University Tips Blog
Image of a group of students checking on their university applications
A headshot image of the author, Jon Cheek

by Jon Cheek


posted on 27 Nov '23

Note from UniTasterDays - a huge thanks to Carrie Williams at the University of South Wales. Carrie supplied this content for the UniTasterDays Students' Guide to University brochure.

Decisions, offers and then decisions again – a guide to your university application

Applying to university is one of the biggest decisions that you will make and that might seem really daunting right now. 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 you have researched your options and made your final university and course choices, you will need to submit your application through UCAS. Applications are open from September and for those applying to Oxbridge or for medicine, dentistry and veterinary courses, applications must be submitted in October.

For most students, applications will need to be submitted to UCAS by the end of January, the equal consideration deadline. Exact dates can 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 your application has been submitted, it will be reviewed by admissions staff at each university you have applied to. The academic entry criteria, your predicted or actual grades, personal statement and reference will be considered before a decision is made.

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

Navigating Offers

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

Waiting for offers can be nerve-wracking and you may begin to worry if you don’t hear back immediately or if your friends receive offers before you. Universities respond at different times due to varying admissions procedures and you should not be concerned if your offers take slightly longer than your friends.

If an offer has been made, it will be either unconditional or conditional. An unconditional offer means that you have a place on your chosen course. A conditional offer means that the university has accepted you subject to meeting certain conditions – which is usually related to exam results. The full conditions of the offer are shown through your UCAS Hub. It is also through the UCAS Hub that you can respond to your offers, accepting your firm and insurance choices and declining your remaining offers.

Unsuccessful outcomes

If the university has decided not to offer a place, you will receive an unsuccessful decision. Sometimes the reason for this decision will appear on your UCAS Hub, if not, you can contact the university and ask for feedback.

A withdrawn application means that the application has been withdrawn by you or the university. If the university has withdrawn the application, the reason will be displayed through your UCAS Hub.

For those that have not been offered a place, it is easy to panic and make a rushed decision. However, there are still options available to you. You 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 ring the universities that you are interested in directly, and you can do so from early July onwards.

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