The Application Process
In the UK, the majority of applications are made through an organisation called UCAS, the University and Colleges Admissions Service, based in Cheltenham. Virtually all are made electronically, through the UCAS website, via their Apply system. Students register at their school or college entering a centre buzzword so that their application is linked and a reference can be added once the application is completed and sent.
It is possible to apply as an individual and invite an appropriate referee to supply a reference for you. You supply their details and they submit the reference direct to UCAS prior to the applicant's submission.
The form is made up of several sections - personal details, education, employment and choices which are all quite straightforward. The part which needs careful consideration and planning is the personal statement (see page).
An applicant may make up to 5 choices, although those applying for dentistry, medicine and veterinary medicine may choose only 4. (They can use their fifth choice for something different if they wish.)
An application for 2021 entry costs £20 for one choice and £26 for 2 - 5 choices.
Each year UCAS begins accepting applications for a new cycle in September . Students applying to Cambridge and Oxford or for dentistry, medicine and veterinary medicine must submit by 15th October. In reality this means that they must be ready well before this (2/3 weeks) as time must be allowed for their school or college to check the application thoroughly, send it back for amendment if necessary, and finally to add the reference plus the all-important predicted grades, prior to the application being received by UCAS by 15th October.
All other applications to be given equal consideration should arrive at UCAS by 15th January with the exception of some art and design courses which offer a later submission date. The same turnaround time needs to be allowed for, so most schools and colleges will set their own internal deadlines for students to work to. UCAS then forwards each application to the chosen universities. For 2021 this has been extended until 6pm on 29th January
Although there are the two main deadlines applications are accepted up until 30th June.
It is possible to apply and choose to delay the start of a course, allowing for a gap year - this is called deferred entry. It is done easily by ticking the relevant box in the Choices section.
There are about 35,000 courses on offer from over 300 institutions in the UK, so the choice is enormous! It is usual to apply for one subject (or very similar subjects) at 5 different institutions rather than very different subjects at the same university or college, and it is the course that should take priority in the decision making process.
Link to UCAS application here
NEXT: The Personal Statement