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    Hello,

    I'm an international student applying to multiple UK institutions (Edinburgh, Southampton, Manchester) and have questions regarding the reference letters.

    Some universities have reference requests forms which ask the referee to include the school applied to in the letter and sometimes even the application ID. Since I'm applying to multiple institutions, I'd have to ask my referees to provide individual reference letters for each universities I'm applying to. Is this how it usually works or is it acceptable if I ask my referees to just leave the university-specific information off and return it back to me so that I can scan it and upload it to the application form?

    Thanks in advance
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    Most of the schools I have applied to will accept the scanned recommendation letter but will require the original to be sent after the fact if you receive an offer so it might be best to go ahead and have them do each section individually.

    What I have done is taken the reference pdf file and filled in as much of my information as I can and then forwarded the modified form to my writers so that they can fill out their portion and either email it in (St. Andrews) or print it out and send it in via a sealed envelop (Leeds). The programs with online portals generally autofill that information for them so they basically only have to copy and paste their letter with minor modifications.

    For context: I'm a student in the U.S. applying to several schools as well.
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    When I applied for my Masters, the university (I only applied to one) emailed each referee and the referee had to provide their reference directly to them, via email. It depends on how each university's application system works. Applying for postgraduate courses is much less standardised than the undergraduate process.
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    (Original post by flala)
    Hello,

    I'm an international student applying to multiple UK institutions (Edinburgh, Southampton, Manchester) and have questions regarding the reference letters.

    Some universities have reference requests forms which ask the referee to include the school applied to in the letter and sometimes even the application ID. Since I'm applying to multiple institutions, I'd have to ask my referees to provide individual reference letters for each universities I'm applying to. Is this how it usually works or is it acceptable if I ask my referees to just leave the university-specific information off and return it back to me so that I can scan it and upload it to the application form?

    Thanks in advance
    I always thought it was fairly standard that referees wrote individual letters for each application. The actual amount that they have to modify from letter to letter is usually very small once the letter is first written, they just change the names of whatever university & course you're applying to, and maybe tinker with some of the minor details to tailor it to the specific programme. Once the first reference is written for you the time taken to amend it for each subsequent application is usually small. So I don't think your referees would have any major problems with this.

    Depending on how the reference form is structured, I don't know whether a lot of academics would like you seeing what they've written (even if it is just to add your application number or whatnot) since references are meant to be confidential. That's usually why a lot of universities now have portals where references can be uploaded by the academics themselves, or why they ask for them in sealed, signed-across-the-seal envelopes.
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    (Original post by flala)
    Hello,

    I'm an international student applying to multiple UK institutions (Edinburgh, Southampton, Manchester) and have questions regarding the reference letters.

    Some universities have reference requests forms which ask the referee to include the school applied to in the letter and sometimes even the application ID. Since I'm applying to multiple institutions, I'd have to ask my referees to provide individual reference letters for each universities I'm applying to. Is this how it usually works or is it acceptable if I ask my referees to just leave the university-specific information off and return it back to me so that I can scan it and upload it to the application form?

    Thanks in advance
    In the UK it is not usual for the subject of a reference to have any part in the handling or transmission of that reference, save in very signed and sealed circumstances. Most places will expect a fresh reference for each application from the referee.
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    Thanks for your answers.

    The universities in question all offer the ability to email my referees on my behalf allowing them to upload it. I was just thinking it might be less time-consuming for my referees if they gave me a signed letter so that I can upload them (I'll apply for the same degree at all universities). I have not found any standardized form, so I will ask my referees to use letterheaded paper and just modify the addressee for each institution I'm applying to.

    As far as confidentiality is concerned, I'm pretty sure my referees don't mind me reading their letters.
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    As far as confidentiality is concerned, I'm pretty sure my referees don't mind me reading their letters.
    Sadly it's not a matter of your referees minding. The university has to be as confident as possible that you have not been directly involved in writing the reference during the process. There needs to be no opportunity for you to alter or falsify your references. Whilst this seems harsh, it has happened in the past and universities need to protect themselves from unscrupulous students.

    I doubt there's anything to prevent your referees providing you with a copy of their reference after they have supplied it to the university. However, in that situation I would make sure that I didn't mention the reference content at any interview. You will not be expected to know the content of your reference and to draw attention to the fact that you do, might arouse undue suspicion as to its veracity.

    This confidentiality between referee and potential university carries over into the workplace. In the UK, it is uncommon for a job applicant to ever see their references. I've thus far had five permanent jobs in my working life and have never seen any of my references.
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    (Original post by Klix88)
    Sadly it's not a matter of your referees minding. The university has to be as confident as possible that you have not been directly involved in writing the reference during the process. There needs to be no opportunity for you to alter or falsify your references. Whilst this seems harsh, it has happened in the past and universities need to protect themselves from unscrupulous students.

