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Before University

UCAS - University Application


Before you apply to University, you should do some research into careers and institutions that interest you. Advice can be sought from your school or college. Investigate what sorts of facilities are available to you and use them as a starting point for your research. If you need advice on choosing a career, you may want to take a look at the sites listed below which provide useful information and contacts.
If you have concerns regarding funding and financial support the Department for Education and Skills is the Government body responsible for education, training and lifelong learning.

Where to study and what course

Before you apply to UCAS you need to think carefully about the course you want to do and where to do it. Some students have already decided the course or subjects that they wish to do or you may be among the many that are undecided. If you are among the unsure it is worthwhile considering the following options:
  • What courses interested you most?
  • Is the course you choose one that you would do well in?
  • Do you meet the entry requirements?
  • What are your best / worst subjects?
It can also be helpful to speak with a course teacher or lecturer and seek their advice on what may be a suitable course to follow. The important thing to remember is that however much advice you ask for or you are given, the ultimate decision rests with you. You should try and choose a course that you would be happy to study for a period of 2-4 years, remember that if you are happy in what you do, you are far more likely to succeed.

Mature students

If you are a mature student UCAS produces a free and comprehensive guide for those aged 21 and over considering higher education called The Mature Students' Guide to Higher Education. It may be worthwhile contacting organisations like NIACE who support adults with continued learning.

How to order an application form

You can request a UCAS application on the UCAS official website (, the British Council or your local Careers service. If you are at school or college in the UK then you must get an application form from your teacher. Do not use the order form from the UCAS website if you are already studying within the UK as you must have your individual school code stamped on your form.

How to apply

On paper

You can submit your application using a paper-based form. The UCAS website has a sample application form that you can use to practice on. If you have already been given the form by your college or university, it is a good idea to make several photocopies to practice with before completing the original. UCAS also provide a booklet 'How to apply 2003 entry' which acts as a guide to completing the form. A copy of the guide is provided with the form. If you choose to submit the form on paper you will need to be very careful when completing it, pay particular attention to grammar, punctuation and spelling. Practice on a copy and get someone to proof read it before you start on the original.


UCAS have introduced a new service designed to make the application process easier. The online application system will enable applicants to apply directly through the website. Once your school, college, careers office or British Council office has signed up to use the service, you will be able to complete your UCAS application form anywhere that has access to the Internet.

When to apply

Applications from the UK or European Union (EU), whatever your nationality, must be received by UCAS between 1 September 2003 and 15 January 2004, except in the following circumstances.
  • You must apply by 15 October 2003 for courses at Oxford University or Cambridge University, or for courses in medicine (course codes A100, A101, A103, A104 or A106), dentistry (course codes A200, A203, A204, A205 or A206) or veterinary medicine or veterinary science (course codes D100 or D101).
  • For art and design Route B courses, you must apply between 1 January 2004 and 24 March 2004. It is recommended that you apply by the 7th March 2004 to avoid any problems.
Universities and colleges will consider all forms submitted by the deadline. If you send in your form after the deadline date but before 30 June 2004, it may be considered, however there are no guarantees. If UCAS receive your application form on or after 1 July 2004, you will be sent details of Clearing.

Please remember that most people apply well before 30 June. Universities and colleges do not guarantee to consider applications they receive after 15 January 2004, and you should be aware that the well-liked courses might not have vacancies after that date. If you think you may be assessed as a 'home' student (UK or EU) for tuition fees, you should apply by 15 January 2004.

If you are applying from outside the EU for one course only and you already have the necessary qualifications, you can apply at any time. You should contact UCAS or your chosen college or university for further information.

You can only submit one UCAS application form in each year's application cycle. Before you fill in the form, research your preferred universities, colleges and courses by reading their prospectuses. Speak to your career adviser and, if possible, go to university and college open days. Talk to your family and friends, or anyone that has attended to university you want to go to. Make sure that you are happy with the university or college that you choose.

Deferring your application

If you apply for deferred entry in 2005, perhaps because you want to take a year out between further and higher education, you should check that the University or college accepts a deferred entry. If your application is for deferred entry in 2005, you must have met the conditions of the offer by 31 August 2004. If you accept a place for 2005 entry, you cannot reapply in the 2005 entry cycle. The only way that you can reapply is by withdrawing the original application by 30 September 2004.

Application checklist

However you complete your form, whether it's paper-based, electronic or online, ensure you check the following:
  • Have all sections of the form been filled?
  • Have you checked the course codes?
  • If you are a BTEC or Scottish applicant, have you entered your registration numbers?
  • Have you signed your form?

Costs of applying

If you are applying for more than one course, University or college, you will need to pay UCAS 15 when you apply. If however you only apply to one course at one institution, you must pay 5 - your acknowledgement letter will explain how you can add more choices later if you want to. Payments can be made by credit/debit card or you may pay your school or college.

Additional Information