How to apply

If you would like to apply for a place on an undergraduate course in the UK, you will usually need to apply through UCAS.

UCAS are now accepting applications for university or college courses that will run in the 2024-25 academic year. Although their deadline dates for 2024 entry have now passed, you may still be able to apply for many courses. Check our 'missed deadlines and Clearing' section below for guidance and information.

See How to choose a course and our downloadable resource for support on researching and choosing courses.

Applying through your school or college

If you are applying through your school or college, they will encourage you to complete your application at an earlier date, so the school has time to check the details of your application and complete your reference. Check with your school or college on the steps you will need to take to make sure your application is sent to UCAS on time.

Applying independently

To apply independently, you will need to register with UCAS to submit your application. You may find UCAS's guide to applying for an undergraduate course useful.

If you are applying independently, you will need to find somebody to provide you with a reference. The person should ideally know you in an academic capacity. If you don’t have anyone, then you can ask an employer or someone who has known you in a formal capacity. Your referee cannot be a family member or friend. For further information, please see the UCAS guidance for choosing a referee.

If you are returning to education after some time out, it’s likely that you won’t have the same support to fill out your application forms that many schools and colleges provide. UCAS has pages for applicants over the age of 21, aimed at helping mature students complete their forms successfully. It includes tips for writing your personal statement and gathering references to support your application.

You will be asked to list any qualifications you hold, and you will be asked to provide proof of these before you start your course. If you do not have your original certificates, you can usually obtain a copy from the exam board, but this may incur a fee.

  • For those in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, the website provides guidance on how to obtain replacement certificates. Please note that you cannot get a replacement certificate for an O level, CSE, GCSE or A level - your exam board will send you a ‘certified statement of results’ instead, which your higher education provider should accept. Replacement certificates for other qualifications may be available.
  • If you are in Scotland, you can use the Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA) Replacement Certificate Service.

Within your application, you will need to:

✅ Fill in your personal details and qualifications.

✅ Include the courses which you would like to apply for.

✅ Write a personal statement which will be reviewed by your chosen universities or colleges.

✅ Include a reference.

✅ Pay the application fee.

Please see the UCAS website for an overview of the changes made to the application process for 2024.

You may also find UCAS’ tips on Filling in Your UCAS Undergraduate Application and UCAS’ tips on writing a personal statement useful.

UCAS is now accepting applications for courses which begin in 2024. To have the best chance of being considered for your chosen course, you should apply by the deadlines set:

2 October 2023 (18:00 UK time) - deadline for most UCAS Conservatoires music courses which begin in 2024 - check the conservatoire website for full details.

16 October 2023 (18:00 UK time) - deadline for courses at the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, and most courses in medicine, veterinary medicine/science and dentistry which begin in 2024.

31 January 2024 (18:00 UK time) - deadline for all UCAS Undergraduate courses which begin in 2024, except those with a 16 October deadline.

However, if you have missed the main application deadline, you may still be able to apply for many courses. You should contact the university or college directly to check if they have any spaces first.

Any applications received by UCAS after 30 June 2024 will automatically be entered into Clearing. Clearing is the system that universities and colleges use to fill any spaces they have on their higher education courses. It is run by UCAS.

You may consider Clearing as an option if you:

- miss the UCAS application deadline for courses beginning in 2024

- don’t receive any offers from your firm or insurance choice (or you didn't accept any places offered)

- change your mind about your firm or insurance choice and want to apply to a different course or university.

Clearing will open on 5 July 2024. Please see the UCAS 'Clearing' pages for more information.

If you are applying for a place on a practice-based musical theatre, music, dance or drama course at one of the UK’s conservatoires, you should apply through the UCAS conservatoire route.

Most conservatoire courses use the UCAS application deadline dates given at the top of the page, but you should check the deadline for the course you are interested in on the course pages on the conservatoire's website.

Please see our international applicants section for information about how to apply from outside the UK.

You can also use StudyUK to support you to research your options and find out what it might be like to study in the UK.

If you’re not sure if you are ready to start university next year, you could consider making a deferred entry application. This means that you apply to start your course a year later.  If you have already been offered a place on a course and decide you want to take a gap year, you may also be able to defer the start date to the following year.   If you are considering either of these defer options, you should check with the university or college by contacting them directly. You can find out more information on the deferral process on the UCAS website.

Take a look at our 'how to choose a course' section for details of things you might want to consider when applying to uni.

For most undergraduate higher education courses in the UK, you will usually be expected to apply through UCAS. However, there are a few exceptions where applicants should apply directly to the course provider – for example, some part time or professional courses.

If you are only applying for one particular course, some providers will accept a direct application. However, this usually only applies to students with specific circumstances. If you are unsure of the application process for a particular course, it is best to check with the university or college directly.

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