Parents' and carers' guide

UCAS applications

The application process begins in the September of the year before a student intends to start their course – this is normally the beginning of their final year at school or college. There are several key dates that students should be aware of to ensure their application is submitted on time and that they meet all of the deadlines required of them.

Some schools/colleges also set internal deadlines that students will be asked to adhere to. This is to give teachers time to check over each application and ensure that everything is correct before submitting the final draft to UCAS. You should be aware of these milestones and encourage your son or daughter to be proactive with their application to help avoid any last minute panic.

What you need to know:

  1. All applications are completed electronically via the UCAS website.
  2. Students have a maximum of five choices (these can be the same course at different institutions or multiple courses at the same institutions).
  3. One application is submitted to all five choices so we recommend choosing similar courses to ensure the application can be as focussed as possible.
  4. At this stage, they do not need to rank their choices in order of preference.
  5. Each university will only see the application made to them; they will not know the other institutions a student has applied to.

Completing the form

The UCAS application is split into seven sections which can be completed in any order and revisited to make changes at any time before it is finally submitted. All sections must be completed correctly, without any spelling or grammar mistakes.

The final section of the application is a reference, in most cases this will be completed by a teacher(s) at your son or daughter’s school. If they feel another person is more appropriately placed to write a reference then they can request this. We do not recommend that a reference is written by a relative and wherever possible it should be completed by someone who knows the student in a professional context.

Processing an application

Once submitted, UCAS forward the application to the chosen universities. The universities will carefully review all of the sections and consider whether or not to make the candidate an offer.
Admissions selectors generally look at a range of criteria including GCSE grades, predicted A Level/BTEC grades, the subjects being studied at school/college (some courses require qualifications in certain subjects), and evidence of enthusiasm and commitment to the course in the personal statement and the reference.

At this stage the university will also consider any mitigating circumstances that may apply to the student. Examples include a disability or specified learning difference, those who come from a care background or those who may have suffered an illness that has affected performance at GCSE level.

If any of the above does apply we would strongly recommend that this is included in their application, it will not be considered as a negative mark and being fully informed of a student’s circumstances will help admissions teams make fair and accurate offers.