faculty members.

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KeepOnDancing Tue 10-Sep-19 20:25:45

I'm not from NI but I always heard QUB is a very reputable University. I understand why you feel guilty but if your DD is interested in studying in QUB, let her suss it out. She may not need or want to attend the other colleges.

ILikTheBred Tue 10-Sep-19 20:28:11

It’s odd that the school hasn’t mentioned Trinity. That being said, I’m not sure I’d take the risk of having to pay non-EU fees until there’s a bit more clarity around brexit.

Janleverton Tue 10-Sep-19 20:33:02

Just from my experience - I applied to universities without having visited one of them. Including Glasgow (applied from London).

Had interviews at York, UEA and another (can’t remember) but ended up just being given an offer for Glasgow (for the course I wanted above all the others). Met the offer and the first time I visited was the first day of freshers week!

I loved it there. There was enough information even then (pre social media) to make an informed decision really, and enough potential flex in the Scottish degree set up to meet any potential disasters.

So what I’m saying is that visiting isn’t necessarily the be-all and end-all. I totally get that with fees though people now feel like they’re making more of an investment than in my day. But still. Does your dc have any friends at or just gone to universities in Scotland/England who could give them the low down at Christmas (schoolmates from an older year maybe)?

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