UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, processes applications for full-time undergraduate courses in the UK. If you want to go to university, you apply through this service. You fill in an application which UCAS then sends to the universities of your choice.
Filling Out the Form for Applications through a School/College
All applications are made through ‘Apply’ on the UCAS website.
1. Before you can start filling in your form you have to register with UCAS at www.ucas.com. To do this you have to work through certain questions.
2. You will be asked who you are registering through and you should click on ‘school or college’.
3. You will be asked for a buzzword.. Your school will provide you with this – and it must only be used by applicants from your school, as it links your application directly with your school.
4. You will be asked to make up a password. Make this something you are going to remember – you will probably be under enough pressure to get all your forms completed that forgetting your password will be more than a minor annoyance.
5. UCAS will generate a user name for you (usually based on your initials and surname, along with a number). This, too, is a crucial piece of information: don’t forget it.
6. You can now begin to fill in the form. You can go into your form as many times as you like and you can change things as much as you like. You should work through all the categories in the list on the left using the ‘help’ button if you need to.
For the vast majority of applicants, the residential category is A, and the fee code is 02 (if you were not born in the UK and are not sure what to put, there is a description of the fee codes on www.ucas.com. Consult your school for further information). You should select the name of your local education authority from the list in the box headed ‘Student support arrangements’. Your LEA is the council to whom your household’s council tax is paid.
When you are asked to put in your qualifications remember to put in • GCSEs and Double Award GCSEs. Enter the grades you achieved, the month in which the exams were taken (an inaccuracy of a month here isn’t terribly important, as long as the season and year is correct).
• GCE AS Levels. Only enter AS Levels if you have already cashed them in, or will not be taking the subject at A2. Entering module details is optional, but be aware that if you enter the details of one module, you must enter the details for all other modules for that subject. If you have already cashed in the AS level, you will need to enter the grade you received. If not, enter the grade as ‘Pending’, and specify when you will be cashing in the qualification.
• GCE A Levels. Enter here the subjects you will be taking to full A-level. In most cases, the cash-in date of these will be the summer of the year in which you intend to go to university. Again, entering module details is optional, with the same caveats that are mentioned above. All qualifications that have not yet been cashed in will have a grade ‘Pending’.
• Other exams. AEA, STEP, BMAT, LNAT etc, should also be declared – AEAs under ‘Advanced Extension Award’, and STEP (etc) under ‘Additional Admissions Tests’. You can also enter details of any other exams mentioned on the UCAS Tariff.
• Your personal statement can be no longer than 4000 characters (including spaces), or 47 lines (whichever is the shorter). Bear in mind that this is 4000 characters or 47 lines of UCAS’s formatting, not of size 12 Times New Roman, or whatever you’ve used to type it up in Word. Italics, underlining and bold type may not be used. The only way of testing whether your statement is of the right size is to paste it into the text box and click ‘Preview’ – it will alert you to the number of characters and/or lines you must cut from your statement if it is too long.
• Once you have completed all of your form, the ‘Pay/Send’ option will be available. For the 2008/09 round of admissions, the fee is £7 if you are applying to one university, or £17 if you are applying to more than one.
• At this point, ‘sending’ your application means sending it to your school/college, so that they may attach your reference, and your predicted grades. It is still very much possible to make amendments to your application – simply ask your referee to send your application back to you.
Application Process: Deadlines
- June onwards: applicants register online for UCAS.
- October 15: Deadline for Oxbridge, Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary Science/medicine applicants; applications must have reached UCAS
- January 15: Deadline for all other applicants; applications must have reached UCAS. Candidates can still apply at a later date, but are not guaranteed equal consideration.
- February 25: Applicants can apply through Extra.
- March 31: Date recommended to universities for sending out their offers/declinations to candidates applying before January 15. Universities can still reply after this date.
- May 8: Final deadline for universities to reply to candidates applying before January 15.
- June 30: Last date of receipt for applications for immediate consideration. Applications received after this date will be held for Clearing.
