All You Need To Know About UCAS Application and Clearing

The tagline “UCAS connects people to Higher Education” says it all about what UCAS is. The Universities and College Admission Service (UCAS) is an organization that operates the application process for British Universities. It manages several web application portals, and search tools, and provides free information & advice directed at different stakeholders viz., aspiring students, parents and legal guardians of applicants, school/college staff involved in helping apply, and providers of higher education consultancy.

UCAS is best known for its undergraduate application service even though it operates a number of other admission services like (a) application and searches service for performing arts – UCAS Conservatories, (b) for postgraduate teacher training – UTT, (c) application and search facility for some postgraduate courses – UCAS Postgraduate.

UCAS Login and UCAS Application

Once you’ve decided to apply for admission to colleges/universities in the UK, you have to register and create a UCAS account in UCAS Hub. All registered students will be able to start their application and do the following activities:

  • Explore dozens of subject guides and careers options to get inspired
  • Shortlist courses direct from the UCAS search tool
  • Use the personal statement tool to get a head start on their application
  • Chat to current students with UniBuddy
  • Explore the options for accommodation
  • Find out everything that you need to know about UK apprenticeship

How to Register/Fill Out the UCAS Application Form

Students who seek admission in courses at colleges/universities in the UK need to first register with UCAS Hub and then fill in a form giving all the details so that their application gets considered for admission to the chosen courses by their respective universities. Detailed instructions are available on the website of UCAS. Undergraduate aspirants can take a look at the instructions by visiting the UCAS Undergraduate Application Page.

Step-by-Step Process of Creating UCAS Login

  • The very first step in the journey is to register yourself with UCAS Hub. To do this visit the UCAS website and click on the “Sign-in” link appearing at the top right corner of the page.
  • On the Sign-in page there is a tab titled ‘Register’ click on it, provide a few information like email-ID, First Name, Last Name, Last Name, Password, etc., select the T&C (this is a hyperlink, clicking it will open a page with terms and conditions, read it to know what you are signing up to) and then click on ‘Register’ button.
  • On successful submission of your account registration request, you will receive an email from UCAS to verify the email ID you provided with instructions as to how to verify. Follow the instructions and on completion, you will be registered to UCAS.  
  • Now you are all set to fill in the UCAS form. Make sure the email id is added to the safe-senders list so that information coming from UCAS is not moved to your email’s ‘Spam’ folder. In addition to this precaution, it will be a good idea to check your ‘Spam’ folder regularly to ensure no important email falls through the crack.

Step-by-Step Process of Filling the Application Form

The next step is to fill in the application form. There are 9 sections and in the list provided below, a short description of what is expected to be filled in each section is given.

  1. Personal Details – Name, Age, Title, and Gender
  2. Contact and residency details – Address, email, telephone and where you live
  3. Education – Qualifications and periods of study. For Indian aspiring for undergraduate courses, Class-X and Class-XII qualifications to be submitted. You may need to submit a predicted grade when the actual result is awaited. The prediction would have to be obtained from the school teacher to be given in School’s letterhead. The teacher and the principal need to sign and also put the school’s seal on the document.
  4. Employment – Employment, paid, unpaid, or volunteer work
  5. Nationality details – Birthplace and nationalities
  6. Finance and funding – Tell UCAS how you’ll fund your study
  7. Choices – Provide the list of courses/universities you wish to apply. You can provide a maximum of 5 options
  8. Personal statement – Describe why do you want to study the subject?
  9. Reference – Letter of recommendation to be given by your teacher

You have the provision to review your application before submitting the same. Once, you have reviewed it thoroughly, make payment (which is £26.50)and then wait to hear directly from the university. The website has a help button, clicking which you can get online help to fill in the application.

UCAS Application Process

It is not very lengthy or difficult to fill in the form but it requires a lot of background planning and research to be done so that your application is successful i.e., getting selected for the courses you apply for. The most important task is to shortlist the courses to apply for. You can choose from all 5 courses and care must be given in selecting and shortlisting them.

