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What is UCAS and how does it affect me?

July 22, 2014

Almost everyone finds applying to university challenging in some way. From writing the perfect statement of purpose (or personal statement) to understanding how the application process actually works, it’d be a miracle if we didn’t get a little bit confused at some point!UCAS is one such mystery that can be equally confusing for both UK based A Level students and international students. You may never have heard of UCAS before, but you can bet it’ll start getting mentioned when you’re ready to apply for university! But don’t worry, it’s straightforward once you understand what UCAS is. Here we explain how UCAS affects your university application and what you can expect from this service.

So, what is UCAS?

UCAS stands for ‘University and Colleges Admissions Service’ and it is an organisation that manages higher education applications in the UK. UCAS is an independent service which offers one centralised place for undergraduate students to apply to university and monitor their replies (offers and unsuccessful statuses). This means that if you wanted to apply for a Maths degree at both Manchester University and Liverpool University then you could send both applications through UCAS. You would then review your responses from all institutions through UCAS. IEC Abroad is a UCAS registered centre meaning that we can help you with the application process and offer the best advice.

Do I have to apply through UCAS?

Sometimes we have students who get admitted on the spot at our ‘Spot Admission events’, however in some cases universities will still expect an application to be made through UCAS. So, in almost all cases, yes, you do have to apply through UCAS. Your International Education Consultant will be able to help you further, including helping you stick to deadlines. Excluding courses such as Medicine, which has an earlier deadline, the deadline is usually January 15th. ‘Clearing’ is also an option and this refers to students who may have missed the earlier January deadline. Usually, students apply through clearing because they didn’t receive any offers when they applied the first time around. Clearing opens on the 30th June and allows universities to fill any remaining positions they have on their courses. As you can imagine, less popular courses will usually have more places available in clearing.

How many courses can I apply for through UCAS?

You can apply for five courses through UCAS and if you want to apply to more than one course at a preferred university, this is acceptable – however, you may only get an offer for one of the courses. For Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary Science, you can only apply for four universities, however, you could use your fifth option to apply for a related course (for example Biomedical Science).

How do I apply for postgraduate study?

UCAS is for undergraduate students and for postgraduate study you will usually apply directly to the university. Your International Education Consultant will be able to help you submit your postgraduate application. We hope we’ve offered a clear introduction to UCAS, but, as ever, if you have any more queries you can speak to one of our friendly consultants or get in touch on Facebook and Twitter.