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.

See the UCAS website for the deadline dates for course entry in 2022.

Any applications received now for entry in 2022 will automatically be entered into Clearing. See our ‘missed deadlines and Clearing’ section below for more information.

GCSE, A Level, Scottish Higher/Advance Highers and BTEC exams will go ahead in summer 2022, with grades decided via external marking through exam boards (a return to the way that most exams were graded before the COVID-19 pandemic, rather than the teacher assessments used for the last two years.) A range of measures will be introduced to ensure that exams are fair following varying levels of disruption for students. Some adaptations have also been made to vocational and technical qualifications for the academic year 2021-22.

  • England: The Department for Education and Ofqual have announced that students taking GCSE, AS level and A level exams this summer will receive information to help to focus their revision. Students in England can find out more information on the government Education Hub: How we are helping students prepare for exams this summer - The Education Hub (blog.gov.uk)
  • Wales: Qualifications Wales, which oversees Welsh exam standards, has published details of the adaptations to be made for exams in summer 2022, as well as providing advance information for students to help focus their revision. These measures are outlined in WJEC’s A and AS Level guides: 2022: Everything you need to know (wjec.co.uk)
  • Scotland: The Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA) has a guide to modifications and requirements for exams taking place in 2021-22, confirming their approach to grading, and offering further support to students to help focus their revision: Qualifications 2022 - SQA
  • Northern Ireland: The CCEA exam board, which covers most of the qualifications for pupils in Northern Ireland, has published guidance and key facts for exams taken in 2022: Summer 2022 Awarding | CCEA

Staff at your school, college or exam centre will be able to advise you on how these measures may affect your exams this year.

Contingency plans are in place, to be implemented only in the event that exams cannot go ahead as planned in 2022. Each UK nation has set out arrangements which will be implemented if it is decided that exams cannot go ahead safely or fairly based public health advice and any resulting disruption to the academic year. If exams cannot go ahead at all, grades will be centre- or teacher-awarded. Please see the official plans published for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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.

Please see our ‘international applicants’ section for information about how to apply from outside 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.

If you missed the UCAS application deadline for courses beginning in 2022, don’t worry, you can still apply for many courses through Clearing.

Clearing opened on 5 July and is open until 18 October 2022. Clearing is the system that universities and colleges use to fill any spaces they have on their higher education courses. From July – October, you can apply for a course using Clearing if you’re not already holding an offer from a university or college, and the course still has places.

Clearing is run by UCAS. They hold the official vacancy list, so you can find courses that still have spaces using their Clearing Plus search tool.

You can find full details of the Clearing process, and access the UCAS search tool, on the Clearing section of the UCAS website.

When you have found a course that you would like to apply to, don’t forget that you can also access official data and information about it on Discover Uni to see students’ experiences and what graduates have gone on to do after completing the course.

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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