You must spend enough time searching the courses available, check if you meet the eligibility, and then review the content of the course to evaluate

  • if it matches your competence
  • you have a passion for the subjects taught
  • meets your career objectives.

Once you have shortlisted the courses, note down among other details, the UCAS Code and Application deadline. You may consider taking expert advice and guidance in this exercise.

Personal Statement

The next most important task is to write a ‘Personal Statement’.  This gives you an opportunity to talk about yourself and provide reasons as to why you are a suitable candidate for the course. You need to tell the reader why you’re applying i.e., your ambition, what interests you about the subject, the university/college, and what makes you suitable because of your academics, skills, achievements you’ve gained so far as a student, on the job or any other activities.

This opportunity, however, comes with its own challenges. One must be mindful that there exists a physical limit (number of words) to provide all the meaningful details i.e., you can’t go on describing your academic and non-academic accomplishments to such length that the focus is lost on the reasons for the specific course you have chosen to apply. In short, this task calls for planning, structuring, and conceptualizing the story to be told.

Other Requirements for UCAS Application

Apart from the above two tasks, you have to obtain letters of recommendation from your teachers (for undergraduate courses) and also from your employer in some courses. In case, any qualification of yours is still not complete, you have to obtain a predictive result from your institute.

You also have to check if you need to qualify IELTS (International English Language Testing System) examination. Though this is not a mandatory requirement, most Indian students applying for undergraduate courses need to qualify for this test.

There are some courses for which you may have to take some special examination. For example, students aspiring to get admission in undergraduate courses in English Language and Literature, Classics and English, English and Modern Languages of Oxford University, need to sit for ELAT (English Literature Admission Test). To plan the entire journey, you would need to know the important dates of UCAS.

UCAS Application Fee

  • £20 for 1 university application
  • £26.50 for 2 – 5 applications

UCAS Timeline

In the following table appearing below important dates for the academic year, 2022 and 2023 are provided.

[table id=115 /]

Important Dates

  • 15th Oct: Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Science, specialist programs in a University, or any course at the University of Oxford and/or Cambridge.
  • 15th Jan: Closing dates for majority courses. Submission before this guarantees that your application would be reviewed by the University.
  • 25th Feb: Extra begins – if you have used all five choices and you are not holding any offers.
  • 31st March: Application outcomes will begin to be received. Please check carefully.
  • 30th Jun: Final deadline. All applications from 15th Jan till 30th Jun would be reviewed based on available places.

UCAS Track

Once you’ve sent your application and received your welcome email, you can sign in at any time to see how it’s progressing.

You can sign in to your Hub to check your application’s progress at any time. You’ll need the Personal ID given in your welcome email, along with the password you used when applying.

Other Important Terms

  • UCAS Extra: UCAS Extra is a service that begins on 25th February and runs until the 4th of July which essentially allows you to make a sixth choice university. If you applied for five courses on your UCAS application and didn’t manage to secure any offers, or turned down all the ones you received, UCAS Extra gives you a second chance to apply for a place.
  • UCAS Adjustment: This allows students that have done better than expected in their exams to look into attending a better university. Adjustment is available from A levels results day, until 31st August.
  • UCAS Clearing: 6th July – 20th October, you can apply for a course using Clearing if you are not already holding an offer from a university or college and if the course still has available places.

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What if You Don’t Get into Any of the 5 Universities?

This is where UCAS clearing comes into the scene. UCAS Clearing is how universities and colleges fill any places they still have on their courses. 

From 5 July to 18 October, you can apply for a course using Clearing if you’re not already holding an offer from a university or college, and the course still has places.

You can use Clearing if:

  • you’re applying after 30 June
  • you didn’t receive any offers (or none you wanted to accept)
  • you didn’t meet the conditions of your offers
  • you’ve paid the multiple-choice application fee of £26.50
  • you’ve declined your firm place using the ‘decline my place’ button in your application

Clearing Plus by UCAS

If you’re unplaced or have started a new application, a button will appear in your application – ‘My matches’. This will take you to your top 50 course matches. You’ll then be able to tell universities and colleges you’re ‘interested’ in their courses. If they still have vacancies and you meet their entry requirements, they may call you.

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