Apply to Universities in the UK - UCAS Application Process, Requirements, Deadlines

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    Abhijeet Singh

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    All the admission applications to study in the undergraduate courses offered by UK universities are made through UCAS (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Services). Most of the undergraduate courses in the UK begin in the month of September-October. International students are required to submit the completed UCAS application forms along with all the documents by January 15, of the year they are applying for.

    To study in the UK, international students may apply for the following levels in UK universities:

    • Undergraduate courses
    • Postgraduate courses
    • Doctorate courses

    To apply for other courses to study in the UK such as foundation, certificate and diploma courses, students shall visit the official website of the university and follow the instructions.

    UK University Entry Requirements

    All the applicants will have to satisfy the requirements set by the University/college to be eligible to study in the UK. The requirements vary as per the course, University, as well as the country of the applicant. The basic requirement includes English Language Proficiency, Qualification, Financial ability.

    Language Proficiency Requirements

    Universities in the UK state their English language requirements in various tests mentioned below. The minimum grade overall, and usually the minimum grades required in writing, speaking, listening, and reading are considered for admission.

    Qualifications Required

    International students who want to take admission in a degree course to study in the UK must make sure to check the qualification requirements set by the university for that particular course, the qualification and other requirements vary as per the course and the university. Mentioned below are some common requirements which applicants must have in order to apply for admission at the universities in the UK.

    • Undergraduate degree – Class XII with a minimum of 60% marks plus English proficiency.
    • Pre-master’s-Undergraduate degree plus IELTS 5.0-5.5
    • Master's degree-First or upper second-class undergraduate degree plus IELTS 7.0, or a pre-masters course
    • For MBA - Undergraduate degree, 2-3 years’ business experience, plus IELTS score of 6.5-7.0
    • PhD-Master's degree, plus IELTS 6.5-7.0

    Proof of Funds

    International applicants who wish to study in the UK must provide evidence of funds to pay for the tuition fees and monthly living costs for the duration of their course(first year) in the UK. This proof will fetch 10 points to the applicants during their Visa application.

    International applicants must prove that they have 1100 GBP per month to live and study. Those who wish to study in London must be able to prove that they have around 1400 GBP per month.

    Step-by-step Guide to Apply Through UCAS

    Before applying for courses to study in the UK through UCAS, the international students have to register in UCAS. The school/college does this for them, applicants can register for the same on their own. They may do the same on their own as well.

    1. Search for courses and colleges/universities in the UK.
    2. Save the courses to the favorite page.
    3. Complete the profile by filling the required information,
    4. Make the UCAS application and submit it along with the personal statement.
    5. Get the Reference letter from teacher/guidance counselor
    6. Do the course preferencing.
    7. Make choices considering the applications received by the university/college.

    The international students shall shortlist colleges, prepare for all the documents required and apply at least two to three weeks before the deadline, applying in advance will make sure applicants have ample to receive the decision about admission and prepare for the Visa process. Applicants’ decision about the admission must be notified to the college/university by April.

    Visa Requirements

    International students shall apply for the student visa as soon as they get Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from their respective university/college. The general student visa process for the UK usually takes around a month. Applicants have to apply for either Tier 4 (General) Student Visa or short-term study visa depending on the course of study.

    Health Insurance

    Students are required to pay for the National Health Service charge of 394.70 USD to study in the UK along with the Visa application fee.

    • Tier 4 General Student Visa (more than 6 months)-they can access the NHS.
    • Tier 4 General Student Visa (under 6 months)-they require medical insurance.

    When and Where to Start to Study in the UK?

    Given below are the basic steps, International students who want to study in the UK can refer to for their application process.

    April 2019 - September 2019

    • Shortlist universities and be updated with the admission requirements.
    • Be familiar with the bank loan options and scholarships to fund the study in the UK.
    • Work on the UCAS admission form.
    • Learn about accommodation options.

    June 2019 - December 2019

    • Prepare for standardized tests like GMAT, GRE, UKCAT, TOEFL or IELTS.
    • Register before the test dates, and crack the exam.
    • Check guidelines and process of test and re-exam.
    • International applicants can apply and appear for these test one year in advance, all the universities accept test scores secured up to two years before the admission year.

    August 2019 - November 2019

    • Shortlist colleges and prepare the application
    • Prepare documents including reference letter(s), Personal Statement and essays.
    • Apply before the deadline

    December 2019 - April 2020

    • Reply to the university's emails.
    • Appear for the interviews(if required)
    • Notify the college about the admission decision.

    April 2020 - July 2020

    • Search and apply for external scholarships to study in the UK if applicable.
    • Apply for a student loan(if needed) after you receive an acceptance(CAS) offer.
    • Prepare and apply for a student visa in time.

