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Text provided in the Teachers' Guide to University brochure. Please see the author below.

posted on 27 Nov '23

Note from UniTasterDays - huge thanks to Carrie Williams. Carrie supplied this text for the Teachers' Guide to University brochure, when employed by the University of South Wales.

A guide to the university admissions service

Applying to university is one of the biggest decisions that a student will make and supporting them through this process might seem daunting for you. However, this short guide will provide you with an overview of the admissions process and highlight some of the important aspects and key dates to be aware of.

Application deadlines

Once students have researched their options and made their final university and course choices, they will need to submit their application through UCAS. Applications are open from September and for students applying to Oxbridge or for medicine, dentistry and veterinary courses, applications must be submitted in October. For most students however, applications will need to be submitted to UCAS by January, the equal consideration deadline. Exact dates vary by a few days every year, so make sure you check the UCAS website for the most up-to-date information.

What happens next?

Once the application has been submitted, it will be reviewed by admissions staff at each university the student has applied to. The academic entry criteria, a student’s predicted or actual grades, personal statement and reference will be considered before a decision is made.

Some universities may require further information and invite students to attend an interview, audition, or request a portfolio of work (for art and design courses). Students should keep an eye on their UCAS Hub and email for this information. It is important that students use an email address they can access whilst still at school or college and after they leave.

Navigating Offers

From January, many students will begin to receive offers. Offers are displayed on students’ UCAS Hub accounts and emailed to them directly.

Waiting for offers can be nerve-wracking and students may begin to worry if they don’t hear back immediately or if their friends receive offers before them. However, universities respond at different times due to varying admissions procedures and students should not be concerned if their offers take slightly longer than their peers.

If an offer has been made, it will be either unconditional or conditional. An unconditional offer means that the student has a place on their chosen course. A conditional offer means that the university has accepted the student subject to them meeting certain conditions – which is usually related to exam results. The full conditions of the offer are shown through the UCAS Hub.

It is also through the UCAS Hub that students can respond to their offers, accepting their firm and insurance choices and declining their remaining offers.

Unsuccessful outcomes

If the university has decided not to offer a place, the student will receive an unsuccessful decision. Sometimes the reason for this decision will appear on the UCAS Hub, if not, students can contact the university to ask for feedback. A withdrawn application means that the application has been withdrawn by the student or the university. If the university has withdrawn the application, the reason will be displayed through the UCAS Hub.

For students that have not been offered a place, it is easy for them to panic and make a rushed decision. However, there are still options available to them. They can either add a choice through UCAS Extra if eligible or look for course availability later on and apply through Clearing.

Universities will display their remaining course places on their websites and will advertise via UCAS. However, it is best to encourage students to ring the universities they are interested in directly, and they can do so from early July onwards.

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