Bedford College FAQs

These Frequently Asked Questions have been written by our Student Services team and are designed to help you whilst you start your life at the College. They are for Bedford College students in particular, if you are a Shuttleworth student, please read the Shuttleworth FAQs.

Applying to College

How do I apply for a College course?
You can apply online.  First, find the course you want to do on our website.  Before you apply, check you have the qualifications you need to do the course. You will be asked to create a username and password which will be emailed to you.  You can then apply.

Will I have to have an interview for my course?  What will it be like?
All full-time and some part-time courses require an interview.  This is nothing you need worry about – it is an opportunity for you and for us to make sure you are applying for the right course. We will check your qualifications, including asking you about any exams you are due to take, and find out from you why you want to come to College and do your chosen course.  We will also give you lots of useful information about the course, including what it might lead onto, and about the College in general.  It is important that you think carefully about your goals and interests, and about your reasons for choosing this course.  We would also advise you to think about the questions you might want to ask us!  You will probably have a one-to-one interview, but there may also be group information sessions.  For some courses you may be asked to take part in a practical task or audition – but don’t worry, your interview letter will tell you exactly what will happen.  Your College interview is your chance to make a positive impression, so please arrive on time, suitably prepared and dressed.

How will I know if I’ve chosen the right course?
Everyone who is coming to College to start a full-time course in September will be invited to a Welcome Day event prior to starting, which will give you a chance to meet students and teachers on your course, and find out more about the course and College.

Your admissions interview will also give you a chance to find out more about the course and you will be able to ask your interviewer lots of questions about it.

If you are still unsure, you can make an appointment with a College careers adviser to talk through your options to help you make the right course choice.  Contact the Student Services helpdesk on 01234 291934.

If you start your course but don’t feel it’s right for you, and not what you expected, talk to your Personal Achievement Tutor. Do this quickly, as you may not be able to change courses after the first few weeks of term. You can also ask for a careers interview, to help you make the right decision.

Starting College

When does my full-time College course start?
Please check the term dates page.  We will write to you beforehand to confirm the arrangements – where to go and what to bring with you. In the meantime if you have any queries please call Enquiries and Admissions on 01234 291000.

What is enrolment?
Enrolment is an important and compulsory part of becoming a registered student at the College. When you enrol onto your programme of study your qualifications will be checked and you will be issued with your College ID card. You will also sign a Learner Agreement – a sort of contract – and be issued with a parking permit if required. Enrolment takes place either just before or at the start of your course – we will contact you to tell you when you need to enrol and what you need to bring with you.

This will include:

  • proof of your qualifications
  • a relevant form of ID – as specified in your letter
  • money – cash, credit/debit card, or cheque
  • relevant forms of fee waiver evidence if applicable

What is induction?
During your first few weeks you will be welcomed to the College and introduced to your fellow students and the staff.  This is called induction and may include some or all of the following activities:

  • Introductory sessions with your Tutor - you will be given your course timetable and meet your fellow students
  • A welcome talk from the Principal
  • Campus tours and quizzes – finding your way around the College and getting to know other staff and students
  • IT induction – introducing you to our IT facilities and systems
  • Learning Resources Centre induction – introducing you to all the Learning Resources you will need for your course
  • Student Services induction – you will meet your Personal Achievement Tutor and find out about all the help on offer from Student Services. They will make sure you know how to access the careers and counselling services and how to join in with our programme of social activities, and also tell you about any financial support you may be eligible for.

Is there a Freshers’ Fair?
We always hold a Freshers’ Fair for students during induction week in September. This is a good opportunity for you to get some information, freebies and promotional offers from organisations in our local area, as well as finding out about what’s going on in College.

What do I need to bring with me on my first day?
We will write to you to tell you what you need to bring, but it will include the following as a minimum:

  • pen and paper
  • any other stationery, equipment or clothing specified in your letter.

Getting to College

How do I get to College? Does Bedford College have its own buses?
The College sites in Bedford do not have their own buses as they are well served by public transport and by road.

Our Gas & Plumbing and Vehicle Technology Centres at Kempston are easily accessible by a frequent bus service from the centre of Bedford.

Our rural site at the Shuttleworth campus is served by College buses, which transport students from a wide area depending on demand.

Students aged 16-18 (up to 25 with Special Educational Needs) who live more than 3 miles from College may be eligible for subsidised or free transport passes from their local authority.  The College can advise you what to do. If your local authority can't help, and your household income is £30,000 or less, you may qualify for our travel bursary.

All principal College sites have limited car parking spaces.

Do I have to pay to park at Bedford College once I have my parking permit?
At the Cauldwell Street site you will always have to Pay & Display. If you are a daytime student you also need to obtain a free parking permit when you enrol, to confirm your entitlement to park. You must make sure that both your parking permit and pay & display ticket are clearly visible.  If you do not, you may receive a parking fine. You may also receive a fine if you fail to park in a designated parking bay.

