Plan Your Career

UK Undergraduate Application Process

You will apply to colleges in the U.K through the UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) website. The UCAS website helps you create a common application form which can be used to apply to several colleges at the same time. Using the information you enter on the website, you will be able to apply for a total of 5 courses in the same/different colleges at the same time without having to apply to each of them individually.

You can choose to apply to a particular college or make an ‘open application’ to all the colleges of the university. For example, you can either choose to apply specifically to the University College London (UCL) at the University of London, or make an open application which will be considered by all colleges that are a part of the University of London.

How to apply?

To apply to a university in the U.K, you will first need to make an account on the UCAS website. After making the account, fill in your personal details and preferences regarding the 5 courses you wish to pursue. You will also have to provide information regarding your educational qualifications and write your personal statement.  Some colleges will also require you to fill in additional forms and questionnaires so that they get to know more about you and are able to make an informed decision regarding your application.

Under normal circumstances, you will also need a reference letter/s from a teacher who has taught you during high school. Fill in the contact details of the teacher who you want should write your reference letter. UCAS will send an e- mail to that teacher asking him/her whether he/she is willing to write a reference for you or not. If the teacher accepts, then he/she will have to write their reference on the UCAS website.

You can also choose to apply by contacting one of the overseas agents of the university/college you wish to join. They will help you make an account on the website and fill in your details. Working through an agent will simplify the application process for you, but make sure that you have decided the course and college you wish to join before you contact an agent.

There are various factors that you will need to consider while applying to colleges in the U.K. All these factors are integral to the application process and your application will not be successful if you fail to consider any of the following factors:


The deadlines play a crucial role during the application process. Before you decide to apply to a particular college, it is essential to go through the deadlines mentioned on the UCAS website. If you miss a deadline, there are a lot of chances that your application will not be considered.

Generally, the application process begins in the month of September 2013 for the session starting in October 2014 next year. If you are going to be applying to Oxford or Cambridge, the final deadline is the 15th of October in the year 2013 for a course starting in 2014. You will not be able to apply to either of the two universities after that date.

However, please go through the official website of the university as the deadlines depend upon the country as well. For example, for the University of Cambridge, you should apply by the 9th of September in case you wish to appear for the subsequent interview in India.

For almost all other universities except Oxford and Cambridge, the deadline is the 15th of January. Even though you can apply to these universities after this date, they do not guarantee that they will consider your application as the preference will be given to applications that have reached the university by this date.

Some Arts and Design courses receive applications till the 24th of March. Go through your college details to know about the deadline for the course you wish to join.

You will be able to apply to colleges and universities till the 30th of June. However, there is no guarantee that these applications will be considered as you have applied after the January 15th deadline. Your application might be considered if there are vacant seats in the course you have applied for.

UCAS also has an ‘extra’ service through which you can apply to more than 5 colleges. It is a free service which is open between the 25th of February and the 3rd of July. You can only use this service in the following conditions:

If you haven’t applied to 5 colleges, then you can apply to more colleges if it’s before the 30th of June and you haven’t accepted or declined any offers or if you had originally applied to only one college.

You will also be allowed to use this service if you have applied to 5 colleges provided that you have received your decision from all 5 colleges and you weren’t accepted by any or you declined all the offers you received.

If you do not manage to receive or accept an offer by the 30th of June, you can make use of the UCAS ‘Clearing Service’. This service is used to directly contact universities that have vacancies in certain courses. It is primarily for students who have not received an offer yet or have rejected all the offers they received. It is also applicable for students who could not manage to meet the conditions on their admission offer.

Through the UCAS clearing service, you can still get an admission offer if any of the universities are willing to accept you in their vacant courses. However, there are little chances that you will be able to pursue the course you desire, and it is most likely that you will have to accept whatever comes your way or drop a year.

Keep in mind that some courses like medicine have early deadlines at certain colleges/universities. Go through the college/university website and check the deadlines regarding your course beforehand.


A very important part of the application process is arranging documents that are to be sent to the university. These documents generally include your class 10th and 11th transcripts (mark sheets) along with your mid – year report of class 12th.

You won’t be able to upload your transcripts online through the UCAS website. You will have to first apply to the university by completing your online UCAS application, making the payment and submitting the application to the university. Once you have applied to the university, the specific college/university authorities will inform you with regards to how and when to submit the required documents. Under most circumstances, you will have to upload scanned and attested copies of these documents on the university website. You might even be asked to send these documents by post.

Make sure that the qualifications you have entered in your application are the same as the ones that are specified on your transcripts and certificates.

You can also choose to provide additional documents that demonstrate other qualifications such as co – curricular activities, work experience, achievements in fields related to art, sports etc.

Many universities encourage students to send all the documents as soon as they apply, whereas others assess applications before requesting students to send their documents. Once you apply, wait for the university to respond to your application and tell you how to go about sending these documents. It is also advisable to go through the particular college/universities’ procedure regarding uploading or sending documents.

You will be required to submit your final Class 12th marks to the university once your results are out. Usually, your admission offer will be based on your final results.

Personal Statements

Another very important step in the UCAS application process is filling in the ‘Personal Statement’. A personal statement is basically an essay about yourself that allows you to communicate in a descriptive manner with the college authorities.

These statements provide you with an opportunity to persuade the college to provide you with an admission offer by telling them about your goals, future plans, experiences and skills. In the UCAS application, you will be allowed to write one personal statement that will be sent to all the colleges/universities you apply to.

