If you have decided studying undergraduate in the UK, you must have heard or read about UCAS. UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) is the central organisation which manages all entries to higher education establishments in the UK. This means that you will be applying to most of the UK universities via UCAS. If you are familiar with the US College application you can relate UCAS with the Common App for US college application.

UCAS is accepted by all the UK universities even if some of them have their own application portal. Here we are going to explain you about the UCAS and how to use it in order to get admitted in a UK university.

Before applying

Choose

You can choose a maximum of five courses on your UCAS application, which means you can apply for five courses at only one university or college, or a different course at five different universities. This is a general rule across the board, though some universities have exceptions – the renowned and prestigious Oxford and Cambridge will only accept one application, and you can only choose four courses in the veterinary science, medicine or dentistry fields.

Research

You can use UCAS website in order to research and learn about various courses in different universities. You can filter the courses by your own location, subject, university and university locations. It will present options that are only available to you and is a great starting point for your research. You can also visit the website of the universities if any of them interest you. The university websites have detailed information about their courses along with guidelines on how and when to apply for them. It is better for you to start as early as possible so that you have plenty of time to take the final decision. Do remember that courses generally start in September/October, and lots of universities require you to apply a year in advance.

Explore

Explore your interests and passions before you attend a university. Applying to a university is a big choice and it also decides the path of your course. So you can explore the paths that you can possibly follow towards you education in the university.

Attend

If you can fit in a visit to the university you are interested in, it’s a great way to meet course tutors and lecturers, as well as other students beforehand for an insider’s point of view. If you’re going to the UK from abroad, this may not always be possible, so why not explore using virtual tour instead? UCAS also host a variety of events around the world, which offer prospective students a chance to ask questions and find out more about studying in the UK.

Decide

Once you have identified your chosen field of study and location, it’s time to narrow your search and make that final decision. Ensure you have thought everything through thoroughly. Most degrees last three, or sometimes four years (as is often the case in Scotland). Some courses even offer a placement year with an employer in the industry which is a fantastic way to gain additional experience, and will boost your CV to make you more appealing to future employers. Others (especially language courses) offer the opportunity to study abroad for a year, which will also make your resume stand out. Work out what’s right for you, and consider all elements.

Requirements

Most universities and colleges will have entry requirements for each course – many of these are in line with UK qualifications, so investigate whether you have the equivalent qualifications. If you still aren’t sure, contact the university’s admissions board to find out if you meet these requirements. If you’re an international student, some may ask for a level of English language proficiency, so there might be additional tests to sit to secure your place. Each university and course is different, so it’s always best to check directly to ensure you are eligible.

Course Fees

Universities and colleges in the UK may charge differing fees depending on course and your entry requirements, so ensure you find out the most up to date costs by investigating on their website, or checking on the UCAS site.

Do you need to book student accommodation in the UK? Student.com has fantastic student accommodation available in London, Manchester, Liverpool and many more cities.

During

Application
Once you have carefully researched and finally chosen the right course and university for you, it’s time to begin your application. You can apply online using the UCAS online application tool, so regardless of your location, you won’t miss out on applying to UK institutions. There are six key sections to your application, as follows:

Personal details

Your own basic contact details, all necessary for application and correspondence.

Choices

The five courses you have decided to apply to – don’t worry about a preferential order, this is only seen by you (and UCAS!).

Education

Here’s where you cover off all of your current and forthcoming qualifications that you have gained through school and other courses.

Employment

You should note any previous or current employment here, particularly anything of relevance to your course.

Personal statement

This is the most important part of your application – it’s your best opportunity to give an overview of why you should be accepted by the university and onto your chosen course. Here you can showcase personal and professional achievements, and any extracurricular activity that will bolster your application. This statement can be up to 4,000 characters and it should be a comprehensive overview to support your application. Take time to really prepare for this, and start early so you have enough time to redraft. Do get one of your teachers or another independent party to check this over and give you feedback, and ensure you only write information that’s relevant to your course and application.

Reference

This should be a letter that personally recommends you from an academic perspective. This is standardly written by a teacher, career advisor or a tutor, and you should request this in a timely manner so you can submit alongside your application.

Key dates

As with any application process, there are many key dates you should be aware of as you apply. Check with your universities beforehand, and make sure you leave plenty of time to research, complete and submit your application – particularly your personal statement!

15th October

This date on the year prior to the course beginning is the deadline for the majority of dentistry, animal veterinary, and medicine applications. This applies to courses at the University of Cambridge and University of Oxford too.

15th January

This is the last advised application date for the majority of other courses. If you submit after this date, some universities will not consider your application.

24th March

This is the last date for some art and design courses, though it’s definitely worth checking on a case-by-case basis.

30th June

If you apply after this date, you’ll be entered into clearing. Entry into this process means you will need to contact your university of choice directly, to check if there is space on their courses. The applicable courses will be listed on the UCAS website from early on in July until close to term start in September.

Make sure all of your applications have been submitted and received by UCAS by 18:00 GMT, UK time.

After

Living Costs

Studying full time in an international environment can be costly. You need to consider how much you’ll budget for travel, accommodation and bills, and additionally all your personal costs such as food, clothes, and social life. While some smaller, rural cities will be more cost-efficient to live in, London and other larger cities will certainly come with a bigger price tag. It’s worth assessing all elements, and adding in a bit extra in case of any emergencies. A handy tool for reference is The Brightside International Student Calculator, which can help you to estimate the cost of studying in the UK.

Visas

Unless you’re from EEA or Switzerland, if you’re from any other location outside the UK, you’ll need to arrange a Tier 4 visa. You can apply three months before starting your course. The turnaround is normally two weeks, but do leave ample time as it can be much longer than this at peak times. Ensure you have all the documents and information required, which may include an English Language test certification – check out our guide on how to study in the UK for more detailed information.

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