Applying to universities in the UK is streamlined because virtually every university and vocational college application in the nation is handled through one service, the UCAS, or United Kingdom College Application System. Still, there are important dates to keep in mind in your admissions process.
Two Years Before You Enter University
- Research universities and programs in the UK
- Explore funding, including UK scholarships and home country funding
- Begin work on your personal statement
The real application process begins next year, but now is a great time to begin selecting the university you’re interested in. Also, look into scholarships and other funding that may be available in your home country.
One Year Before You Enter University
October 15 – Early deadline.
This is the date that applications for Oxford and Cambridge, the UK’s two most famous and most prestigious universities, are due. Oxford and Cambridge require a separate university application, in addition to the UCAS form. They also require separate admissions exams. Contact the universities directly if you are interested in attending. In addition, a number of professional programs including those in medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine require that UCAS applications be completed by this date.
January 15 – UCAS Application Deadline
This is the date when your UCAS for most programs is due. If you will be mailing information, remember to allow enough time for it to reach the UK. Take plenty of time to complete the application, especially the essay. After all, you only have to finish one. If you were applying to universities in the United States, you might have to complete a dozen or more!
You pay the same fee whether you apply to 2 universities or to 6, so you may as well apply to as many as possible. By the way, the universities don’t have any way of knowing that you applied to other schools. They each receive information relating only to their school.
March 15 – Receive Results for Art & Design Programs
Arts and Design programs inform you of the final results earlier than programs in other fields. If you are accepted, the status will be either “conditional” or “unconditional.” Unconditional means you are assured of a place at that college. Conditional means that you are accepted if you meet a certain condition. Usually, the condition is an exam grade or completion of your secondary education.
March 31 – Receive Final Results for Other Programs
Programs outside of the Arts and Design fields will return results by March 31. You are allowed to confirm up to two programs that have accepted you – one final plus one for insurance.
April 15 – UCAS Extra Application Deadline
If you were not accepted by any universities, you have the opportunity to apply to more schools that still have openings.
April 30 – Finalize Funding and Apply for Student Visa
As soon as you have an acceptance letter from a UK university, apply for your student visa. Visa offices at British embassies are often very busy during the summer months, so do this early. You will also need documents that show you have the money to support yourself and pay for school, without working, while in the UK.
August 15 – Final Placements
If your acceptance was “conditional,” this is the date by which you should have completed all your requirements. Be sure to send copies of your transcript, diploma, certificate or other required records to your university. Also arrange to take a copy with you, just in case.