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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

A guide to higher education admissions through UCAS

There are six steps to follow when you’re looking to get a university or college place through UCAS.

Step one: applying for a place

Apply now for 2012/13 courses

You can apply through UCAS for courses starting from September 2012 now. Make sure you apply by the deadlines

You usually apply in the academic year before you plan to go to college. The earliest you can submit a finished application is the September before you want to start your course (unless you are applying to defer your place until the following year).

If you haven’t done your exams by this stage, your application will be based on the grades your teachers or lecturers predict you will achieve.

To find out how to apply, and about the deadlines you’ll need to meet, see ‘Completing your UCAS application’.

Step two: interviews

Once you’ve applied to UCAS, your application gets passed to the institutions you've chosen.

Each university or college has its own application procedure. Some may ask you to come for interview and you may also be asked to take a test. Others may offer you a place based on the information on your application.

Step three: applying for financial help

It's best to apply for finance as soon as possible

Once you've made your UCAS application, you can apply for financial help as soon as student finance applications open. You don't need to wait for an offer.

To find out how much you could get, and how to apply online, see the 'Student finance' section.

Step four: getting an offer

If you submit your UCAS application by the relevant deadline, you will usually receive offers from your universities by the end of March - although for popular courses, you may not hear until May.

If you get an offer from a place you haven’t visited, an open day could help you decide whether you want to study there.

If you don't get an offer

If you don’t get an offer from the universities or colleges on your list, or you turn down or cancel your choices, the UCAS Extra service could give you a second chance to secure a place.

If you don’t get an offer through Extra, you can go through the Clearing system, where universities and colleges advertise - and fill - late course vacancies.

Step five: accepting an offer

Offers will either be conditional (dependent on getting certain grades on your current course) or unconditional (if you already have the qualifications required).

If you haven’t done your exams yet, you can accept one offer firmly and another as an ‘insurance’ back-up.

Step six: getting your results

If you get the grades you need for a conditional offer, your university or college will confirm your place. UCAS will send you a formal letter of confirmation.

If your results are better than expected

If you not only meet all the conditions of your firm choice, but also exceed them (for example, by getting higher grades than you need), you can use ‘Adjustment’ to look at other options.

‘Adjustment’ is a new service that lets you search for other courses for a short time while holding on to your original confirmed place.

You register for ‘Adjustment’ using the Track service on the UCAS website.

If you don’t get the grades you need

If you don't get the grades to meet your conditional firm offer, your university or college may not be able to accept you. If this happens, your insurance choice may offer you a place. If not, then you have another chance to get a place through the Clearing system.

When you’ve got your place

Once your place is sorted, you can start preparing for student life.

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