Understanding the UCAS System and Entry Requirements for Universities in the UK
Confused by the application process and entry requirements for universities in the UK? Find out how you can get started with our guide to the UCAS system.
As you research the entry requirements for universities in the UK, you will probably notice that a lot of institutions mention ‘UCAS applications,’ along with a list of required grades, deadlines, and forms that need to be filled out.
For international students who are unfamiliar with the UK education system, this can be confusing, as you struggle to understand exactly how the process works. Fortunately, it is not as complicated as it looks, and with a little research, you can easily figure out what you need to do to apply to your chosen university.
What is UCAS? An Introduction for Foundation Course Students
The Universities and Colleges Admissions Services (UCAS) is a centralised body which handles all applications for higher education institutions in the UK. The system is designed to make the process easier for students, allowing them to make all of their applications at once, instead of applying to each university separately.
Using the online application form on the UCAS website, students can select up to five programmes they would like to apply for. They must also provide a personal statement, a reference, and the predicted final grades from their pre-university programme.
Universities issue conditional offers to students after receiving UCAS applications
Universities will then make conditional offers to students based on their application. From the offers you receive, you can select one ‘firm’ offer as your first choice and a ‘backup’ offer in case you do not earn the grades you need in your final results. You can also make a late application during the ‘clearing’ period after results are released, when universities look to fill any vacant spots in their programmes.
How Foundation Courses in the UK are Scored in the UCAS System
UCAS use a system known as a tariff for applications, which awards points to students based on their grades. This allows them to compare students applying from different pre-university pathways and countries, ensuring the process is as fair as possible.
Foundation courses in the UK are the equivalent of A-level standard, meaning your results in each subject should be seen as the same as an A-level grade by British universities.
Up until this year, this is how many UCAS tariff points each A level grade was worth:
- A* Grade= 140 points
- A Grade= 120 points
- B Grade= 100 points
- C Grade= 80 points
- D Grade= 60 points
- E Grade= 40 points
However, UCAS recently revised their tariff system, meaning that any applications for courses starting in September 2017 or later will be assessed using a new scoring system:
- A* Grade= 56 points
- A Grade= 48 points
- B Grade= 40 points
- C Grade= 32 points
- D Grade= 24 points
- E Grade= 16 points
Some programmes will also require you to achieve a certain grade in particular subjects to ensure you have the specialised knowledge needed for that area of study. Certain universities also have additional requirements, such as interviews and entrance exams.
The UCAS Personal Statement: Tips for Students Looking to Study in the UK
If you are looking to apply to universities through UCAS, keep in mind that your personal statement can make all the difference to your application. It should be well-written, show a clear interest in your chosen subject area, and give university admissions officers a sense of who you are and why you want to study in the UK.
Your personal tutor and other support staff will have a good idea of what universities look for, and will be happy to help you with your personal statement and any other part of your UCAS application. The UCAS Website is also full of useful articles and resources to help you get started, including specific information for international students.
Ask your personal tutor for help with your UCAS application
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