UCAS is the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. It handles all undergraduate applications to UK universities centrally: if you want to apply for a course, you will apply through UCAS.
In short, you select which universities and courses you want to apply for (up to five choices), complete an application form with information about yourself and complete a personal statement. Your application will also be accompanied by a reference from a teacher.
Once you have submitted your application, it is received by all the universities or colleges you have applied for. It is then up to the institution to decide whether or not to make you an offer. You can track the whole process via the UCAS website, including seeing any changes to your application.
You will see the phrase ‘UCAS points’ a lot. Essentially, these show how much each qualification and each grade is ‘worth’. It is a way of standardising the vast array of qualifications you can study for.
Universities might ask for a certain amount of UCAS points before they consider you for a course; for example, University X might need 112 UCAS points for their History course, whilst University Y might need 120.
Depending on what you study and what you achieve grade-wise, the amount of UCAS points you have will change. An A at A level is worth 48 points while a C is worth 32. You can use predicted grades to work out how many points you are likely to achieve and this will help you research your options.
You initially apply for up to five courses through UCAS. This can be at five different universities or it can be at one. Once the different universities have responded by either making you an offer or not you will have to narrow your options down to two choices: your firm and insurance choice. Your firm choice is the course you really want to study and the UCAS points requirement should be roughly in-line with your predicted grades.
Your insurance choice is your back up should you not meet the entry requirements of your firm choice. It is therefore sensible to pick somewhere with slightly lower requirements. The most important thing to remember with your insurance choice is that it is not an afterthought. You need to make sure you would be happy studying that course if things do not work out with your firm choice.
Apart from research, research, research, you should also think about applying for student finance when you are making your UCAS choices. Student finance can help you with the financial cost of studying higher education and you can find out more about it on our website. (LINK) Now is also a good time to think about accommodation if you are moving away from home, as you will need to apply for a place in halls of residence or arrange a private rental.
There are deadlines to meet when applying through UCAS. These will vary depending on what sort of institution or course you are applying for.
Applications for Oxford or Cambridge University, medicine, dentistry, or veterinary medicine/science courses need to be completed by 15 October 2020 for 2021 entry. All other courses need to receive applications by 15 January 2021 for 2021 entry.
If you meet these deadlines then all universities must accept and review your application equally. Applications that do not meet the deadline might not be considered, so make sure you get started early.
The UCAS application involves the following:
Make an account, set a password, security questions - all the usual stuff!
Complete your personal details
This includes your email address (very important!), residency, and any criminal convictions. You can also give someone ‘nominated access’ to your account if you would like them to speak to UCAS on your behalf.
Complete additional information (only applies to students from the UK)
Questions about your ethnic origin, national identity, and occupational background are mandatory questions used for monitoring purposes but are not used in any decision-making processes. There is also the chance to talk about your personal circumstances, for example whether you have been in care. Although this is optional, it is an important opportunity to give universities and colleges a more rounded picture of yourself.
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