Now that you've made the decision to go to university in 2023/24, discover how to apply and ensure everything is on track for meeting the UCAS application deadline

Once you've weighed up all the information available, attended university open days (either in person or virtually) and discussed your degree options with friends, family, course tutors and college careers advisers, you're ready to begin the application process for 2023 entry.

Registering with UCAS

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) is the central organisation responsible for processing applications for full-time undergraduate study at UK universities.

You can either register and complete your application using the UCAS online system or do it through your school or college and they'll send it to UCAS on your behalf. However, with the latter it's important to confirm the deadline, as it may be earlier than the one set by UCAS.

Alternatively, if you've already left college, or you're an international student looking to study in the UK, you'll need to register with UCAS as an individual and apply through their online system, while adhering to the timeframe set out below.

Applying for university through UCAS

Online applications for full-time undergraduate study are made by visiting the UCAS Hub. From this page, you'll be able to start, continue and track your application. You can also get help with filling in your UCAS application form.

When applying, you can select up to five courses at different universities. However, you can only apply once in a cycle.

UCAS deadline 2023

The deadline for all 2023 applications to be received by UCAS is Friday 30 June 2023.

The 2023 UCAS application fee is £22.50 for a single choice, rising to £27 for two choices or more.

Your college may collect the payment for entry, or they could ask you to pay UCAS directly.

Before the application deadline you'll need to have:

  • filled in all your details, qualifications and courses selected
  • written your personal statement - see personal statements for university applications
  • included a written reference from a teacher or professional who knows you academically
  • paid your UCAS application fee.

University entry requirements

Institutions set their own entry requirements based on the subject and the demands of the specific course to ensure that the students who make it through the selection process have the necessary knowledge and skills.

They typically consider:

  • your previous qualifications, subjects and grades - typically A-levels as well your GCSE results
  • whether you're the right fit for the course - based on your experience, interests and skills
  • how well you perform at a university interview
  • any other information - for example, health or Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks.

It's important to be aware that course providers don't immediately dismiss those that fall short of their exact requirements, so you may still receive an offer for a place on a course if you don't quite achieve your predicted grades.

UCAS Tariff points system

While institutions do ask for grades in certain subjects at A-level (or equivalent) as part of their course entry requirements, they may also request a particular amount of UCAS Tariff points.

Although this system is optional, it is often used by admissions staff to compare applicants.

A-level and Advanced VCE gradeTariff points
Tariff points for A-level qualifications since 2001

UCAS application deadlines

Here are the key dates for courses starting in 2023:

  • 25 January 2023 - Applications for most courses to be received by UCAS.
  • 23 February 2023 - Extra opens.
  • 18 May 2023 - university/college decisions due on applications submitted by 25 January 2023.
  • 30 June 2023 - all applications received after this date will enter into Clearing.
  • 4 July 2023 - last date to apply in Extra for 2023 entry.
  • 5 July 2023 - Clearing opens.
  • 12 July 2023 - university/college decisions due on applications submitted by 30 June 2023.
  • 8 August 2023 - SQA results day.
  • 17 August 2023 - A-level results day 2023.
  • 21 September 2023 - final application deadline for 2023 entry.
  • 17 October 2023 - deadline for Clearing choices to be added.

Applicants who have used all five choices but are not holding any offers (or have declined those received) may consider the UCAS Extra service, allowing you to add one more choice.

If you've choices remaining from the five available, you may be able to enter more using UCAS Hub. However, this will incur a further application fee and it needs to be done before the final UCAS deadline. You can't use this feature if you've already accepted or declined your offers.

Tracking your application

Once your application has been sent and you've received a welcome email, you can follow its progress by logging into UCAS Hub. To use this online system, simply sign in with your personal ID and password.

You'll then be able to find out if you have any offers for a place on a course or receive an invitation to attend an interview. You can also respond to any offers you receive from your chosen universities.

Don't worry about missing out on important updates, as you'll be notified by email of any changes to your application. You may not see much activity at first, as it can take months to receive verdicts.

While there are some things that can still be changed, including swapping choices, you'll need to be aware of the timescales involved.

Applying directly to the university

If you choose to study part time or are interested in distance learning, you'll need to contact the university directly to apply, although you can still search for courses on the UCAS website between July and September.

The application process is also a lot shorter, so you don't need to find a course as far in advance. Exact deadlines are set by individual course providers.

International students will still apply through UCAS but you may need to send your proof of qualifications directly to the university. Speak to your chosen institution to find out their policy on receiving results.

Getting offers

It can take months before you start receiving offers, but when a university makes an offer, you'll receive a notification email (as long as you're set up in UCAS Hub). You can then log in and view the offer.

The four offer types are:

  • Conditional - you'll still need to meet the entry requirements, typically your A-level results.
  • Unconditional - you've been allocated a place on the course, but a few things may still need to be arranged. For example, you may need to get a DBS check, provide proof of your qualifications or meet other medical or financial requirements.
  • Unsuccessful - the university has made the decision not to offer you a place on their course. You may or may not be given a reason.
  • Withdrawn - either you or the university chooses to withdraw a course choice. In these circumstances, you should receive an explanation from the university through UCAS.

Instead of simply making you an offer, universities might invite you to an interview or audition. You'll find out about this through UCAS Hub.

Once all your UCAS offers are in, you'll have to make a decision and respond by the deadline. You can:

  • pick a firm choice, your preferred option
  • select an insurance choice as back-up, if your firm choice is conditional
  • decline the other offers.

You may choose to decline all the offers, adding more courses through the UCAS Extra service.

If you have a conditional place on a course, your status will be updated by the university once they've received your grades/exam results.

After you've been firmly accepted by a university, you'll receive details from the institution about what to do next.

Student finance

As soon as you've sent your application, you can begin to look for ways to fund your study.

There are various options available, including tuition fee loans, maintenance loans and non-repayable grants. Eligibility will usually depend on where in the UK you live.

For more information on the types of funding available, see student loans and finance.

Results day and Clearing

If you've received offers which are conditional on your exam results, A-level results day becomes even more crucial. For those looking to go to university in 2023, this day falls on Thursday 17 August 2023.

In most cases, exam results are sent directly from UCAS to your various choices.

All's not lost if you didn't receive any offers or you didn't get the grades you hoped for, as Clearing has been set up for universities and colleges to fill any remaining course vacancies. You can use the regularly updated UCAS search tool to find suitable courses.

Find out more

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