Support for postgraduate offer holders

Getting an email to say you have been successful is an amazing achievement! Congratulations! Now the important work begins as you prepare for a new life at university as a masters student. This short guide will explain the kinds of support and events available for postgraduate offer holders.

What is a postgraduate offer?

Full time masters degree courses are around one year in duration, and most of them start in October. Universities invite applicants to apply for the following year’s masters degree courses around the middle of the current autumn semester.

They will accept applications up to the following spring (or later), and they will make offers to study to candidates throughout this period. Many universities will have places on courses still available in the summer, but it is sensible to apply early particularly as most scholarships schemes have spring/early summer application deadlines.  

If a student has supplied all the relevant details, academic reference and exam results (including a deposit where requested), then the university admissions team will check their application and issue an offer to study. This could be conditional on the student successfully completing additional checks if required.

The admissions team at the university will support the student in all the stages of their application, particularly if the student is overseas.

If the student is successful and they receive an offer to study, then the support will continue from the same team as the student prepares to enrol onto the course.

Support for postgraduate offer holders

UK universities offer a number of services to postgraduate degree offer holders. If the student has recently completed their undergraduate degree then information regarding teaching methods and  campus facilities might not be needed.

However, if the student is from outside the UK then this could be the first time the student has travelled outside their home country and there is a lot of detail that could be new to the student.

All university admissions in the UK are done online. If a candidate has already completed all the relevant forms then they will be used to the system of uploading important documents and logging in to their application portal to check on their application status.

They will receive regular email communications from the university, and the admissions team will direct them to a number of information sources and online video tutorials.

Differences in teaching styles

One of the biggest changes that international students face when they come to study in the UK is the difference in teaching styles. Many undergraduate students will be used to a traditional teaching method. This is a fixed curriculum of core texts taught by academic staff in lecture format.

In the UK the approach to teaching is varied. Masters students are encouraged to discuss and analyse teaching material and work in groups to complete assignments. UK universities will provide additional teaching workshops to masters offer holders. These will be in the form of training courses or taster lectures delivered online. It is not unusual to be expected to participate in these – universities promote these events with information such as: -

‘On this course, you’ll explore how our learning community works and how you’ll soon develop into an independent critical thinker. You’ll find out how courses and assessments are designed and how you’ll be supported to progress and succeed in your studies and future career’.

Sometimes masters offer holders will need to complete these sessions as a condition of their place on the course.

International Student Life/ Welcome sessions

These sessions will follow the same pattern as the presentations you probably attended when you were choosing your course or consulting with academic contacts at the university. They are important because its easy to overlook details regarding the different ways you will be studying and interacting with other students.

The UK is a very safe country to study and work in, but the pace of life and the differences between how people interact may be very different to what the student is used to. Information about accommodation, food, travel and utilities are important to understand, and these sessions provide a great introduction to the differences the student will experience.

Step by step webinars

Support for postgraduate offer holders often includes step by step webinars. These are split between UK and international applicants.

It is very common to be invited to attend these activities and they are scheduled to take account of local time zones.

Often these webinars are presented by members of the international recruitment team and by alumni from the university who are overseas nationals. It makes a big difference to hear and share the experiences of a student from your country who has already been through the process of joining the university.

The webinars will touch on important details regarding study visas and travel arrangements. Sometimes this information is shared online on the university website, so take time to find the correct information on the site before you start to panic or worry unnecessarily.

English Language Courses

It will be a requirement of your offer that you achieve an acceptable standard of written and spoken English to study a masters at a UK university. The admissions team will offer you lots of support with your application details, but at the end of the day you have to be confident in your skills when you are completing your degree.

Universities that have specific standards for English will offer students additional training courses. Before Covid, universities encouraged overseas students to travel to the UK to start this extra tuition before their course began. This meant that the study visa arrangements to into account an additional period of study usually during the summer.

Since the pandemic this has all moved online, which can be a great benefit for international students because they won’t need to prepare to travel and find accommodation in the UK earlier than they had planned.

Checklists/Pre-Departure Checks

If you were planning a big overseas trip you would need to make lots of preparations to ensure you are safe to fly. The same details apply when a student is considering studying in a foreign country.

Universities will help to break down the key details and deadlines for masters offer holders so that they have completed all the relevant paperwork and made the correct arrangements.

Living, eating, spending and travel

The first big steps of getting the offer from the university are just the beginning of the student’s academic journey. Most international students will have been used to study within their region, and some will have been living at home.

This will change completely for the postgraduate offer holder, so universities will support international masters students to find appropriate accommodation, and also encourage groups of students to share together.

This means they can benefit from the resources available on campus or off-site when it comes to preparing meals, eating out, and budgeting for travel and entertainment.

Buddy services

Universities encourage international students to buddy-up with other offer holders so that they can build up their connections and friendship links in advance of their degree course. You will be encouraged to join a get-together to meet with other international students and play games and quizzes. Some universities organise offer holder lunches.

Universities will share useful apps that offer holders can download and use. These include advice services to stay up to date with your timetable, coursework, fitness, and more!

Check your calendar for updates

UK universities will go out of their way to welcome you to study with them, whether that is for a taught masters degree on campus or an online programme. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice and help if you are concerned about how to prepare for your masters degree.

There is lots of guidance and support available to postgraduate offer holders including how to defer it. Make the most of the sources of information that they provide and count down the days on your planner until you are ready to take up your place!