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!