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The Application Process

There are different ways to apply to higher education, depending on the course type and institution, but the majority of applications are managed by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). In this article we’ll explain the process of making an application through UCAS. 

  1. Research and register

Knowing what you’d like to apply for is the first step! There are many tools to help course and institution research, so that you can be sure that you’re applying to the right option for you. Signing up to an account on the UCAS hub is a great place to start as you can compare options and find subjects that are linked to your interests and career plans.

You apply online, so make sure you’re registered before you start. 

  1. Apply 

The online application form can be found under the ‘Your Application’ tile on the UCAS hub. There are quite a few sections to complete, so make sure you give yourself enough time to fill out the form correctly. You will need to complete the following sections: 

Personal DetailsAdd your information and remember to add an email address that you have access to and check regularly, this is so that you can stay up to date with UCAS. 
Additional InformationThere are some mandatory questions in this section which are used for monitoring and do not influence the decisions of universities and colleges. 
There are also some optional questions, which are designed to give universities and colleges a more complete picture of you and your background and allow them to offer additional support in some cases. 
Student FinanceYou will be asked how you plan to fund your studies, but it is also important that you apply for student finance separately, as UCAS do not manage this process. 
Course ChoiceYou will add each course/institution that you wish to apply to. You can add a maximum of five choices. 
EducationYou will need to add details of your education and the qualifications you have received and those you are still studying. It is really important that you add the correct courses and grades/predicted grades as this helps universities and colleges decide whether to make you an offer.
Employment HistoryIf you’ve had paid jobs, you can enter the details here. Voluntary work or work experience shouldn’t be included in this section. 
Personal StatementThis is your chance to tell the universities and colleges why you wish to study your chosen course, and the skills and qualities you have which mean you’re the right candidate. We’ve added some more information on this below. 
  1. Personal Statement 

This is your opportunity to talk about why you wish to study your chosen course and the experience you have which means you’ll succeed. Remember, this is sent to all of the universities and colleges that you apply to so try not to make it too specific to institutions. 

You get a maximum of 4000 characters, so you will need to think carefully about what you want to say. This is why research is important, as it can help you to decide what to include in your personal statement. What skills and qualities are the universities and colleges asking for? Try and think of evidence and examples of how you meet these criteria and talk about them in your personal statement. 

  1. Check and Send 

Be sure to proof read your application before sending it. Once you are happy, add details of the person who will write your reference and pay the application fee. 

  1. Monitor

You will receive email notifications each time something happens to your application. 

If you are made an offer

You will see details of the offers you receive on UCAS Track, they will explain any additional conditions and what to do next. Once you have received decisions for all universities and colleges you will need to decide which are your firm and insurance choices. 

If you are not made an offer

If you are not made an offer, or decline the offers you do receive, you will be eligible to apply to additional choices using UCAS Extra which opens in February. 

If you change your mind

If you change your mind, you can decline any offers you receive and look out for course vacancies through clearing. 


Applications to higher and degree apprenticeships are often made directly to the employer, although some might require an application to the institution providing the academic course which runs alongside employment. Although applications are made directly to employers there is a search tool on the UCAS website that allows you to search for apprenticeship vacancies and filter them by geographical location, qualification level or subject.