Parents and families: applying to higher education
The application process - Undergraduate
The Universities and Colleges Admissions
Service (UCAS) is the central organisation responsible for managing
applications to higher education courses in the UK. It acts as a link
between students and the institutions they apply to, making things run as
smoothly as possible by providing online support. Applicants can phone UCAS
on +44 (0) 871 468 0 468 or e-mail
Students can apply to up to five courses through UCAS by completing an online application form. Once students have
filled out all the necessary information, schools/colleges/places of work
will add a reference and then send the application to UCAS. Students can
apply directly to UCAS through the 'Apply' system if they are not attending
a school/college. Applications cost £23, however if students decide to apply
to only one course the cost is reduced to £12.
The deadline for applications from with the UK and EU is 15 January
. International students have a deadline of 30 June.
Students applying for veterinary sciences, medicine, dentistry, or courses
offered at Oxford or Cambridge must apply by 15 October.
For more information, please look at the UCAS
website. In some circumstances applications made after these dates may
be accepted, although this depends on the individual institutions.
*Please note: students applying for medicine, dentistry or veterinary
courses are limited to four choices, their fifth choice can be for a
different subject or left blank.
Applicants must write a personal statement on their UCAS form. Only one
personal statement is submitted for all five choices so it needs to be
relevant to all of the courses. The personal statement provides students
with the opportunity to tell admissions selectors about their suitability
for the degree/s that they have decided to study. Students are required to
demonstrate enthusiasm and commitment, but above all, ensure that they stand
out from the crowd. For more information on what students should include in
their personal statements, please see our
statement writing guide.
There is an awful lot of information that needs to go into the personal
statement; it is difficult to write and will take several attempts. You can
help by providing advice, support and encouragement during the process.
What happens next?
Once UCAS receives an application it is forwarded to the relevant institutions,
where it will be considered. Institutions will respond via UCAS with one of the
- Unconditional Offer – application has been accepted and place
- Conditional Offer – application will be accepted and a place
allocated, provided that certain qualification results are met.
- Rejection – unsuccessful application.
- Invitation to interview or visit day - some institutions may want to interview
students before making a decision. Alternatively students may be invited to a visit
day after they receive an offer. Students should be encouraged to attend these.
Once students receive all of their offers, they choose firm and insurance
What happens if a student gets no offers?
Students who are rejected by all five choices can re-apply through UCAS
Extra. This enables students to submit additional applications through UCAS
to one institution at a time. Students can make additional applications up
until the end of June. If a student still does not have a place they can
enter Clearing in August.
If students meet the requirements they go to their firm choice, if not
they go to their insurance choice. If a student does not meet their firm or
insurance offers those institutions may still be able to offer them a place.
Check this by contacting the institutions. If
both are unable to offer a place, students enter clearing.
Clearing is the period in which students without a place can apply for
vacant spaces on a range of courses. During Clearing, higher education
institutions advertise remaining places on a daily basis. Students can apply
for as many places as they wish. During this time, grade requirements for
courses are often lower than they are for the rest of the year.
Postgraduate application process
For postgraduate study students can either
apply online via the
institutions website, or by requesting an application pack from the
department that they are interested in applying for.
Postgraduate applications are more flexible than undergraduate ones, and the
applicant deals directly with the department throughout the application
For more information about how to apply to postgraduate courses at the
University of Essex please look at our postgraduate
taught and postgraduate research web pages.