• Mr. Jeff Neill

United Kingdom: Country Connect


Given the recent news that the 2021 UCAS undergraduate application cycle is now open, we wanted to drop a quick post on applying to universities in the UK. Here are some basic tips:

  • All UK universities accept applications through UCAS, the centralized common application for the United Kingdom.

  • There are only about 130 universities in the UK, so there are a finite number of institutions and programmes to examine.

  • The word “programme” in the UK is roughly the equivalent to “major” or “course of study” elsewhere in the world.

  • In the end, students may only apply to five programmes (four in some cases, depending upon the specifics); this could be one programme at five universities or five programmes at one university or any variation between the two extremes.

  • Applications may be submitted as early as September 8, 2020.

  • UCAS acceptances typically come in one of two formats: first, a conditional offer where a student must meet certain conditions in order to be admitted (e.g. receive 5-5-5 on the student’s Higher Level -- HL -- courses); and, second, an unconditional offer where the student is offered a place right away.

  • Final decisions for conditional offers come over the summer when IB scores are released, but the UCAS requires students to declare a “firm” and an “insurance” choice if the student has received more than one offers. This whittles the process down to just two universities.

  • The UCAS website is a wonderful resource for students. Consider their subject guides and their city guides. You can also chat with current students. They also have a listing of upcoming virtual open days.

There is far more to know and to understand about UK admissions, but this is a great primer to get your search started!

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