How to… apply to UCAS

UCAS is the UK’s online application system to apply for university. It might seem scary and confusing, but not to worry – it isn’t. Even as an international student, UCAS can be your way into the UK university of your choice, making the process of applying straightforward. From submitting your application to getting an offer, everything is in one place!

First of all, it is important to look at the UCAS deadlines. UCAS works with deadlines that are very important to stick to – if you are late handing in your application, you may miss the chance of getting a place at the university of your choice. Make sure that you consult the UCAS website and check which deadline applies for you and the course you are interested in studying.

For the 2014 cycle, you need to remember that 15th October at midnight is the deadline for Oxford or Cambridge, or any courses in medicine, veterinary medicine/science, and dentistry – even if you’re an international student. The normal deadlines for UK and EU students are the 15th January at 6pm for all other courses other than arts and design courses, for which the deadline is 24th March at 6pm. For international students outside of the EU, your final deadline is the 30th June. However, it is best to apply well before this date to ensure that places are still available (popular courses might book up), and leave enough time to arrange your visa, travel, accommodation, etc.

Before you apply to any courses through UCAS, make sure that you are eligible for the course you would like to apply to – you only get 5 choices – so if you are applying to courses for which you are not eligible, you are essentially wasting your ‘slots’. It is always wise to keep one ‘safe’ option which might not necessarily be your first choice, but you would be likely to be accepted for. Remember also that you can apply for more than one course at the same university.

Then, check whether your school or college is registered with UCAS Apply – if so, you will need to apply through your school, and they can help you with the process. If your school or college isn’t registered with UCAS Apply this isn’t a problem, you can still apply independently.

Either way, start applying! You can do this simply by clicking the ‘Apply’ button from the UCAS homepage. You will be asked to provide information about yourself and your qualifications. Ensure that everything is accurate and spelled correctly – this is the only chance you will get to represent yourself to the university you want to attend! Have all the information you need before you start – including qualifications, results, references and personal statements. Approach your referees to check they are happy to provide your references before you include their details. Make sure that you have written your personal statement ahead of time, proofread it, and had it checked by someone else before you enter it into the Personal Statement box.

Remember that UK students usually apply before they have received their final examination results – this is normal, and it’s not expected of you to have finished already. It does mean that some offers you receive might be conditional on getting certain results. If you still need to obtain your results, select ‘pending’ in the drop down list.

If you have the results of your qualifications already, you can add them at this point, make sure you give the original qualifications, and not what you think is the English equivalent. You will usually need to show your English Language Qualifications.

Finally, remember that you can save and come back to your application any time before you submit it – give yourself plenty of time, and look at it as a work in progress. That way there will be no last minute stress – don’t forget that for the 2014 cycle, the deadlines are now 6pm, rather than midnight.

There you go – everything you need to know about applying to UCAS as an international student. You are not the first international student to apply! As long as you take plenty of time and make sure you have all the information you need ready to go, you will be fine! Good luck!

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