There are designated moped, motorcycle and bicycle areas at the Cauldwell Street site which are free! At other sites parking is currently free.

Money matters

Do I need to pay tuition fees?
If you are aged 16-18 then the majority of our courses are free for you to study, although you may have to buy course equipment such as a uniform or books.

If you are 19+ then there will be a fee for your course. You may be able to get a concession on your tuition fees. Check out our financial support section.

Can I get any financial assistance from Bedford College with my tuition fees?
If you are not eligible for a concession then you will be liable to pay for College fees. You may be eligible to apply to the Adult Support Fund for means-tested support towards the cost. If you are aged 19+, you may qualify for an Advanced Learner Loan.

An instalment plan is available for fees over £200, for both full and part time courses – please contact us for more information.

How do I pay for my course?
If you are doing a full-time course and are liable for any fees, they must be paid at enrolment. If you are doing a part-time course and are liable for any fees you may pay:

  • in person when you enrol
  • over the phone by credit/debit card
  • direct debit options available

Do I need to buy any kit or equipment for my course?
Some courses require you to have essential kit or equipment such as uniform, overalls, safety equipment, books or tools.  Your tutor will tell you all about this at your interview and/or we will confirm it in your induction letter.

What if I can’t afford to pay for the course essentials?
If you have a low household income, the College may be able to help by giving you a discount on essential course costs through one of our means-tested bursaries.  View more information on our financial support

Can I get any support with childcare costs?
If you are aged 16-19, you may be able to get help with Ofsted-registered childcare costs from Care to Learn. If you are aged 20 or over and in receipt of the Advanced Learner Loan there may be some help available through our bursaries. Otherwise the College is unfortunately unable to cover childcare costs.

Do I get a student discount when I shop in Bedford?
We have negotiated discounts for College students in a number of shops around Bedford – you just need to show your ID card.  Call into Student Services during induction week for a list of participating companies. Once you have enrolled you can also apply online for an NUS Extra card.

Student support

If I have a problem that is worrying me, who can I talk to?
Any student with worries or concerns can seek advice from their Personal Achievement Tutor or Student Services.  Most full-time students are assigned a professionally-trained Personal Achievement Tutor from Student Services, and you will meet them at the beginning of your course. If you have a personal issue, you can turn to your Personal Achievement Tutor for support. They may also be able to suggest other services that can help you further. 

Do you have a Counselling Service at College?
Yes, the service is free and open to all students.  Whatever you say to your counsellor will remain confidential, unless we believe that either you or someone else is at risk of harm.  Appointments are available throughout the week, and can be booked directly with a counsellor, by email or text, or via the Student Services helpdesk. 

What will the College do to support my general health and wellbeing?
Whether you want to stop smoking, get more exercise or eat more healthily, we can help! We take the safety and wellbeing of our students very seriously, and aim to create a safe and welcoming learning environment. If we have any concerns that one of our students is being harmed or bullied, we have procedures in place for dealing with the problem.

If I have a problem with my academic work, who can I talk to?
Your Personal Achievement Tutor and subject teachers will provide all the academic support you need to ensure you are able to complete your course successfully. You will meet with your tutor regularly to discuss any concerns and set targets to help you keep on track.

If I’m unhappy on my course what can I do?
Don’t leave it a long time to talk to someone about it.  Speak to you Personal Achievement Tutor as there maybe things that can be adjusted to make your time at Bedford College more enjoyable.  If it is near the beginning of the course, you may be able to change courses.

Learning resources

I’m never going to be able to afford all the books I need for my course!
Don’t worry – we have well-stocked Learning Resource Centres (LRCs) at our main campuses with friendly staff who will help you find all the information you need. You will have LRC and IT inductions at the start of your course to ensure that you know all about what’s on offer. Our generous borrowing entitlements will allow you to access all the information you need.

What facilities are available to help me study independently?
We let you borrow plenty of books, journals and DVDs. Almost all items can be renewed if you need them for longer, by giving us a quick ring, leaving us a voicemail or calling in with your ID card. You can also access computers with Microsoft Office and all the specialist programs you will need.

The LRCs are open early morning until early evening in term-time, and the Cauldwell Street campus LRC is open to all students during the holidays. We offer classroom sessions to help you develop your study skills, and also one-to-one or small group sessions on request.  We do not limit the time you can spend on our computers, and we provide scanner and printing facilities too. Bedford College has an excellent virtual learning environment – Moodle – with lots of information relevant to your course.

