How to Apply to Universities in the UK through UCAS

ucas apply

Written by Pierre Noronha

Born and raised in Mumbai, Pierre Noronha thought that he was destined to be a Chartered Accountant, but all that changed when he discovered his love for writing. Taking this new found passion forward, he started working as a content writer for UniAcco.

January 20, 2020

Studying in the UK is a great option. Some of the most reputable universities in the world are here in the UK. Students can take advantage of UK’s stance on the importance of education that can be reflected in the state-of-the-art infrastructure, faculty familiar with the latest teaching methodology and the high number of colleges and universities in the UK.

Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) is the central organization that manages all entries to higher education establishments in the UK. The application process can be strenuous so we’ll try our best to make this stage of your university journey go as smoothly as possible.

Before applying

What are your University options?

Under UCAS, you can choose a maximum of five courses. The way you distribute your five courses is completely up to you. For instance, you can apply for five courses at only one university or a different course at five different universities. However, there is an exception when it comes to the prestigious Oxford and Cambridge, where they will accept only one application.

Research, research and research!

Love research? Great. Don’t love research? Get used to it! In order to make the best-informed decision on which university you want to attend, you will have to research a lot. The UK is home to around 150 universities. You will find the right university for you only by diligently going through all the universities specializing in your subject. The key is to start early. This enables you to gather as much information as possible and have plenty of time to make your final decision. Do remember that courses generally start in September/October and lots of universities require you to apply a year in advance.

A really valuable tool that will aid your research is the UCAS website – This site will help you zero down on a university by filtering location, course and university. This presents a great starting point for your research. Make sure to also browse through university websites to get a feel of their vision and mission.

University Visits

A University visit is a great way of getting a feel for the location, culture and offerings of your potential new study destination. You get a chance to interact with lecturers, tutors and even students studying at that particular university. If you’re not based in the UK, many universities offer virtual tours which are really helpful. UCAS also provides prospective students with the facility to ask questions and find out more about studying in the UK.

Your ideal University and course

Once you’ve decided on your field of study and location, you need to narrow your search and make that final decision. Keep in mind the duration of your course. Most degrees last three, or sometimes four years. Some courses even offer a placement year with an employer in the industry. Others (especially language courses) offer the opportunity to study abroad for a year.

Additional Requirements

Most UK Universities have entry requirements for each course, many of which are in line with UK qualifications, so investigate whether you have the equivalent qualifications. If you are an international student, you might have to prove excellent language proficiency. For this, you will have to take standardized tests like IELTS, TOEFL or UCLES. Each university and course is different, so it’s always best to check directly to ensure you are eligible.

During your Application Process

Now that you’re clear with which course and university you want to pursue, it’s time to begin your application. You can apply online using the UCAS online application tool, thus ensuring you won’t miss out on applying to UK universities. There are 6 key sections to your application

Personal details – Basic details, like your name and contact information.

Choices – The five courses you have decided to apply to – the order of preference is only seen by you and UCAS. So, don’t worry about a university grading you lower because you haven’t made it your number one choice.

Education – Here’s where you cover all of the academic 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 the course you are applying for.

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. Here you can showcase personal and professional achievements and any extracurricular activity that will bolster your application. Remember to take your time and have someone trusted to read it to give you feedback.

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.

After applying

Living costs – Studying full time at an international university can be expensive. You need to consider how much you will spend on accommodation, travel, food, clothes and social life. While some smaller, rural cities will be more cost-effective, London and other big cities will be expensive. One should assess all elements and formulate a prudent budget.

Visa – If you’re an international student, you will need a Tier 4 visa, which is a general student 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.

Not a lot of countries have such a robust streamlined mechanism to ensure smooth registration of international students. Do take advantage of this resource – UCAS and jumpstart your higher education!

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