    July 2020 - August 2020

    • Book transportation tickets
    • Arrange for an international debit/credit card
    • Collect all the documents to be taken along
    • Check out pre-departure checklist and manage accordingly

    UCAS Application Deadline for 2020 Entry

    Date Details
    Sept 4, 2019 Students can submit completed applications
    Oct 1, 2019 Deadline for music course applications via UCAS Conservatoires
    Oct 15, 2019 Deadline for Oxford, Cambridge and most courses in Medicine, Dentistry, and Veterinary Medicine
    Jan 15, 2020 Deadline for the majority of the undergraduate course
    Feb 25, 2020 Extra Opens
    May 1, 2020 Deadlines for applicants to reply to offers if received all decisions by March 31, 2020
    May 2, 2020 Universities due to respond to applications submitted by January 15, 2020
    June 6, 2020 Deadline for applicants to reply to offers if all decisions were received by May 2, 2020
    June 20, 2020 Deadline for applicants to reply to offers if all decisions were received by June 6, 2020
    June 30, 2020 Entries received after this date are automatically entered into UCAS clearing
    July 4, 2020 Last day to apply through UCAS Extra
    July 5, 2020 UCAS Clearing opens International Baccalaureate (IB) Results Day
    July 11, 2020 Universities due to respond to applications submitted by June 30, 2020
    July 18, 2020 Deadline for applicants to reply to offers if you received all decision by July 11, 2020
    Aug 6, 2020 SQA Results Day
    Aug 15, 2020 A-Level Results Day UCAS Adjustment opens
    Aug 31, 2020 Final date to meet remaining offer conditions UCAS admission ends
    Sept 20, 2020 Final deadline for 2020 entry applications
    Oct 22, 2020 Final day for the universities to make decisions

    International students must check their UCAS dashboard regularly. All the information regarding interview, selection and other details are displayed on the dashboard. Students are also advised to keep their email address up to date and keep a check on the application of the UK universities. Once the applicants are done with the application, focus on visa and money requirements and other important matters mentioned above.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

    Q: What is UCAS?

    Ans: Universities and Colleges Admissions Service or UCAS is the centralized service that students use to apply to the university in the UK. Applications to all the undergraduate courses offered in the UK are received through UCAS only.

    Q: Does UCAS can be used to apply for Master’s degree courses?

    Ans: Yes, International students can use UCAS to apply for the Master’s degree as well, however, universities have their own application portal too for Master’s admission.

    Q: What is the application fee for UCAS?

    Ans: UCAS Application fee for 2020 is 20 GBP for one course, and 25 GBP for more than one courses, applicants will also have to pay 25 GBP if they apply late.

    Q: How many courses can I apply for through UCAS?

    Ans: You can apply for as many as 5 courses through your UCAS Application at the undergraduate level.

    Q: Can I apply to study in the UK without UCAS?

    Ans: Yes, you can apply to the universities in the UK which also accepts the application through their application portal. You should make sure to check the website of that university to make sure whether they accept the application without UCAS.

    Q: What are the documents I need to send along with the application?

    Ans: You are required to send a personal statement and a letter of recommendation along with your application. Other documents like official transcripts and financial statements are also required. Document requirements vary as per the course and the university you have applied for, you should visit the official page of the course at the university’s website to make sure.

    Q: What is a personal statement?

    Ans: A personal statement is a statement or an essay that supports your application to study at a university or college in the UK. It’s a chance for you to express why you’d like to study a particular course or subject, and what skills and experience you possess that show your passion for your chosen field.

    As an international student, you should definitely mention:

    • Your reason to study in the UK instead of studying in your own country.
    • Your English language skills.

    Q: Is it necessary to submit a Personal statement?

    Ans: Yes, Personal statement is one of the essential documents to be submitted along with your application. Your application will not be processed by the universities in the UK unless you have submitted your personal statement.

    Q: From whom can I get a letter of recommendation?

    Ans: If you are applying for an undergraduate course, you can get a letter of recommendation from your subject teacher, guidance counselor, principal.

    If your applying for a master’s or higher degree course, you can get a letter of recommendation from your professor at the university you studied your undergraduate in. If you are working, you can ask your employer, volunteering supervisor or trainer to write a recommendation letter for you.

    Q: What if I miss the deadline to apply through UCAS?

    Ans: If you miss the deadline of October 15, you will have to wait till next year to apply for your choice of course.

    If you miss the January deadline, there is no need to worry as many universities and colleges continues to accept applications from International students nearer to the beginning of the course, however, you should keep in mind that you have to arrange a visa and accommodation, so make sure you have ample time to complete these processes after receiving your CAS.