The application process

In the UK, students apply for university online via the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service – known as UCAS.

For their application, your child will be asked to submit information such as education details and predicted grades, any employment history and a personal statement. They will also need a reference from a teacher which is usually submitted by their school or college.

Overview of the UCAS Application Process

Personal statement

As part of their application your child will need to write a UCAS personal statement. For some applicants this can seem daunting, but it shouldn’t be – it’s an opportunity to really stand out from the crowd. They should talk about why they have chosen that course, their skills and achievements and any interests. This could be sports teams, hobbies and jobs they have had, but it doesn't need to be strictly academic to be relevant to their application. They should not mention any specific university choices, and if they are applying to different subject areas, they should make sure their personal statement is applicable to all of them. 

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After they’ve submitted their application

Universities will consider their application and make an offer based on their predicted grades and personal statement. Some courses may also invite your child to an interview, audition or request a portfolio. If your child receives a decision from their university choice, this could be one of the following:

  • Conditional Offer: they will be accepted on the course provided they meet the conditions, usually the required UCAS points and/or predicted grades.
  • Unconditional Offer: they’ve already met the requirements and are guaranteed a space if that university is their firm choice.
  • Alternative course ‘cross-offer’: based on their qualifications or personal statement, the university may think they are a better fit for a different, but similar course.
  • Unsuccessful – The application was unsuccessful. The reason for this will be shown in their UCAS Track.

It’s important to remember that if your child doesn’t make the grades for their chosen course on results day, or doesn’t get an offer from their preferred university, there are still many options open to them through UCAS Extra and Clearing