How Does it Work?
At the start of A1, each student is assigned to a UCAS tutor. Up until the end of Semester One, all students (except those who are planning to leave at the end of A1) will attend weekly tutorials with their tutor. Once Semester Two starts, a student has the choice to leave the UCAS program if they are certain they do not want to apply. This choice needs careful thought and written verification, especially from parents, and a student needs to realize that a change of mind after this point will make things difficult.
Starting in November of the A1 year, the tutor will guide their tutees through a program of choosing and researching courses and universities, writing the personal statement, and eventually completing the application. The personal statement outlines a student’s interests, experiences, and reasons for wanting to do a particular course. One of the final parts of the process is that the tutor writes the UCAS reference, making good use of information gathered from subject teachers.
At the beginning of A2, each student who wishes to apply will register online. During the period up until the end of October, they will be assisted through the online application process by their tutor. By this stage, SCIE aims to have all online applications completed. As a general rule, applications finally close with UCAS on January 15.
What about Oxford and Cambridge?
Students who are potential Oxbridge (Oxford or Cambridge) applicants are identified early in A1 and undertake extra training and tutoring. The application needs to be submitted by 15 October of the A2 year. Applications to either place are done online (with Cambridge having an extra “paper form”), and the choice for an Oxbridge course is one of the five UCAS choices. Applications can be made to any of the colleges, or a student can make an open application (to any available college). Apart from the online application and Cambridge form, other work (such as practical portfolios) and tests may be required.
Do students have to apply earlier for anything else?
Students who are applying for Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Science or Veterinary medicine also need apply by 15 October. They are only allowed to apply for four medical courses. Some universities are setting written tests for applicants because so many students gain straight 'A' grades at A Level.
The rest of this section gives more detail on the UCAS application process.
How do the universities receive the information?
Once UCAS has received an application, they send an acknowledgement to the student via email, letter or text message. After UCAS receives the applications, they are distributed separately to each university. Students can track the progress of their application and details of any offers via the online “TRACK”.
What happens if a student still wants to apply after January 15th?
This is possible, but places may be very limited. In theory, applications are accepted up to 30th June, and after that date they have to go through Clearing. SCIE encourages students to apply early.
What happens once the applications have been received by the universities?
Universities contact the student and either make them an offer, which will generally be “conditional”. This means that the offer is dependent on the student achieving the required grades in the offer, plus any other specified requirements.
How soon will the student receive all the offers?
This can vary tremendously. Some students, especially if they apply early, may have all their offers by Christmas, whereas others may still be waiting for one in May. This can be quite stressful, especially if it is the place where the student really wants to go!
What does the student do when they have received the offers?
Students make the decision about their first and insurance choices. They are given a date by which their decision must be confirmed to UCAS. If they change their mind within 14 days, they tell UCAS. If they change their mind after this, they have to contact the universities themselves. If they fail to inform UCAS by the date which UCAS have given them, they could lose the offers, so this is an important deadline.
What should a student do if they receive no offers?
If you have applied through UCAS, used all five choices on your application and aren't holding any offers, you might be able to apply through Extra for another course. Using Extra, you can apply for any course with vacancies. Extra is open between the end of February and the end of June. In Extra, you apply for one course at a time using “Track”.
To use Extra you need to have already made five choices, received decisions from all these choices, and either had no offers or declined all the offers you have received.
If you decline your offers and add an Extra choice, you will not be able to accept any of your original choices later.
Additionally, if a student did not apply for five places on the original application, they can 'activate' the unused places.
What if the student does not get the grades necessary for their choice of course?
If a student has only missed the grade offer by a small number of points, the university may still make them an offer, or suggest an alternative course. If this is not the case, the student is offered a place at their insurance choice, assuming that they have met the requirements. If the student is not able to do this, they then need to go through 'Clearing' (a process where all available places which are still left at any universities are advertised on UCAS at a certain time).
It may also possible to “negotiate” with the university if the required grades were missed by only a small amount.
What if the student does far better than expected, and exceeds the conditions of their “firm offer”?
The student can undertake a process called “Adjustment” where they have up to five days to research alternative courses, and register their intention via “Track”. They approach the university concerned and explore what places are available, after which the university may or may not offer them a place dependent on availability.