Procedure for UCAS applications flagged by the Similarity Detection Service


Since September 2007, all personal statements in UCAS applications have been passed through the similarity detection software, Copycatch. Each incoming Personal Statement is compared against a library of personal statements already in the UCAS system, and a library of sample statements collected from a variety of websites and other sources, including paper publications. After it has been processed, each new personal statement is added to the library.

Any personal statements showing a potential level of similarity of 10% or greater are reviewed by members of the UCAS Similarity Detection Service. Universities are notified where there are reasonable grounds to suspect plagiarism and the percentage of similar sentences are given. Where a significant number of sentences have been identified from one source, this is indicated in the report. Applicants are also notified that the UCAS Similarity Detection Service has identified a significant number of copied sentences in their personal statement.

The Loughborough Approach

It would seem somewhat unjust to deem an application unsuccessful solely on the grounds that the Personal Statement contains non-original work. We understand that in some cases, Year 13 students may not be fully aware of the seriousness of plagiarism, and how important it is that their Personal Statement should be 100% their own work. It is accepted that students are likely to compare Statements with peers, which may also lead to some similarity in content. In addition, many schools and colleges provide help and advice to students, sometimes in the form of Personal Statement templates, which may inadvertently lead to their Statements being picked up by the Similarity Detection Service. However, plagiarism is a serious matter within Higher Education, and the University wishes to impress this seriousness upon prospective students and therefore adopts the following procedure with applicants whose application has been flagged up by the UCAS Similarity Detection Service.


The University is notified by UCAS that an application has been highlighted by the UCAS Similarity Detection Service.
The applicant is sent an email by the University pointing out the seriousness of plagiarism in an academic context and, if the similarity is over 45%, they will be asked to re-submit a new Personal Statement.
The revised Personal Statement is attached to the applicant's electronic application, so that further consideration can be given. Admissions decision-makers are encouraged to consider the application on academic grounds, taking the new Personal Statement into consideration.
If the University wishes to make an offer, this will be processed in the usual way via UCAS.
If an applicant declines the opportunity to submit a revised Personal Statement, or does not reply to our original or reminder emails, the application will be made unsuccessful.


You can find detailed guidance on the UCAS Similarity Detection Service.


Updated 10th March 2022