Applying To University

How do I apply to university in the UK?

To apply for an undergraduate course in the UK, you will first need to choose a degree course, as well as which universities you wish to apply to.

Once you've done this, you can fill out and submit an application form through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Services (UCAS).

They will then process this and send it to your chosen universities for consideration.

The UCAS form contains the following sections:

  • Personal details
  • Additional information (UK applicants only)
  • Student finance
  • Course choices
  • Full education history
  • Employment history
  • Personal statement
  • Reference

The personal statement is one of the most vital parts of your application, so it’s important to spend as much time on it as possible.

For help and advice on putting together a successful personal statement, please see:

The personal statement is one of the most crucial parts of the application form, so we recommend you start your application in July or August, so you have plenty of time to complete it, especially if you are applying for Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Science or to Oxbridge.

Once you have written your personal statement, and filled out the rest of the form, you can then submit it to UCAS.

Take a look at our application timeline to make sure you don’t miss the 15th January deadline (otherwise universities may not consider your application).

How do I fill out my UCAS undergraduate application form?

To apply for an undergraduate degree in the UK, you use the application system provided by UCAS. You don't need to fill it all out at once, but can save your progress and come back to it at another time.

Please be aware that you can only apply once in the UCAS cycle, and that admissions tutors will be looking at a number of things on your application form when making their decisions.

These include qualifications, references, personal statement, commitment to the subject, concise and fluent writing, knowledge and wider reading, and your attitude to learning.

1. Choose your degree and university

As mentioned earlier, before you start filling out your UCAS form, you will need to choose your degree and university.

These are important, although sometimes difficult, decisions to make. Remember, you will be spending the next few years at this university studying this subject.

To help you decide, take a look at our choosing a degree and choosing a university guides for more information.

You may also want to check out the deadlines for applying to make sure you don't miss out, and look at the latest information on university rankings to help inform your decisions.

2. Register for UCAS Apply

Once you have decided which degree programme you want to apply for and which universities you want to apply to, you'll need to register for UCAS Apply.

To do this, you'll need to fill out some personal details, create a username and password, and set some security questions.

Make sure you enter your name as it appears on your birth certificate or passport.

3. Sign in

Next you can add funding and sponsorship options, residential status, special needs or requirements, etc.

Add your email address, which will be verified by UCAS.

You can also give a parent or guardian nominated access if you wish them to be able to speak to UCAS on your behalf.

4. Complete your additional information

If you're a UK student, you'll need to fill in some extra details about your ethnic origin, occupational background and national identity.

Don't worry - these won't have any impact on the outcome of your application, and will only be sent to universities once you have been offered a place.

5. Course choices and education history

You can add up to five courses on your UCAS form, and there's no preference order. Universities won't be able to see where else you've applied to until you've replied to any offers you've received.

If you're applying to study medicine, dentistry or veterinary science, you can only add up to four course choices. If you want to apply to Oxbridge, remember that you can only apply to either Oxford or Cambridge, not both.

For those taking a gap year, check that the universities accept deferred entries.

You must enter all your qualifications from secondary education onwards – this includes any you have already received, or you’re still awaiting the results for. 

UCAS will process most exam results you are waiting for, and forward these on to universities and colleges as soon as they become available.

If any of your pending qualifications aren't on here, you still need to add them to your application, but also remember you’ll need to send the results on to your chosen universities and colleges when you get them.

If you studied at a university or college but didn't finish the course, you still need to enter these details. Include the start and finish date, and put down that you didn't gain any qualifications there.

If you are currently studying for a qualification or awaiting results, it is important you make sure your referee adds your predicted grades to your application, since some universities and colleges won't consider your application without them.

It's essential you enter the correct qualifications on your application, especially if you're taking a vocational qualification, such as a BTEC or NVQ, as there are a number of different options to choose from on the Apply sysyem, depending on the size and type of qualification you're taking.

Universities and colleges will use the information you put in your application to make their decisions, so if you're not sure which version of a qualification you're taking, talk to your school or college.

6. Work experience

If you've had any paid jobs, either full-time or part-time, you can enter details for up to five of them. These include company names, addresses, job descriptions and start and finish dates.

For any unpaid or voluntary work you've completed, you should mention this in your personal statement.

