Monthly Archives: December 2014

When do UK universities and colleges have holidays?

This week’s blogpost is in reply to a student who has asked about holidays at UK universities.

UK universities and colleges traditionally have a break three times during the academic year. As many international students are now discovering, one of these breaks is just about to start or may have already started at your institution. For students, the December / January break is often 3 to 4 weeks in length. It takes place when two key festivals occur in the UK – Christmas and New Year. Its exact start date and the date when you are due back to resume studies will vary from one institution to another so it’s important to check this if you plan to go off travelling for the period. If you are not travelling and intend to carry on with independent study during this period, you will need to check when any key buildings such as the library and computer workstations might be closed. They may be open for restricted hours during the vacation period but most will certainly be closed for a few key festival days. Teaching and administrative staff are generally still around and in their offices for a few days after most students have left for the vacation.

There is also a holiday in March / April. This falls around the time of Easter and varies slightly from one year to another. The summer holiday is the third and longest one although for many postgraduate students there are still dissertations to be written or PhD research work to be done during this period.

There are also a range of so-called Bank Holidays in the UK. These are one-day holidays which occur on a Monday so extend the weekend. If you would like to know when these occur in 2015, look on the official UK Government website.

Regarding public transport during vacation periods, if there is a local bus service which is run specifically for students attending your institution, you may find that once a vacation period begins, a new timetable applies. National public transport (long distance coach services and train services) do not operate on Christmas Day (25th December) and have restricted services on other feast days and/or bank holidays.

The Prepare for Success team would like to take this opportunity to wish you a very happy Christmas break and a peaceful new year!

If you have a question related to academic life and study in the UK and you can’t find the answer in the Prepare for Success learning resources, write it on the Question Wall and we will try to answer it here in the blog next time.

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EAP online materials for independent learning

Pay, Access and LearnThis week’s blogpost is in reply to a student who has asked where to find online materials in English for Academic Purposes (EAP) for self-study.

Some useful EAP learning materials that are available for learners to use independently have been mentioned in previous blogposts. Many of these are free. See:
Managing the reading on your course
Where can I find more activities to practise academic writing?
How to improve my vocabulary?

A new online resource that has recently become available for students is the PAL (Pay, Access and Learn) portal. This site allows individual learners to choose and then license sets of interactive online learning resources at low cost and for periods of either one month or three months. Each set of ten learning resources on a related topic provides at least six hours of activity-based online learning. Currently sets available include basic and more advanced skills in academic writing and vocabulary for study purposes. The website provides a complete list of available sets. Online renewal or licence extension is easy and can be done at any time from anywhere.

These will be of interest to learners already studying EAP (English for Academic Purposes) or preparing to apply for university courses in the UK.

If you have a question related to academic life and study in the UK and you can’t find the answer in the Prepare for Success learning resources, write it on the Question Wall and we will try to answer it here in the blog next time.

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