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UCAS Explained

If your child or young person is currently in education, usually their school or college will introduce them to UCAS and will guide them through the university application process.

Whether you want to help support your loved one through the application or are leaving them to it, you may want to learn some of the basics, so familiarising yourself with UCAS is a great starting point.

Here are some key facts you should know about UCAS and the UCAS application process.

  • UCAS stands for Universities and Colleges Admissions Services - a centralised service that acts as the middleman between applicants and universities. 
  • All applications for undergraduate (first degree) courses should be submitted via UCAS as opposed to directly to the University.
  • All applications are completed electronically via the UCAS website.
  • There are seven sections to the application: 
    • Personal details
    • Options
    • Education
    • Employment
    • Personal statement
    • Final details 
    • Pay and Send
  • Progress of the application can be saved so there is no need to complete it all in one go. It is important that applicants take their time with this process.
  • Students can complete the UCAS application entirely through the medium of Welsh.
  • Students have a maximum of five course options – these could be five courses at five different universities, or an application can be made for different courses at the same university. When selecting their choices, there is no need to rate them in order of preference. All universities will only see the application made to them and will not see where else the student has applied.
  • In the Personal Details section, applicants have the opportunity to state whether they have individual needs such as support for a disability. Identifying their needs will ensure that universities are able to make specific arrangements to support them throughout the application process and beyond, so it is important that disabilities are declared.
  • The section that will take the longest to complete is the Personal Statement. This is also the most important part of the application as it is an opportunity for the applicant to tell the universities why they deserve a space on the course.
  • The official deadline for the UCAS application is always January 15 (October 15 for Oxford or Cambridge, or Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary Medicine/Science). However, schools and colleges usually set internal deadlines as they will need time to attach a reference to the student’s application so make sure that the applicant is aware of this deadline.