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How to Get Admission to UK Universities

Updated on April 16, 2012

Applying to University from School or College

This article is aimed primarily at school or college students from within the UK who are in year 12. The process of getting in can seem a bit scary and complicated; luckily there is lots of help out there and this guide will show you where to start.

The university application cycle opens in September each year – i.e. the beginning of your year 13. This means the last few months of year 12 are vital for researching universities and courses which you are interested in.

Your first port of call is the UCAS website. UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) is an organisation that processes all full time university course applications. The good thing about this is that instead of making multiple applications to different universities you just make one application which UCAS then sends out to the universities you choose.

You can still order hard copies of university prospectuses, but the information in them is also available on line and should be more up to date.
You can still order hard copies of university prospectuses, but the information in them is also available on line and should be more up to date. | Source

What Do I Need to Do in Year 12 to Get into University?

April – start researching courses on the UCAS website. You can search for courses all over the country or select a smaller area such as the North West. Let’s say you’re interested in business degrees. At the moment UCAS is testing a new search mechanism – but stick with the original one for now and do the following - this example shows a search for business degrees in the North West:

  1. On the UCAS homepage select ‘course search’.
  2. In the ‘course search for home and EU students’ box, select ‘search’.
  3. Select ‘search for courses starting in 2012’.
  4. Under subject; type in business.
  5. Under regions highlight North West.
  6. Press search.

A list comes up of all courses for business in the North West. From there you can click on individual courses to see what the entry requirements are. Let’s choose accounting and business at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN). Click on it and then click on Entry requirements and then course specific requirements. You can see that it is asking for 240-280 tariff points. This means if you are taking 3 A levels you will need to get at least 3 C grades or 1B 1C and 1D or 1A and 2Ds. If you are studying a National Diploma you would need at least Merit Merit Merit. There is a link to the tariff tables at the end. Check the GCSE requirements listed here too.

You Can Follow the UCAS Course Search Process in this Video

If the entry requirements look doable; go onto UCLAN’s website to check out the university. Also read the course content to make sure the course will suit you. Do not assume that a course with the same name at a different university will follow the same syllabus.

You can apply to up to 5 universities or up to 5 courses at the same university.

May – August - having found a range of courses at universities you like the look of, find out from each university's website when their open days are and arrange to visit them. You will usually have to register online to attend a university open day and are welcome to take your parents or guardians with you.

August – Start writing your personal statement in a word document or similar. This is the part of the UCAS application form where you convince the universities that you are the right student for them. They are looking for students who are enthusiastic, inquisitive and knowledgeable about their chosen subject. You have a maximum of 4000 characters including spaces – roughly 1 typed page. Examples of personal statements can be found via a link below.

UCAS - the universities and colleges application service (for the UK)
UCAS - the universities and colleges application service (for the UK) | Source

What Do I Need to Do in Year 13 to get into university?

September – The application process opens.

  1. From the UCAS home page select ‘apply’.
  2. Select ‘register to use apply’.
  3. Follow their instructions and you will be given a username at the end. Write down the Username or store it in your phone!
  4. Your school or college should give you a ‘buzzword’ to input which links your application to them and enables your tutor or teachers to put a reference on for you.
  5. Log in to 'UCAS Apply'. You will see all the sections of the form that you need to fill in on the left hand side.
  6. Work through the UCAS application form and paste your personal statement in. You don’t have to do it all at once. You can save and return to it later.
  7. Once your application form is completed; press pay/send and pay online a £22 administration fee to UCAS. Your application is then lodged with your school or college, who will check it for errors and add a reference about you before sending it on to UCAS.

October – There is an early deadline of October 15th for applications to medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine and all degrees at Oxford and Cambridge Universities. If this applies to you, you must meet this deadline.

December – Although the deadline for all other courses is January 15th, it is worth making sure you complete your application before the end of the autumn term. This will give your teachers time to complete your reference and if necessary return the form to you to fix any errors.

February – Make your university finance application – see the link below.

That is it – Done. All you have to do now is await replies from the universities you have applied to. Some may ask you to come for an interview, but many will make you an offer based on the predicted grades from your teachers and your personal statement. Once you have all your replies you make a first choice (firm) and a backup choice (insurance) via UCAS track.


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