7. Paste in your personal statement

This is your chance to show universities and colleges why you want to study the course, why you would make an ideal student and why you would be an asset to the university's department.

To help you write this, we have lots of resources here at Studential, including:

It might take a while until you’re happy with it and you’ve checked it through with teachers, family and freinds, which is why we recommend you start writing as early as possible (some students like to get their first draft done by the end of the school holidays in July/August).

8. View and edit

Read through your application and see if you need to make any edits, then mark it as complete and save it.

Once you’ve marked all previous sections as complete, you’ll be able to read and agree to the declaration.

This allows UCAS to process your application and send it to your chosen universities or higher education colleges. You can then move on to the final sections.

9. Pay your fee and send

A reference is a written recommendation from a teacher, adviser or professional who can write about your academic ability.

Everyone needs to submit a reference, which you will need to do before can submit your application to UCAS.

For 2025 entry, the application fee is £22 for a single choice, or £28.50 for more than one choice. 

What are the entry requirements for university?

Institutions set their own entry requirements based on the subject and the demands of the specific course to ensure that the students who make it through the selection process have the necessary knowledge and skills.

They typically consider:

  • your previous qualifications, subjects and grades - typically A-levels as well your GCSE results
  • whether you're the right fit for the course - based on your experience, interests and skills
  • how well you perform at a university interview
  • any other information - for example, health or Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks.

It's important to be aware that course providers don't immediately dismiss those that fall short of their exact requirements, so you may still receive an offer for a place on a course if you don't quite achieve your predicted grades.

What is the UCAS Points System?

While institutions do ask for grades in certain subjects at A-level (or equivalent) as part of their course entry requirements, they may also request a particular amount of UCAS Tariff points.

Although this system is optional, it is sometimes used by admissions staff to compare applicants.

When are the UCAS application deadlines?

Here are the key dates for applications in 2024/25:

  • 31 January 2024 - applications for most courses to be received by UCAS.
  • 28 February 2024 - UCAS Extra opens.
  • 19 May 2024 - university decisions due on applications submitted by 31 January 2024.
  • 14 May 2024 - undergraduate applications open for 2025
  • 30 June 2024 - all applications received after this date will enter into Clearing
  • 4 July 2024 - last date to apply in Extra for 2022 entry
  • 5 July 2024 - Clearing opens.
  • 14 July 2024 - university/college decisions due on applications submitted by 30 June 2024.
  • 6 August 2024 - SQA results day for students in Scotland
  • 15 August 2024 - A level results day.
  • 3 September 2024 - completed undergraduate applications can be submitted to UCAS
  • 25 September 2024 - final application deadline for courses starting in 2024
  • 2 October 2024 - application deadline for conservatoire music applications
  • 15 October - deadline for applications to the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and for most courses in medicine, dentistry, and veterinary medicine/science
  • 21 October 2024 - deadline for Clearing choices to be added.

Applicants who have used all five choices but are not holding any offers (or have declined those received) may consider the UCAS Extra service, allowing you to add one more choice.

If you've choices remaining from the five available, you may be able to enter more using UCAS Hub. However, this will incur a further application fee and it needs to be done before the final UCAS deadline. You can't use this feature if you've already accepted or declined your offers.

How do I track my university application?

Once your application has been sent and you've received a welcome email, you can follow its progress by logging into UCAS Hub. To use this online system, simply sign in with your personal ID and password.

This will allow you to find out if you have any offers for a place on a course or receive an invitation to attend an interview. You can also respond to any offers you receive from your chosen universities.

Don't worry about missing out on important updates, as you'll be notified by email of any changes to your application. You may not see much activity at first, as it can take months to receive verdicts.

While there are some things that can still be changed, including swapping choices, you'll need to be aware of the timescales involved.

When will I receive offers from my chosen universities?

It can take weeks or even months before you start receiving offers from your chosen universities, but when they do get in touch with an offer, you'll receive a notification email (as long as you're set up in UCAS Hub). You can then log in and view the offer.

The four offer types are:

  • Conditional - you'll still need to meet the entry requirements, typically your A-level results.
  • Unconditional - you've been allocated a place on the course, but a few things may still need to be arranged. For example, you may need to get a DBS check, provide proof of your qualifications or meet other medical or financial requirements.
  • Unsuccessful - the university has made the decision not to offer you a place on their course. You may or may not be given a reason.
  • Withdrawn - either you or the university chooses to withdraw a course choice. In these circumstances, you should receive an explanation from the university through UCAS.