- ""July 18"": Deadline for universities sending out their offers/declinations to candidates applying before June 30.
- February 25 - July 6: Applicants who have used all five chocies and are not holding any offers may be eligible to apply to another university through UCAS Extra.
- August: Clearing starts.
A quick guide to contacting UCAS is here.
Notes on the Application Process
- You may apply either as an individual applicant, or through a school. The main difference is that if you apply as an individual applicant, you will have to input a reference into your form yourself, vis-a-vis a prescribed referee doing it for you should you apply through a school.
- On UCAS Apply, you will be able to create an account and save your form as many times as desired until you believe it's ready for submission (either to UCAS directly, or to your referee).
- You will be able to make 5 choices in your application form for most courses, unless you apply for Medicine, Dentistry or Vet. Science/medicine in which case you can only apply for 4 courses (and the remaining course can be anything, but usually something related like Biology or NatSci). You do not necessarily have to add all your choices at the same time, but you are advised to use up any remaining choices by the equal consideration deadline of 15 January. As a general principle using fewer than your allowance of five choices is sensible only if you are committed to specific unis for practical reasons, or your course is so specialised that there are few places that offer it.
- After you have submitted your application you hope be given offers, which may be unconditional (if you already meet their requirements) or conditional on you achieving certain grades in your upcoming A2 exams, and you will be told the grades you are expected to get when you get the offer.
- You must decide on which of the universities that has given you offers you want to go to after you have recieved your offers but before you have your exam results (see Important UCAS Dates For 2009 Entry). When you decide which of your offers you want to go to, you usually pick one firm choice, which you will go to if you get the required grades, and one insurance choice, which you will got to if you do not get the grades required by your firm choice (but you must still meet the grades required by your insurance choice). See more information on firm and insurance choices.
- Oxbridge: Another caveat to the application system is that you can either apply to Oxford or Cambridge, not both (unless you already have a degree or will have gained a degree before September of this application cycle). This is an internal agreement between the two universities which is enforced by UCAS. For most universities, you can apply for as many courses as you desire (although it is recommended you only apply for a maximum of 2-3 courses at any one university), except for Oxbridge where you may only apply for a single course. If you're applying to Oxbridge, your entire UCAS application has to be submitted to UCAS by 15 October (this includes both UK/EU and international applicants).
- For the rest of UK/EU applicants, the deadline is 15 January of the following year. Applications submitted before this deadline will be considered as "on time", and hence given equal consideration by all universities. You can still apply after this deadline, but universities do not have to consider your application. International applicants can apply any time until 30 June, although UCAS encourages all applicants to apply as soon as possible. You should also note that universities may begin to make offers as early as late October, so it is a wise idea to submit your application as soon as you can.
- If you're applying to certain art courses and have a strong portfolio of work, you may need to apply through "Route B". The deadline dates and number of choices you're allowed are different. This flowchart describes Route B in more detail.
Getting A Copy Of Your Application (including reference)
When you agree to the declaration on your application, you agree that we and the colleges and universities can process your information and keep a copy of your application to collect statistics and detect and prevent fraud. The Data Protection Act 1998 allows you to ask us for a copy of all the information we have about your application. We charge £10 for this service to cover administrative costs. If you would like a copy of the information, please write to us giving your full name, address and Personal ID number, and send us a cheque or postal order for £10, payable to UCAS.
UCAS Rosehill New Barn Lane Cheltenham Gloucestershire GL52 3LZ
A suggested content for the letter (suggested by the Information Commissioner's website and adapted for this specific purpose)
Your address Your UCAS Number The date
Dear Sir or Madam
Please send me the information which I am entitled to under the Section 7(1) of the Data Protection 1998.
I have enclosed a cheque for £10 as requested by your website and I believe this letter contains the information needed.
If you do not normally handle these requests for your organisation, please pass this letter to your Data Protection Officer or another appropriate official.
Your Full Name