Personal statements are very important as they are used by colleges/universities to assess your capabilities as a student along with your academic scores. They help colleges know you better as a person and understand your qualities and achievements that set you apart from other applicants.

For International students, these personal statements are all the more important as they provide the college authorities with an insight into the background of the student and know about his/her reasons for wanting to study in the United Kingdom. They also help the college authorities learn about your communication and English language skills.

You will have to write a personal statement on the UCAS website, but it is advisable to write it on a separate document first and then copy paste it into the space provided on your UCAS profile.

Essentially, your personal statement should highlight certain important aspects of your application. These include:

Which course interests you and why?

What are your future plans after completing the course?

Why do you wish to study in the U.K?

Why do you want to study this course at that particular university/college?

Why should the college prefer you over other applicants?

Do you have any specific skills, knowledge, achievements or experience with regards to your course?

If yes, how will they help you through the length of the course?

 Any other information, regarding your experiences, school life, marks etc.

A good personal statement is one that answers all the above questions and gives an accurate description of your qualities as a student. Keep in mind that the objective of writing your personal statement is to show to the college why you’d be a great student.

References or Recommendation Letters

A very important part of the process of applying to colleges in the U.K is arranging the references or recommendation letters. These are letters that are written by teachers/individuals who know you well academically and can give an honest description of your capabilities and behavior as a student. The teacher/individual who writes your reference is known as your ‘referee’.

References are very important in the application process as they help colleges learn more about how your teachers perceive you as a student and what your nature is as a student. This is the only way through which the colleges get an idea about how you would fit in their university classroom and whether you’ll be able to excel and make the most of the learning opportunities or not.

References let the colleges learn about the way you interact with other students, your career goals, your performance during school and about any other factors that might have influenced your academic performance in a positive or negative manner. It also helps the college/university learn from your referee whether he/she thinks that you are appropriate for the course you wish to pursue or not.

Many universities would also expect your referee to talk about the grades he/she expects you to get in your Class 12th examinations (predicted grades). A strong reference with good predicted grades can make a big impact to the overall perception of your application.

Essentially, you are allowed to write only one reference on the UCAS website. However, some universities might ask you to send additional references to them directly.

You will have to request your teacher or any other individual to write your reference online using the UCAS website. You will have to go the ‘Reference’ section on your application form and add details about the person who according to you should write your reference.

Once you have filled in the details of your referee, UCAS will contact that person asking him/her whether they wish to accept or decline your request. If they accept your request, they will have to write your reference online on the UCAS website by using the link and password provided in the E – mail sent to them.

Tips for effective references:

Choose the teachers who you share a good rapport with and who know you well as a person and as a student.

Choose teachers who have taught you in subjects related to the course you wish to pursue.

Go through the college’s requirements beforehand as some colleges might have prescribed formats for references that are to be followed.

Request the teachers well in advance so that they have ample time to write your references. Make sure that they are well informed about the application deadline.

Remind your teachers to talk about your academic achievements, work experience, commitment towards subject and academic potential in the reference.

Do not ask your friends, relatives or family members to write your reference.

Submitting Forms

Once you’ve filled in your personal details, chosen the colleges/courses you wish to apply to, added your educational and employment qualifications (if applicable) on the UCAS website, you can submit your application form provided that you have completed your personal statement and your referee has submitted your reference.

All you will need to do is click on the ‘pay and send’ section on your UCAS application form. Go through the terms and conditions, and then make the payment by adding your credit/debit card details. You will have to make a payment of 12 pounds if you apply to one college or course. If you choose to apply to multiple courses/colleges (maximum 5), then you will have to make a payment of 23 pounds.

You will get a confirmation from the UCAS website once your form has been successfully submitted. You can log on to the ‘Track’ section on the UCAS website afterwards to find about your offers, replies and results.

Test Results

After submitting the application, make sure that your test reports/results (TOEFL/IELTS/BMAT etc.) are sent to the chosen universities on time.

Under most circumstances, these test reports will be sent automatically to the colleges/universities you had chosen while applying for these tests. However, you can also choose to send these reports to additional colleges by logging on to your profile on the websites of these tests and making the additional payment for the extra test report.

For some tests, you might also be able to download your tests results and report online for free and then send them to your desired college/university.

Even if they are to be sent directly, it is always advisable to check with the university/college whether they have received these reports or not.


Some colleges/universities use personal interviews as an assessment tool during the application process. Not all applicants are asked to appear for interviews. You would only be asked to appear for an interview if your application is liked and gets shortlisted.

Keep in mind that many institutions in the U.K do not conduct interviews and their candidate selection is based purely on the application forms they receive. Usually, it is the more reputed institutions that use these interviews to make sure that they end up admitting only the best of the lot.

Interviews are conducted across various centers in India and you might be required to take original copies of your documents along for verification.

In these interviews, applicants are generally questioned on their knowledge and understanding of the subject they wish to pursue. They might sometimes also have to appear for a written test as a part of the interview. Additionally, you will be asked questions on the basis of the information given by you in your application form.

You might be asked questions regarding your subject, your goals, your lifestyle and opinions. You might also be asked questions based on your personal statement so it is best to re – read it before going for an interview. Being relaxed as well as confident and answering questions clearly can help make a great impression on the interviewer.

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