Instead of simply making you an offer, universities might invite you to an interview or audition. You'll find out about this through UCAS Hub.

Once all your UCAS offers are in, you'll have to make a decision and respond by the deadline. You can:

  • pick a firm choice, your preferred option
  • select an insurance choice as back-up, if your firm choice is conditional
  • decline the other offers.

You may choose to decline all the offers, adding more courses through the UCAS Extra service.

If you have a conditional place on a course, your status will be updated by the university once they've received your grades/exam results.

After you've been firmly accepted by a university, you'll receive details from the institution about what to do next.

How can I finance my degree?

As soon as you've sent your application, you can begin to look for ways to fund your study.

There are various options available, including tuition fee loans, maintenance loans and non-repayable grants. Eligibility will usually depend on where in the UK you live.

For more information on the types of funding, please see our Student Finance guide.

When is A level results day?

If you've received offers which are conditional on your exam results, A level results day is vital. For those wanting to start university in 2024, this will be on Thursday 15 August 2024.

In most cases, exam results are sent directly from UCAS to your various choices.

All's not lost if you didn't receive any offers or you didn't get the grades you hoped for, as Clearing has been set up for universities and colleges to fill any remaining course vacancies. You can use the regularly updated UCAS search tool to find suitable courses.

What happens if I have to go into Clearing?

If you missed the 30 June deadline, have made a last minute decision to apply to university or didn't get the grades needed to secure your firm or insurance offers, then don't panic - Clearing offers another chance for you to get into university.

For more information about Clearing and how to prepare for it, please see our dedicated Clearing Guide.

What is a higher education college?

A higher education college is a great alternative to university if you would prefer to attend a smaller institution.

These colleges, like universities, offer undergraduate courses in a more intimate environment.

As well as this, there are the added benefits of smaller class sizes, more one-to-one time with tutors, more detailed career guidance, more flexibility, and in some cases, lower costs.

Take a look at our College or University? section and our Swindon College case study for more details.

How do I prepare for university?

To make sure you are ready to start university in the autumn, you will need to have sorted out your accommodation, student finance and your student bank account.

Before you go, it’s also a good idea to make a checklist of everything you need so you don’t forget any of those essentials (or non-essentials!).

Check how long it will take to get there, where you need to go when you arrive and leave plenty of time.

If it’s a long journey, you might want to consider travelling the day before and staying the night somewhere locally. This way, you’ll be refreshed and ready for your first day.

What if I need to go into Clearing?

If you think you may need to enter Clearing, then you can apply through this process up until late September.

A full list of course vacancies is published between mid-August and late-September on both the UCAS website and in the Telegraph newspaper.

First of all, we recommend you look at what courses are still on offer in UCAS Extra at the end of June.

Once you have found some suitable ones, check their entry requirements and make sure you are realistic about whether you can achieve the required grades.

Next, read through the course content for each one, and see if they cover all aspects of your subject that you are interested in and want to learn more about.

Using this information, you should be able to put together a shortlist and call up the universities one by one to enquire further, making sure you have your notes about each course to hand.

This way, you will come across as an informed candidate that sounds genuinely interested in attending their university.

You can add Clearing choices through UCAS Track, but only one at a time, and you can only add one after you have spoken to the university first.

Hopefully one of the universities on your shortlist will consider your application and offer you a place. If not, don’t be disheartened – keep looking, and you will find eventually find somewhere suitable.

If you’re really struggling however, remember that you can always withdraw your application and reapply again next year.

For more help and advice, take a look at our Clearing Guide.

What are distance learning degrees?

Distance learning degrees allow you study wherever you want and offer a flexible approach.

This allows you to fit your degree around work or other commitments. You learn using study materials and online learning resources that are designed for active learning.

There will usually be an opportunity to connect with other students via a virtual learning environment.

Discover more about distance learning degrees and whether they might be a good option for you.

Should I study abroad?