I prefer to study at home – how can you help?
We have a number of e-books and e-resources, which are accessible 24/7 over the internet and which have been chosen with your course in mind. E-resources mean that you are not dependent on getting all your information from the LRC during our opening hours. Of course, e-books can never get mislaid or accumulate fines, so they have several advantages over traditional formats! Books are still very important here though, so if you prefer not to sit at a computer for very long you will still have lots of resources to use.

The library is far too big to find anything in, so I won’t be able to cope…
No-one is born knowing about information retrieval, and we understand that it takes time to get used to such a large collection.  Learning Resources staff are happy to help you learn how to find information quickly and efficiently, a skill which will stand you in good stead throughout your time at College and beyond.

What happens if I lose my library book, or get lots of fines?
First of all, don’t panic!  Please keep us updated with your current mobile number and then we can send you a text reminder just before your books are due back. If things get tricky, ask to have a word, in private if you wish, with a senior member of staff and we can help you sort things out.  Alternatively, if you have a Personal Achievement Tutor, they will be happy to help.

Student life

What can I wear to College – is there a dress code?
Generally, students are free to wear whatever they like as long as it is not offensive to others. This means that you cannot wear anything too revealing, no offensive wording or logos and nothing that may conceal your identity (unless your religion requires this).  However, some courses will require you to wear specific clothing or uniform, or to follow a department dress code – you will be told about this at your interview.

Are there any rules at College?
We don’t have lots of rules and regulations.  We do however expect high standards of behaviour, including attendance and punctuality, and these are set out clearly in our student code of conduct.  As we are preparing you for your future employment we try to make our code of conduct as close as possible to what will find in the workplace.

We are a large College with students of many ages, nationalities and abilities, and it is important that we operate in an environment of tolerance and respect. We are committed to the core values of British society:  democracy, individual liberty, the rule of law, mutual respect and tolerance of other people’s religions and beliefs. We don’t accept any form of bullying, harassment or discrimination and have appropriate procedures in place.

Is there any accommodation at Bedford College?
Bedford College does not have any accommodation of its own. If you are looking for rental accommodation we recommend that you look at the property pages in the local papers or contact local estate agents.

Will I make friends at College?
There are opportunities for you to make friends before you even start your course!  You may meet our Schools Liaison team when they come along to your school.  They often take along some of our existing students – Student Ambassadors – who are always keen to talk about their experiences at College.

Before your course starts, once you have been offered a place, you will be invited to a one day Welcome Day event where you will meet your tutors and fellow students to experience a short taste of what your course will be like.

Once your course starts you will have an induction programme and your tutor will arrange classes and activities to help you get to know the other students in your tutor group.

What if I haven’t made any friends by this point?
Don’t worry – there are lots of other opportunities for you to meet people!

Enrichment – sign yourself up for some of the fun activities taking place throughout the year.  You can find out about the enrichment programme at our Freshers’ Fair.
Student Voice – if you would like to have your say on College life and help to improve things for your fellow students, come along to the monthly Student Voice meetings.
Student Ambassadors – this is mainly a voluntary position but there are may be opportunities to be paid for the time you give outside of normal Bedford College hours. You can help at internal and external events, including open days and careers fairs. More and more employers and universities are looking for the qualities, skills and experiences that make you stand out from the crowd and becoming a Student Ambassador will do just that. We will provide you with the training and support you need and you will receive a Student Participation Award in recognition of your involvement.
Student Common Room (Yourspace) – open Monday to Friday, giving students a chance to relax in their own environment. This is a great opportunity for you to make friends from different courses, as the common room is open to all and is centrally located on the Cauldwell Street site.

Are there any social activities?
You will have the chance to get involved in lots of social activities.  Some are linked to your course, such as trips and competitions, but we also have a varied ‘enrichment’ programme which gives you an opportunity to meet people from other parts of the College.  The programme varies each year and can include, for example, sports and outdoor activities or music and performing arts.  But we are committed to giving you the best experience possible – so if you have an idea or a suggestion for an event or activity, let Student Services know!

What can I do to get involved with the College?
At Bedford College there is a range of opportunities for you ‘make your voice count’.  You can:

  • join the Student Voice Group or Student Executive and help us improve the student experience
  • become a Student Ambassador and help out at open days or school visits
  • become a Student Governor
  • become a course representative and speak on behalf of your peers
  • give us feedback through focus groups and surveys

Moving on

Will I be able to progress at the end of my course?
If you are on track to pass your qualification, our ‘progression guarantee’ allows you to move up to a course at the next level.

If you’d like to change direction after you’ve completed your current course, you may be able to study a different course at the same or next level, depending on the subject. Your tutor, a College careers adviser or the Student Recruitment team could help you make the right choice, so ask for advice.

What about my next steps after College?
The careers team can help you make a great application with advice on interview skills and CVs. If your next destination is higher education at university or college, we can give you all the support you need, including applying through the UCAS system, finding out about courses and understanding student finance.