University and UCAS Applications
UCAS.com is the online application service for UK universities. Here you can find information on the applications process.
UCAS is the online application service to UK universities. You can apply for up to 5 courses and the courses you can apply for will be determined by your college grades which are converted into points (UCAS points). A UCAS application is made up of personal details, academic qualifications and a personal statement.
There is a one of fee to submit your online application which is:
- £12 for a single course choice
- £23 for up to five choices
The deadline for the majority of UCAS applications is 6pm on 15 January. But do check specific course details which may have different deadlines.
Once you have submitted your application, universities may then invite you for an interview and you will need to check your account regularly for this. Interviews are a great opportunity to get a feel for a university, its facilities and staff.
A university can make the following decisions:
- Unsuccessful: not offer you a place
- Conditional: offer you a place on the condition you achieve your expected grades
- Unconditional: offer you a place with no conditions attached
Are you responses to the offers you have received, you can reply with:
- Decline: for offers you do not want to accept
- Firm: as in confirm your preferred offer
- Insurance: the back-up choice to a conditional firm acceptance
You can only accept one firm choice and one insurance choice (if you choose to have one). You must decline all other offers.
Clearing is a system that operates between mid-July and September (usually starting on A level results day). You can participate in Clearing if you have already applied through UCAS and one of the following situations applies to you:
- You have not received any offers.
- You have declined all your offers or not responded by the due date.
- Your offers have not been confirmed because you have not met the conditions (for example, you have not achieved the required grades).
- You have declined a changed course, a changed date of entry and/or changed point of entry offer.
- You applied for one course which has been declined/unsuccessful and you have paid the full £22 fee.
- UCAS receive your application after 30 June. If they receive your application after this date, they will not send it to any universities and colleges.
Using clearing: The first place to start is with the UCAS search tool. When you select where you normally live along with ‘Clearing 20YY’, you will then be shown all the available courses. The Telegraph will also publish all Clearing vacancies around 15 to 20 August of each year.
Contacting universities: Calling universities you’re interested in during the day to discuss the course is vital. If you are sufficiently well prepared and demonstrate your suitability and passion for the subject, you may receive a verbal offer which you can confirm later.
Confirmation of Clearing place: If the university confirm that they’ll accept you, you can then add the choice in Track in the ‘Your Choices’ section. Don’t forget that you can speak to as many universities and colleges as you like in Clearing, but you can only add one Clearing choice at a time – the one you want to accept.
Q. Will Universities accept lower grades through clearing?
A. Sometimes, especially if you can demonstrate your passion for a subject. Undertaking any relevant work experience can help improve your chances for example, volunteering at a local museum can help strengthen a history degree application.
Q. Do I have to wait until my Clearing Number* appears on UCAS Track to apply?
A. Yes - but that doesn't mean you can't approach universities informally. Most of the Clearing process happens over the phone - it's only the last step that requires a Clearing number and the 'Add a Clearing Choice' button on UCAS Track.
*If you had to be released by either your firm or insurance choices, you will need to wait for confirmation that this has been done, which may take up to 2 weeks.
Q. What is the best way to contact Universities?
A. You should always try to phone the university – this means YOU and not your parents. Make sure you have your notes, a pen, spare paper and your UCAS number with you when you call. You will also need your UCAS Clearing number at some point, but don’t panic if you haven’t received this yet.
Phoning is the most direct way of contacting the university although lines maybe very busy so expect a wait. If you don’t get through to an admissions tutor straight away, don’t worry – sometimes you will have to speak to an advisor first to see if your grades and experience match what they are looking for.
Q. How many courses can I apply for?
A. You can approach as many universities as you like (phoning is best) but you can only can only add one Clearing Choice at a time on UCAS Track. This means that once you apply for a course you won't be able to apply for others courses unless you are rejected by that choice. Always contact a university before applying through clearing as they will most likely reject your application if you don't which will only delay the process.
Q. Can I use Clearing if I want a deferred offer?
A. Yes, you can however, if you're taking a gap year it might be better to re-apply through UCAS in September. This way, you'll have the choice of all universities and courses rather than just the limited selection available through Clearing. You'll also have the advantage of knowing your grades when re-applying, so you can make more informed choices.
If you still want to apply through clearing make sure you tell the university as soon as you contact them that you want to defer your place, although don't be disappointed if they say no.
Q. What if I’m on holiday on results day or just after?
A. In a nutshell: do not do this. It’s best that you make yourself available until Clearing finishes. It’s only 4 weeks, and you will have the rest of the summer to make other plans and take a break. Consider the fact that if you are on holiday it will be hard to discuss things with the universities you're interested in applying to, plus your phone bill will be expensive! If you are on holiday then you will need to be proactive in phoning universities or emailing them to see if they are willing to Skype (if you are unable to phone).
Q. What about getting accommodation?
A. You will find that some universities guarantee accommodation to those entering through Clearing. You will be able to find out on their website, or certainly at their Open Day at least (there will be plenty of people to ask). If the university you are applying to can not guarantee you accommodation, they will help you find somewhere to stay. They will give you lists of approved landlords and/or details of suitable private accommodation. Websites such as Spareroom.co.uk can also be a good way to find rooms to rent, houses to share and people to share with.