Below is a representation to help students plan for their entry into university. This is only a representation with guidelines and is not to be taken literally. Some students will need more time to plan and may have to perform extra tasks as part of their application. Others may need less time or may need to do only part of what is mentioned below. Applicants and their supporters will be responsible for their applications and how they achieve these. We strongly suggest that you do your own research in addition to what is on this sheet. Helpful resources may be www.ucas.com and www.gov.uk/browse/education/student-finance, alongside universities and their websites.
The tool above only for applicants to undergraduate courses at mainstream universities, indicates important points in time for you to consider if you apply through the centralised UCAS system. Some of these are only guidelines. Don’t worry if you are not up to date with these. You can still apply but you will have to step up the work you do to be successful.
The timeline for applicants to Postgraduate courses would be very different, if any would exist at all. Obviously, the timeline for applicants to studentships would depend on when vacancies appear and are more like looking for work than looking for a course. It would be very important to keep an eye out for interesting placements. Preparation for these is not unlike preparing for a job application, while at the same time keeping up your networking and work on your subject to ensure being a strong candidate for entry.
Planning for applicants for Postgraduate taught courses and research courses is more flexible as well, apart from when you apply through UCAS Postgraduate (also on www.ucas.com and the option comes up once you have entered a search word). If you apply to universities direct I would advise you to be early rather than late. From experience I know that for those courses most in demand February can be late already. Other, often equally good courses may still be accessible much later. In my experience a lot of interviews take place in or around April time or staggered throughout spring, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try to get in later.
Important things to remember!
As an undergraduate you don’t apply directly to university (or college/study centre) for higher education courses. In addition to this, you will be in competition for places with all the other applicants. This last point applies for both undergraduates as post graduates. In some instances the situation may be a bit more flexible for postgraduate applicants.
As an undergraduate applicant you can, and will ideally, also apply to up to five different universities or courses and make a choice depending on the offers you get.
For undergraduate courses:
- You would need to choose a course and a university.
- You will need to make sure you have a good referee. Normally this is your secondary school or college where you did your A levels or college course. You will need the ‘Buzzword’ from that institution.
- You will need to register on Ucas Apply.
- The next step is to start filling in your application form online.
- In the meantime, you have to write your Personal Statement.
- You then send off your application form online, which will go to your referee who will add the reference. Only when the referee clicks ‘send’ will it go to the universities you selected. Please see the timeline on here for details.
Once you have sent off your application form you will get offers, which you accept or decline.
If you don’t get any offers you can re-apply for one course at a time through Ucas Extra.
If your grades are not what you thought they would be, and you can’t take up your place, you need to find a place through Clearing from half through August. This will involve calling universities direct. However, before you do this, contact the university anyway to see if they would still accept you with those lower grades.
In the meantime you will or may have to sort out:
- additional entry exams or tests if the subject or university requires this. You can find out more on course pages on the university website, on ucas.com or on https://www.ucas.com/undergraduate/applying-university/admissions-tests
- attendance of additional interviews or selection events at the universities you applied to.
- student funding. Don’t worry, you have plenty of time to apply. Check on https://www.gov.uk/get-undergraduate-student-loan. Also check the student finance page on this website.
- where you are going to stay. In the first year this is normally at the university, after which you will be expected to organise your own accommodation.