As well as saving money on lower tuition fees, there are many great reasons to consider taking your higher education overseas. These include:

  • The opportunity to travel
  • Immersing yourseld in a new culture
  • Learning a new language
  • Gain new skills and overcome personal challenges
  • Forge new friendships from around the world
  • Enhanced career opportunities
  • Discover new interests
  • Postgraduate admissions
  • A high quality education.

Find out more with our dedicated studying abroad guide.

What happens in Freshers’ Week?

Freshers’ Week is a rite of passage for any student beginning their university journey, giving you a chance to make friends and have lots of fun before getting down to the serious business of studying.

This week-long event is an opportunity to adjust to your new environment, find out where the supermarkets and other shops are, and find your way around the lecture halls, canteen and other facilities.

You can also sign up for clubs and societies, so take a look at what’s available and get involved in anything that interests you.

We're sure the week will fly by! so make the most of it while you can.

What other resources are there to help me prepare for university?

As well as talking to your family and friends about any concerns you may have, we have lots of other tips and advice on preparing for university, including:

Further information

Choosing A Degree

We outline the factors to consider to help you choose the best course for you.

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Choosing A University

Discover what's important when deciding which universities to apply to.

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Russell Group Universities

What are the Russell Group universities and should you apply to them?

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Applying To Oxbridge

Discover more about Oxbridge to help you choose between these two leading universities.

Find out more

University Rankings

What are university rankings and how much attention should you pay to them?

Find out more

University Open Days

All the answers to the most commonly asked questions about university open days.

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UCAS Deadlines

A list of important dates for those applying to university in 2022-23.

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University Admissions Tests

Find out what to expect from any university admissions tests you have to take.

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University Interviews

Prepare for your university interview with our in-depth guides.

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UCAS Extra

UCAS Extra gives you a second chance to secure a university offer.

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Our UCAS FAQs guide answers the most common questions asked by prospective students.

Find out more

UCAS Points

The UCAS tariff is a points system that measures achievement across a range of qualifications.

Find out more


Your UCAS Hub allows you to check the progress of your application once you’ve submitted it.

Find out more

UCAS Reference

Find out who you should ask for a UCAS reference.

Find out more

UCAS For Parents

A guide to helping your child fill out their UCAS application online.

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International UCAS Students

Information for international students and what you need to do to apply to study in the UK.

Find out more

Mature UCAS Students

Discover more about your university options as a mature student.

Find out more

Disabled UCAS Students

Information and advice for disabled students applying to university.

Find out more

University Subject Guides

Information on applying for specific subjects at university.

Find out more

Personal Statement Examples

Browse our collection of personal statement examples for inspiration.

Find out more

Personal Statement Writing Guide

Advice on writing a successful personal statement for university.

Find out more

University Guides

In-depth guides to individual universities around the UK.

Find out more

Clearing Guide

How to navigate the Clearing process for university in the UK.

Find out more

Studying Abroad

What you need to consider if you're planning on studying for your degree overseas.

Find out more

15th Janaury UCAS Deadline

Don't panic if you miss the 15th January UCAS deadline.

Find out more

Should I Retake My A Levels?

Tips and advice on whether you should retake your A levels.

Find out more

Is A Degree Worth It?

Not sure if applying to university is worth it? We explain the pros and cons.

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Firm & Insurance Choices

Tips and advice on making your firm and insurance choices for university.

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International Student Tips

Tips for international students applying to university in the UK.

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UCAS Tariff Explained

Wondering what the UCAS Tariff is and what it means for your uni application? We explain all.

Find out more

Clearing & The Hunger Games

We explain why going through the Clearing process is like being in the Hunger Games.

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Ultimate UCAS FAQs Guide

We've got all your questions answered with our ultimate UCAS FAQs guide over at our blog.

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Choosing A Uni: Top Tips

Choosing a uni is like going on a diet. Find out why with our top tips in our blog post.

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Uni Applications: Online Toolkit

Links to all the resources you need to apply to university and more.

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Best UK Universities

Read our TV and movie guide to the current best UK universities.

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How Does Clearing Work?

Wondering what UCAS Clearing is and how it works? Our blog post has all the answers.

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How To Apply To Conservatoires

Want to study at a conservatoire rather than a traditional university? We outline how to get started.

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Waiting For University Offers

Stressed about waiting for university offers? Here's why you shouldn't worry.

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