The Student Room Group

Using old work reference to give to unis

I work freelance, and for many different people and so wondered if it is ok to use a work reference from about 5 years ago when I worked more consistently for one person who knows me and my abilities well? I worked for them for a few years. Would this be seen as a red flag by the unis not to use someone more recent? Should I explain it to them?

My work has transferable skills to the degree, and I mention it in my personal statement quite a bit.

(I’m applying for some very competitive courses at very competitive unis, if that makes any difference.)

Thanks.
(edited 1 month ago)
You need an academic reference.
Most Unis will not accept a UCAS reference from an employer.

If you have not been in education for a while, you also need to check with any Unis you intend to apply to that they do not have a time limit on qualifications.
Reply 2
Original post by McGinger
You need an academic reference.
Most Unis will not accept a UCAS reference from an employer.
If you have not been in education for a while, you also need to check with any Unis you intend to apply to that they do not have a time limit on qualifications.

Thanks, I do have an academic reference already, it’s to send the work reference as additional information to the uni, because I have already sent them my UCAS application, but it didn’t have a work reference in it. This is because I work freelance, and put myself as the ‘employer’. So I thought they might have doubts if do not see a work reference from anyone. Also I think the reference should hopefully be really good, and because of the transferable skills to the degree I’m applying for.

What I’m concerned about is if they would expect a more recent work reference.
(edited 1 month ago)
Unis will not want another reference - and many will not actually accept one.

If they do want any other info or clarification from you, they will email you to ask for this.
Yes, if this is for an undergrad application and you’ve graduated within the last few years, then they’ll just need one academic reference.
Reply 5
Original post by Admit-One
Yes, if this is for an undergrad application and you’ve graduated within the last few years, then they’ll just need one academic reference.

I have never been to university before- but I think you mean graduated from school? I will have an access course qualification this summer.
Reply 6
Original post by McGinger
Unis will not want another reference - and many will not actually accept one.
If they do want any other info or clarification from you, they will email you to ask for this.

Could it harm my application to ask them if I can send a reference? Or no harm in asking?
Reply 7
Original post by McGinger
Unis will not want another reference - and many will not actually accept one.
If they do want any other info or clarification from you, they will email you to ask for this.

Do they actually ask for a work reference if they are unsure? I am worried they won’t bother and just throw my application away.
Original post by Haribo22
I have never been to university before- but I think you mean graduated from school? I will have an access course qualification this summer.

Apologies, when I say graduated I mean completed your access course. Unless it was 5+ years ago then unis will just ask for an academic reference from your college. A work reference is very rarely needed to apply to an undergraduate course.
Reply 9
Original post by Admit-One
Apologies, when I say graduated I mean completed your access course. Unless it was 5+ years ago then unis will just ask for an academic reference from your college. A work reference is very rarely needed to apply to an undergraduate course.

Thanks for letting me know. I am just worried that they will care that I have put I am freelance and myself as the employer, so not provided a work reference. Even if they don’t usually contact the employer, they might be reassured to see that I have provided a referee for work?

I wonder if you think it could cause any harm to ask them if they might want referee details just in case? Thanks!
Original post by Haribo22
Thanks for letting me know. I am just worried that they will care that I have put I am freelance and myself as the employer, so not provided a work reference. Even if they don’t usually contact the employer, they might be reassured to see that I have provided a referee for work?
I wonder if you think it could cause any harm to ask them if they might want referee details just in case? Thanks!

Unless it’s a course that specifically requires work experience, (typically things like medicine and vet med), they won’t care about or check anything to do with your employment history.
Reply 11
Original post by Admit-One
Unless it’s a course that specifically requires work experience, (typically things like medicine and vet med), they won’t care about or check anything to do with your employment history.

Sorry to ask one last thing but if you are a very mature student and you are doing an access course as it’s non traditional qualification, does it not mean they are more likely to be interested in work reference? I know they are more likely to be interested in personal statement for example in this case.

Because it would be beneficial if they did read my reference as I know it will be a very good one, I just wondered if there’s any harm in me asking them if I can send it, or could it annoy them? One of the degrees I’m applying for has an integrated foundation year (for a ‘top top’ uni) so I thought they might approach looking at applications slightly differently because of the foundation year. Thanks.
(edited 1 month ago)
Original post by Haribo22
Sorry to ask one last thing but if you are a very mature student and you are doing an access course as it’s non traditional qualification, does it not mean they are more likely to be interested in work reference? I know they are more likely to be interested in personal statement for example in this case.

Because it would be beneficial if they did read my reference as I know it will be a very good one, I just wondered if there’s any harm in me asking them if I can send it, or could it annoy them? One of the degrees I’m applying for has an integrated foundation year (for a ‘top top’ uni) so I thought they might approach looking at applications slightly differently because of the foundation year. Thanks.

If you completed the Access Course recently, no, they would not need a professional reference. It would not be of interest and would not strengthen your application. (Caveat: Unless there is some public guidance relaing to mature apps where they specify that they want to see one).

Can you provide one anyway? Meh, yes, but it's likely to be acknowledged as being recieved and then never looked at. There is no harm in asking about it though.
Reply 13
Original post by Admit-One
If you completed the Access Course recently, no, they would not need a professional reference. It would not be of interest and would not strengthen your application. (Caveat: Unless there is some public guidance relaing to mature apps where they specify that they want to see one).
Can you provide one anyway? Meh, yes, but it's likely to be acknowledged as being recieved and then never looked at. There is no harm in asking about it though.

Thank you very much for your advice :smile:
Original post by Haribo22
Thank you very much for your advice :smile:


No problem and best of luck with the application(s).

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