UCAS Application: The Key Facts and Dates

One of the many challenges you face as a student is the unenviable task of submitting your university application to UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service).

The frequent reminders to get it completed, taking the time to carefully assess your options, and perfecting your personal statement – it can certainly raise the stress levels.

After your school has given it the green light and forwarded it on to UCAS, then comes the dreaded waiting game to see if you landed your preferred choice. It is a time of your life you are not likely to forget in a hurry!

It is important to avoid getting worked up, even if friends or siblings are discovering their fate sooner than you. Systems are in place to help you monitor the status of your application, and if you chat to people who have been through the same process it will provide you with a useful insight into each stage. It always helps to speak to someone who has experienced the same rollercoaster of emotions!

So, what happens after applying?

When UCAS receive your application, they will forward it along to your preferred institutions to assess. At this point, you will receive an introductory email from UCAS, along with details about how to log into UCAS Track, which keeps you updated on the status of your application.

You might receive an invitation to an interview, which will either come to you directly or be displayed on UCAS Track. When the course providers have made up their minds, their decision will be shown on UCAS Track, and you can also expect an email advising you of an update to your application status. They tend to get in touch approximately two months after receiving your application. Yes, that can feel like a lifetime, but remember they are inundated with countless submissions!

What they will say

You will receive one of seven possible responses

Unconditional offer: You have a place on the course if you want it.

Conditional offer: You have a place on the course if you meet the conditions of the offer.

Withdraw: Your application won’t be successful if you didn’t go to the interview or don’t reply to messages from the course provider.

Reject: Unfortunately, your application has been unsuccessful on this occasion.

Not qualified in English, Maths or Science: You don’t have a GCSE, or equivalent, in one or more of these core subjects at a high enough grade.

Not considered:  All places on the course have already been taken.

Offer of a place on an alternative course:  A chance to study a different course run by the same course provider.

How to respond

The course providers will give you a deadline to make your decision by. You can respond to them by simply accessing UCAS Track.

There are three ways in which to respond

Firm acceptance – If you are accepting a conditional offer, the spot is yours as long as you meet the conditions. If you are accepting an unconditional offer, your place is assured and you don’t need to accept a second offer for safety.

Insurance acceptance – This is your back up choice, meaning you should opt for somewhere that has lower entry requirements than your firm choice.

Decline – You are required to turn down any offer that you have not accepted. Should you decline every offer, you could be eligible for UCAS Extra or Clearing.

What to do if you missed the January deadline

You shouldn’t panic if you missed the 15 January deadline to submit the application. There are plenty of ways of still landing that dream course in a brand-new city without having to wait another 12 months, and indeed you have until 30 June to pave the way to the next exciting leg of your learning journey.

Contact universities

Your first-choice uni could still have some spaces, so get in touch with their Admissions department to ascertain whether there are places up for grabs. Universities can accept applications until that key date in June, and the team there can let you know what it will take to secure your place.

Complete the application

As obvious as it sounds, you will feel infinitely more upbeat about your chances of pursuing your dreams when you have put the finishing touches to your application.

Free spaces may well be out there, but it’s a moot point until you keep your end of the bargain! Get it over the finishing line. If some of the application is confusing, don’t be afraid to seek help.

Use UCAS Extra

The UCAS Extra system provides an opportunity to apply after the January deadline has come and gone. You can apply for an unlimited amount of courses, albeit one at a time.

Head start during Clearing

UCAS Clearing is mostly used by those who don’t manage to secure the requisite A-Level results for their preferred course, which means the majority don’t pursue it until the results have been received in August.

Clearing starts one month before results day, which gives you a nice window in which to submit your Clearing application before it gets busy in August.

Useful information

  • If you missed the January deadline, you can still apply up until 30 June 2018, by 6pm.
  • All applications to UK universities for full-time undergraduate courses are made through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service).
  • The application process varies depending on the type of institution for which you are applying, the level of degree, and how you plan to study.
  • Applications to part-time courses are different. You are required to contact universities to ascertain how to apply.
  • If you want postgraduate study, some are accessed via UCAS’ UKPASS service, while others are processed by direct application. UCAS works in partnership with schools, colleges, libraries and other agencies to ensure that all applicants have access to this system.
  • Apply is available on the UCAS website alongside details of all the courses available so you can apply from any computer with access to the internet.