    I doubt there's anything to prevent your referees providing you with a copy of their reference after they have supplied it to the university. However, in that situation I would make sure that I didn't mention the reference content at any interview. You will not be expected to know the content of your reference and to draw attention to the fact that you do, might arouse undue suspicion as to its veracity.

    This confidentiality between referee and potential university carries over into the workplace. In the UK, it is uncommon for a job applicant to ever see their references. I've thus far had five permanent jobs in my working life and have never seen any of my references.
    This does make sense in some way. However, on Manchester's Referee Report Form, they even state that the referee should return the form and the reference to the applicant to submit with his/her application.
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    That's a good example of each university having their own process then. It's a pretty unusual way of doing it, but I guess it's nice to know what's being said about you. It gives you the chance to address any potential weaknesses or build on strengths mentioned by your referee, in your application.

    My experience with Southampton at PG was that they dealt direct with the referees and I wasn't involved. However, this may even vary between faculties.
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    (Original post by flala)
    Thanks for your answers.

    The universities in question all offer the ability to email my referees on my behalf allowing them to upload it. I was just thinking it might be less time-consuming for my referees if they gave me a signed letter so that I can upload them (I'll apply for the same degree at all universities). I have not found any standardized form, so I will ask my referees to use letterheaded paper and just modify the addressee for each institution I'm applying to.

    As far as confidentiality is concerned, I'm pretty sure my referees don't mind me reading their letters.
    Hey what do you mean by uploading the reference. I mean, don't they need to type it directly in some space? Or is it required to scan and upload the letter?
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    (Original post by trisha.b)
    Hey what do you mean by uploading the reference. I mean, don't they need to type it directly in some space? Or is it required to scan and upload the letter?
    Hi trisha. I haven't seen any postgraduate application form which requires the references to be typed in electronically. I really meant scanning (signed) reference letters and uploading them in the application form myself.
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    (Original post by flala)
    Hi trisha. I haven't seen any postgraduate application form which requires the references to be typed in electronically. I really meant scanning (signed) reference letters and uploading them in the application form myself.
    I know you mentioned Manchester earlier, but 99% of universities, as Klix mentioned, don't involve the subject of the reference in the process, for obvious reasons. I've also just noticed that on Manchester's reference form, there exists the option for academics to email their reference directly to the academic department concerned, which I would imagine most referees would prefer as it means the student doesn't get to see the reference.

    Also, despite what you seem to think, it's usually much less hassle for the referees to upload or send their references themselves wherever possible, rather than having to involve another person.
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    (Original post by flala)
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    Hello,

    I'm an international student applying to multiple UK institutions (Edinburgh, Southampton, Manchester) and have questions regarding the reference letters.

    Some universities have reference requests forms which ask the referee to include the school applied to in the letter and sometimes even the application ID. Since I'm applying to multiple institutions, I'd have to ask my referees to provide individual reference letters for each universities I'm applying to. Is this how it usually works or is it acceptable if I ask my referees to just leave the university-specific information off and return it back to me so that I can scan it and upload it to the application form?

    Thanks in advance
    (Original post by gutenberg)
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    I know you mentioned Manchester earlier, but 99% of universities, as Klix mentioned, don't involve the subject of the reference in the process, for obvious reasons. I've also just noticed that on Manchester's reference form, there exists the option for academics to email their reference directly to the academic department concerned, which I would imagine most referees would prefer as it means the student doesn't get to see the reference.

    Also, despite what you seem to think, it's usually much less hassle for the referees to upload or send their references themselves wherever possible, rather than having to involve another person.
    Sorry to contradict you Gutenberg, but it depends entirely on the referee. Some consider it more hassle, others are happy to just print them off and give them to you. Of my two referees for PG applications, one was happy to print off the reference and let me look and upload it myself, whereas the other insisted on sealed and stamped envelopes. The latter refused to budge when I told her I required an open reference to upload. Both are senior figures and group leaders, as such they have provided references before and understand the process.
    I applied to a few places, one wanted references uploaded electronically (a scanned copy), one was a paper application (no electronic process available) and another contacted the referees after the application was submitted to obtain references directly. This kind of situation isn't uncommon, as there is no centralised PG applications system, so some academics may consider it easier to provide the copies of the references, either sealed or open as required, and you attach them to the applications and send them on.

    In case you're curious, regarding the referee who only provided a sealed reference and the online application requiring a scanned copy, there is usually a postal method for providing references which we went through. Be warned though, this is a slightly longer process as the reference not only needs to arrive at admissions but must then be linked to your application before it arrives for consideration.

    Regarding sealed references, it's less to do with them not wanting you to see the reference and more to do with ensuring there is no question that it has not been altered. I had a spare sealed reference left after all applications were sent off and I opened it, it was glowing and a pretty good reference. So I wouldn't worry that if your referee refuses to provide open references that it's a bad one
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    (Original post by Zorg)
    Sorry to contradict you Gutenberg, but it depends entirely on the referee. Some consider it more hassle, others are happy to just print them off and give them to you. Of my two referees for PG applications, one was happy to print off the reference and let me look and upload it myself, whereas the other insisted on sealed and stamped envelopes. The latter refused to budge when I told her I required an open reference to upload. Both are senior figures and group leaders, as such they have provided references before and understand the process.
    I applied to a few places, one wanted references uploaded electronically (a scanned copy), one was a paper application (no electronic process available) and another contacted the referees after the application was submitted to obtain references directly. This kind of situation isn't uncommon, as there is no centralised PG applications system, so some academics may consider it easier to provide the copies of the references, either sealed or open as required, and you attach them to the applications and send them on.

    In case you're curious, regarding the referee who only provided a sealed reference and the online application requiring a scanned copy, there is usually a postal method for providing references which we went through. Be warned though, this is a slightly longer process as the reference not only needs to arrive at admissions but must then be linked to your application before it arrives for consideration.

    Regarding sealed references, it's less to do with them not wanting you to see the reference and more to do with ensuring there is no question that it has not been altered. I had a spare sealed reference left after all applications were sent off and I opened it, it was glowing and a pretty good reference. So I wouldn't worry that if your referee refuses to provide open references that it's a bad one
    Fair enough; all the applications I went through for both Master's and PhD had either an electronic system where the referee submitted themselves, or else they operated the sign & seal system; I think the former is becoming the norm though, even my very technology-averse undergrad university has embraced it now

    And I was just pointing out that most (not all, of course) academics wouldn't want you to see the references, so assuming they'll give them to you (as the OP suggests) to upload yourself could be a bit tricky.
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    (Original post by flala)
    Hello,

    I'm an international student applying to multiple UK institutions (Edinburgh, Southampton, Manchester) and have questions regarding the reference letters.

    Some universities have reference requests forms which ask the referee to include the school applied to in the letter and sometimes even the application ID. Since I'm applying to multiple institutions, I'd have to ask my referees to provide individual reference letters for each universities I'm applying to. Is this how it usually works or is it acceptable if I ask my referees to just leave the university-specific information off and return it back to me so that I can scan it and upload it to the application form?

    Thanks in advance
    What some unis do is allow you to nominate a referee in the online application. You give their name and email to the application and the rest happens automatically. Your referee can just copy and past the reference and add the required tidbits.

    Now, if you have to send in the reference by paper (cambridge do this for example) then yes, you have to do all the required steps. so i suggest you do as much as possible (i filled out for example the entire form apart from the signature and actual reference, which was in a sealed envelope actually to be put into the envelope you send...) for your referee to make it easy on them. but even if they have to change the reference itself, doesnt meant much, the text can still be copied and pasted.

    I very much doubt you can just scan a reference, none of my unis that I applied you let you do this :confused: i figured the online thing and paper thing is a way to make sure you did not write the reference yourself (the cost of checking every referee report is too high so i doubt unis check them all).
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    (Original post by gutenberg)
    Fair enough; all the applications I went through for both Master's and PhD had either an electronic system where the referee submitted themselves, or else they operated the sign & seal system; I think the former is becoming the norm though, even my very technology-averse undergrad university has embraced it now

    And I was just pointing out that most (not all, of course) academics wouldn't want you to see the references, so assuming they'll give them to you (as the OP suggests) to upload yourself could be a bit tricky.
    No problem I just wanted to point out that there isn't any harm in asking for an open reference if that's what you require

    The application systems are slowly shifting towards electronic though. Makes it more streamlined I guess. I prefer systems whereby they contact your referees themselves though, it's all automated and avoids the need for an open reference.

    Quite a few places still employ paper applications only though. LSHTM for example.
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    (Original post by danny111)
    I very much doubt you can just scan a reference, none of my unis that I applied you let you do this :confused: i figured the online thing and paper thing is a way to make sure you did not write the reference yourself (the cost of checking every referee report is too high so i doubt unis check them all).
    As mentioned some unis do do this. Authenticity is conferred using the university seal (a stamp which only academics of the uni have access to)

    Obviously anything which does not correlate with the rest of your application will likely be followed up on and checked, so it probably isn't every application that is checked but only the questionable ones.
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    (Original post by flala)
    Hi trisha. I haven't seen any postgraduate application form which requires the references to be typed in electronically. I really meant scanning (signed) reference letters and uploading them in the application form myself.

    Okay I was a little confused because in the undergraduate applications, the referee needs to type the recommendation.
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    (Original post by trisha.b)
    Okay I was a little confused because in the undergraduate applications, the referee needs to type the recommendation.
    Undergrad applications are completely different to postgrad. Not being snobbish, but the process itself is not the same.
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    (Original post by Zorg)
    Undergrad applications are completely different to postgrad. Not being snobbish, but the process itself is not the same.
    Yes, I know. No harm in confirming

    Thank you
 
 
 

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