UCAS refers to the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. It is the UK admission service for all students over the age of 16 who wish to apply to go to University. This guide has been created to help you and your child utilise UCAS in order to improve your child’s ability to attend the University course of their choice. It is the ultimate guide to UCAS for parents.
The various sections which this guide will cover include:
- The Fundamental Principles of UCAS
- How To Decide Which A-Levels To Study
- University Choices
- Replying To Offers
- Important Dates
- Results Day
- Useful Links
The Fundamental Principles of UCAS
Within UCAS, there are four different types of application process:
- UCAS Undergraduate: This application process is for students who wish to study undergraduate courses or undergraduate teacher training courses at University.
- UCAS Teacher Training: This application process is for students who wish to study postgraduate teacher training programmes. These courses arerun by universities and colleges, or by schools who offering School Direct programmes.
- CUKAS Performing arts: This application process is for students who wish to study performing arts courses at eitherundergraduate or postgraduate level
- UCAS Postgraduate: This application process is for students who wish to study postgraduate courses at University.
The majority of students using UCAS for the first time, and who wish to study an undergraduate course at University, will require the UCAS Undergraduate application process.
If your child is studying for their A Levels or an equivalent qualification at their school or college, and have registered an interest in attending University, then the staff at that educational institution will help them to register with UCAS. They will provide your child with a reference and help them to write a personal statement which will be attached to your child’s University application form. Your child will also need to pay a registration fee of £12 for one course or £23 if they wish to apply for multiple courses. This fee will either be paid to your child’s school, or your child can pay UCAS directly via an online debit/credit card payment process.
Once your child has registered their personal details, reference and personal statement, they can apply for the particular undergraduate courses that they wish to study as well as the specific universities that they wish to attend.
How To Decide Which A-Levels To Study
When deciding which A Levels to study, your child will need to think about the subjects which will best prepare them for University. In order to make a well-informed decision, you can discuss with your child the different types of university course which they are interested in studying. Think about the subjects which your child currently enjoys as well as their preferred career options. By doing so, you can help your child to select A Level subjects which will aid their eventual university application process. In order to choose subjects which are in tune with your child’s future university studies, they can use the UCAS Progress Search in order to view the various courses on offer. Your child can search according to:
- Course, subject(s) or a particular area of learning: e.g. academic courses such as Maths or History, as well as vocational courses such as hairdressing or plumbing.
- Schools, colleges and training providers: By typing in the name of the centre to which your child wishes to apply, they can find out the various courses they offer.
- Courses or centres close to where you live: If your child enters their postcode or the town in which they wish to study, they will be provided with a list of centres and the courses they offer.
You and your child can search for these courses or institutions before commencing the registration process, as you do not require any login details to access these searches. Once your child has located the course they wish to study and the centre where they wish to study it, they can begin to work towards the entry requirements needed for the course. Entry requirements is the term used to describe the specific qualifications you need and the subjects you need to study.
These entry requirements will affect the A Levels and other qualifications your child chooses to study. For example, if your child wishes to study an undergraduate Maths course, their chosen University may require them to have previously studied A Level Maths. Moreover, it is advisable that you help your child to choose A Level subjects which are beneficial to the undergraduate course that they wish to study. For example, if your child wishes to study an undergraduate Maths course, they will present themselves as a more promising candidate if they have similar A Level subjects in Sciences, Computing or IT.
If you have any queries regarding your child’s course entry requirements, it is advisable that you contact the course provider directly as well as discussing it with your child’s teachers at their school.
When deciding which university to attend, there are several options available to help your child decide. These include:
- University Prospectuses
- Open Days
- Taster Courses and UCAS Events
University Prospectuses: One of the most effective ways to discover more information about a particular University and the courses they offer is to request a Prospectus from them. A University Prospectus is a comprehensive document which includes information about that particular educational institution, the courses they offer, the entry requirements of these courses, as well as additional information about their University and the benefits of attending their institution. It is recommended that you and your child acquire a wide range of University Prospectuses in order to make an informed decision about which course to study and where to study it. In order to order these documents, you can request them directly from the University’s website, or via a broader online prospectus forum.
University Open Days: Once your child has narrowed down their list of potential universities, they can begin to attend open days. An open day is an event held by universities wherein prospective students and their parents can receive guided tours of the university campus, educational and extracurricular facilities and accommodation facilities. As well as these tours, you can talk with staff and students and learn about the academic opportunities available to your child if they decide to study there. Many universities will provide an online timetable of open day activities, and it is useful to check these timetables in advance in order to plan the events which you wish to attend. In order to find and open an open day at your child’s chosen university, you can visit their website directly, use the UCAS search tool or access the new UCAS open days search tool.
Taster Courses and UCAS Events: As well as open days and prospectuses, many universities host taster events wherein prospective students can experience elements of the course for which they are interested in applying. These taster courses often take the form of workshops and seminar sessions which are taught by academic teaching staff at the university. As well as these courses, UCAS also host various events and conventions wherein several universities attend to discuss the courses which they offer. These events offer students the opportunity to meet with academic staff, answer any enquiries they may have regarding particular courses or centre facilities, as well as providing the opportunity to sign up for voluntary organisations or extracurricular activities. These activities may improve your child’s chances of being offered a place when they eventually apply for universities.
Replying to Offers
There are two types of offer which your child can receive on their UCAS profile: unconditional and conditional.
An unconditional offer means that your child has been automatically offered onto a course, irrespective of their exam results. They can select this offer at any point to confirm their place on the University course.
A conditional offer means that your child must receive particular exam results or other requirements in order for their offer to be confirmed. The majority of University offers will be conditional and are dependent upon the results of your child’s A Level exams.
