UCAS – The applications process explained

If you are looking to get onto a course at pretty much any British University, the chances are that you are going to have to go through UCAS. Though there are some higher educations services who are not affiliated with UCAS (which stands for Universities and Colleges Admissions Service), anyone wishing to gain entry to an undergraduate course must go through the company, regardless of whether you are based in the UK or abroad. The Application Applicants are expected to apply through a form on the UCAS website, detailing the five courses for which they intend to apply, with the university of choice for each. During the process, all of these choices are strictly confidential. Later, these must be narrowed down to first choice, second choice and back-up – usually around the start of January. Personal Statement One of the key parts of any UCAS application – alongside your past academic performance and expected grades – is the personal statement. Giving each student the chance to showcase their hobbies, personalities and what drives them, it, in turn, give those at the university a glimpse into the student they may be recruiting. However, sometimes the importance of the personal statement is overstated – good grades will always make up for a poor personal statement, but the reverse isn’t necessarily true. Costs and Fees In recent years, the cost of applying via UCAs has gone up – though this isn’t as extortionate as many make it out to be. Given the amount of resources, and the quality of service provided by UCAS to students, the most recent costs of £12 for...

Tesco – Value, delivered around the world

Despite having their headquarters in humble Cheshunt, Tesco are far more than a provincial retailer. Though they do have an image among the public as being a cosy, part-of-the-family brand – though perhaps not as much as rivals Morrisons and Sainsbury’s – the company that started small is now the second largest retailer in the world when measured by profits (only sitting behind Walmart) or third if you go off revenues (with Carrefour just ahead). Find the Tesco customer service number here Despite the huge amount of revenue, Tesco only operates in 12 countries worldwide, and is only market leader in 4 of those – the UK, Republic of Ireland, Malaysia, and Thailand. In 2013, they had revenues of £64 billion – something made all the more incredible when you consider how the company specialise in low-price, budget groceries. Humble Origins Starting out when Polish Jewish immigrant Jack Cohen started selling surplus groceries at Well Street Market in Hackney, the name came about after Cohen bough some tea from Thomas Edward Stockwell (TES) and added the first two letters of his name (CO), and from there, the rise was meteoric. The selling of excess at a time of war has lead to some claims that Tesco originally started out as a black market stall from detractors. The first Tesco store was opened in 1929 in Edgware, and from there the company grew to the point where they first floated on the stock market shortly after the second world war in 1947. Diversification Originally starting out by selling just groceries, Tesco has followed the market trend of branching out into...

Hotmail – the rise, fall and move to Outlook.com

Once one of the most popular e-mail services on the web, Hotmail – officially at least – no longer exists. Still perhaps the most widely recognised platform for sending and receiving mails online, Microsoft have tried to centralise their operations, leading to the fall of one of the first great portals of the web. Launch and Rise At a time when it was still quite common for companies to charge for users to have an e-mail addresses, Hotmail was founded in 1996 by Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith as a free service for all clients. Their main competitor at the time was RocketMail – the forerunner to Yahoo! Mail, still a competitor today). The name, bizarrely, was chosen as Hotmail could be condensed to HTML (and was originally stylised at HoTMaiL), and the company launched with a 2mb limit on users inboxes – a relatively huge amount considered that dial-up internet connection speeds meant that the sending of images or other large files was prohibitive. Sale to Microsoft and the creation of MSN Hotmail Having amassed a reported 8.5million subscribers from across the globe, interest in the webmail company quickly started to build, and the business was sold to Microsoft in December 1997 for a reported $400 million. This was one of the first moves the Bill Gates founded company have made to subsume businesses in industries that they have looked to go into – preferring to purchase an already successful company rather than start their own competitor for scratch. Reasons for success Part of the reason behind the success of the company was their localised versions of the...

Currys – the Evolution of an Electronics Giant

Opened in 1884 by Henry Curry when he started constructing bicycles in a shed at the back of his garden, Currys has since involved into one of the most prominent electronics retailers in the UK. Dixons takeover Perhaps the key moment in the history of the Currys brand was its takeover by the Dixons group in 1984. Despite sharing very similar parts of the marketplace – both specialise in whitegoods, telecommunications and computer technology – the decision was made to keep two very seperate brand identities. However, it did see a change in direction for the Currys company, with less of a focus on the large, out-of-town centres that had previously made up most of it’s business, and moving the brand into the high street. Currys has retained a key focus on four main departments – computers, home entertainment, large domestic appliances (such as washing machines) and small domestic appliances (such as toasters) – and their stores and generally split into clearly-marked sections as such. Their aim is to provide affordable quality for the consumer – giving access to great technology, without necessarily having the break the bank. Though the do appeal to customers on a budget, that is far from their main focus – giving a broad range of brands and prices for all price brackets. Internet Shopping As the UK became more technology savvy, the Dixons group as a whole has suffered. As well as what were traditionally simply food retailers like Tesco and Sainsbury’s moving into the electronic market (often dealing with similar goods to Currys but mainly at cheaper prices), they have also had to...

Groupon – the growth of the Group Coupon

Started as a means for which a local pizza restaurant could offer deals to customers, Groupon quickly outgrew its Chicago roots. Founded by Andrew Mason, a Pittsburgh boy who has since been moved on from his position as CEO, the company was at one time predicted to be the quickest business ever to reach $1 billion in sales – something which quickly proved to be premature. However, their group sales and discounts have been popular across the global, with their deal of the day becoming a fixture of many people’s email inbox. Find the GroupOn customer service number here Group Coupon: The concept The name comes from a portmanteau of the words Group and Coupon, which offer as a simple glimpse at the business model of the company. Offering heavy discounts for services through their localised websites, each discount requires that a certain number of people take up the offer – if they don’t, then the deal isn’t valid. Groupon make money through keeping a percentage of the money from such a deal – generally believed to be around half. So, for every £10 spent on Groupon, the vendor offering the service gets £5, and Groupon themselves keep £5. Companies are still willing to ensure such heavy hits on their usual margins due to the amount of publicity that Groupon can provide – with only one deal offered a day through their website, it gives a relatively cheap opportunity for small businesses to bring in new custom. Groupon’s competitors Naturally, the success of Groupon has lead to a raft of competitors offering similar deal of the day services. Though...