Before your child can reply to their various University offers, they must have received all of the decisions from the Universities to which they have applied. After these replies have arrived, your child can reply with either a firm acceptance, an insurance acceptance or a decline. A firm acceptance means that this University is your child’s first choice and an insurance acceptance means that this University is your child’s back-up choice if the conditional offer of their first choice is not confirmed. A decline means that your child rejects a university’s offer.
Your child must reply to all of their university offers before a specific deadline, otherwise these offers may automatically become declined. Your child’s personal deadline(s) will be visible upon their UCAS Track profile.
If your child intends to apply for a 2015 University course, listed below are several important dates which you will need to consider. If your child prepares their application process in advance, they allow themselves the longest amount of time possible in which to make an informed and confident decision regarding which University to attend and the course they intend to study:
- 1st September 2014: Applications begin for 2015 University courses.
- 15th October 2014: If your child wishes to apply for University courses at either Oxford or Cambridge, or any courses regarding medicine, dentistry and veterinary science, they will need to submit their application to UCAS by 18:00 on this date.
- 15th January 2015: All other applications for University courses must be submitted to UCAS by 18:00 on this date.
- 24th March 2015: If your child is applying for a specific art and design course, their application must be submitted to UCAS by 18:00 on this date. It is important that you verify your child’s course details in order to confirm that they have met the correct application deadlines for their particular course.
- 6th May 2015: If your child has received all of their university/college offers by 31st March 2015, then they must reply to these offers by the 6th May otherwise they will be automatically declined.
- 4th June 2015: If your child has received all of their university/college offers by 7th May 2015, then they must reply to these offers by the 4th June otherwise they will be automatically declined.
- 25th June 2015: If your child has received all of their university/college offers by 4th June 2015, then they must reply to these offers by the 25th June otherwise they will be automatically declined.
- 13th August 2015: Results Day. If your child has met the entry requirements for their university course, then they can accept their conditional course offer and will be certified as attending their chosen University in the autumn. If your child has not met the entry requirements for their university chosen courses, they can begin to register for the full Clearing Vacancy Search from this date.
- 31st August 2015: This is the deadline for any remaining conditions to be met. If your child has not met these conditions by this date, then their chosen university or college may not accept them onto their chosen course.
- 21 September 2015:The final deadline for applications to 2015 courses. All applications for these courses must be submitted to UCAS by 18:00 on this date.
- 30 September 2015: The Clearing Vacancy Search officially closes. After this time your child can continue to add Clearing choices to their UCAS profile, but they will need to contact these Universities and colleges directly in order to discuss any available vacancies.
- 21 October 2015: This is the official deadline for adding Clearing choices to your child’s UCAS profile, as well as the official deadline for universities and colleges to accept any Clearing applicants. After this stage, your child must apply for courses in 2016 if they wish to attend University.
On Results Day, the steps your child will need to take will be dependent upon the types of offers they have previously received, as well as the examination results which they will have achieved.
If your child has received an unconditional offer, all they have to do is accept their offer and they can progress to register for their chosen University course in the autumn.
If your child has received a conditional offer and their exam results meet the entry requirements for this offer, then all your child has to do is accept their conditional offer and they can progress to register for their chosen University course in the autumn.
In both of these circumstances, it is recommended that your child verifies their UCAS Track profile to make sure that their conditional University offer has been confirmed.
Alternatively, if you r child has received a conditional offer but their exam results do not meet the entry requirements for this offer, you and your child will need to check UCAS Track to verify whether your child’s place is confirmed or not. You may find that your child’s University place is confirmed irrespective of their exam results, but your child should contact their chosen University to make sure. During this results period, Universities open additional phone lines for students who need to confirm their University places.
If your child has not been confirmed onto their chosen course, they can use a process known as ‘Clearing’ in order to find an alternative university course. During this process, you and your child must contact the course providers directly in order to discuss the availability of their university courses. Moreover, your child’s Track profile status will adjust to ‘You are in Clearing’ or ‘Clearing has started’.
(Note: If your child’s Track profile has not changed to these statuses, they may have to wait for their examination results to update. If this process appears to be delayed, it is advisable that you contact your child’s chosen universities or colleges in order to negotiate the possibility of being offered a place on their course. Moreover, if your child originally applied for one course and paid a fee of £12, then you may have to pay an additional £11 fee in order to apply for multiple courses via Clearing.)
During the Clearing process, you and your child can visit UCAS online and search their official vacancy list. Using this list, you and your child can contact various Universities and colleges in order to request places on their various undergraduate courses. When contacting these centres, your child will need to provide them with:
- A Clearing number (which will be located on the welcome and choices pages on your child’s Track profile).
- Your child’s Personal ID number (which will be located your child’s Track profile).
These universities/colleges will provide you with course details which you can then added to your child’s Track profile. This information can be added by clicking ‘Add Clearing Choice’ within your child’s Track profile, and then filling in the necessary course details sections. This process will act as your child confirming their offer and, if your child proves successful, then the University will send them a confirmation letter which offers them a place on their undergraduate course.
It is only possible for your child to add one clearing choice to their Track profile at a time. However, if their chosen university/college does not confirm their place, then it is possible to contact other universities and colleges in order to add another clearing choice. You and your child can repeat this process until your child receives a confirmed offer for a university, or until the Clearing Vacancy search period officially closes.
During this Clearing process, it is advisable that you regularly visit UCAS online to check the availability of university courses, as well as correspond with the staff at your child’s school who can help them to apply for various courses.
If you have any further questions regarding UCAS and the application process for university, there are a variety of websites which you can visit. These online resources can provide you with specified advice and support according to the particular educational at which your child wishes to study, as well as the specific coursing in which they are interested in studying: