Application to University - The Procedure
The overwhelming majority of our Sixth Form students wish, on completion of their A levels, to take part in undergraduate level study at university. Students apply through UCAS for admission to a university course. They will apply for up to five university courses and hope to obtain ‘conditional offers’ that require them to gain certain grades, or an A level ‘points total’, as a condition for entry. Some universities also require students to take additional tests, too.
Q: What is UCAS?
A: The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service is an organisation that essentially acts as a ‘middle-man’; applicants complete information for UCAS and it is then sent on to the universities the individual has applied to. The universities update UCAS about the status of each application, and UCAS passes this information back to the individual.
Q: How are students introduced to the UCAS process?
A: Students are introduced to: http://www.ucas.ac.uk/students/apply during the What Next? programme in the summer term of Year 12. A vast amount of information is available, ranging from course and university information to a Parent Guide and UCAS TV.
Q: What about university finance?
A: An evening event is normally planned to give information about applying for HE loans and grants. There is much anxiety about the repayment of loans and fees; a student entering work after graduation and earning the average salary would expect to pay, per month, about the same amount of money as they would spend on a mobile ‘phone contract.
Q: What about Open Days?
A: Advice on attending Open Days is given during the What Next? programme in the summer term of Year 12. Students are encouraged to visit those universities to which they are considering submitting an application before the end of Year 12 – and, where possible, outside of school time so as to minimise the number of lessons that they miss.
Q: What about students who need to make an early application through UCAS?
A: Students applying for courses, such as medicine and veterinary medicine– including those at Oxford or Cambridge - that require an early application are informed of this, as are students who will be required to take other entry exams, for example, BMAT, UKCAT.
Q: What happens once students join Year 13 come September of their final year?
A: Once students return to school for their final year in September they are encouraged to complete their applications. Once the grade predictions are set, and subject teachers have discussed the advisability of any re-sits, we shall write to each student setting out both their UCAS predicted grades and any re-sit suggestions. We will make every effort to ensure that this information is sent to students before the end of the second week of Term One. If for any reason a student wishes to appeal their predicted grade, they must write a letter of appeal to their Head of Year, stating the reasons as to why they are appealing and how they can achieve the predicted grade they desire.
Q: What about references?
A: The school provides a reference which is sent with the UCAS form. References are compiled by Form Tutors, based on subject information; they contain information about the student’s wider interests and contributions to school life as these things are important to the universities. All references are read and checked by the Head of Year. Students are allowed to see their references before the UCAS form is sent, but – correction of factual errors aside – the school will not alter its judgements in response to pressure from students or their parents.
Q: What happens when a UCAS application is sent off?
A: When it is completed, the student will sign a statement that indicates their permission for the school to send the application. The entire application will be checked by the Head of Year and can be returned to the student, or indeed staff, for further ammendment before submission to UCAS.
Q: What happens when all the universities have applied and students are holding offers?
A: Students will be provided with information so that they can track their applications electronically. Once all offers have been received a student must make a decision about their Firm and Insurance offer. Offers are usually made subject to certain criteria, normally grades or points at A level. A student who is rejected from a university may be able to use UCAS Extra in the spring. This process allows a student to add choices to their application. Replies to universities should be made by the deadline date as stated by UCAS. Failure to reply to the University by the stated date will result in the student loosing that offer.
Q: When will a student know if they have their firm or insurance offer confirmed?
A: Students may be notified before results day in August, if they have successfully gained a place. This is because the universities are sent the results shortly before the students receive them! On Results Day, staff will contact students early in the day, if they are concerned that individual may not have met the criteria for entry to their firm or insurance university course.
Q: What is ‘clearing’ and when does it start?
A: On Results Day, the UCAS website changes to give clearing information (details of all courses still available). Universities should be contacted by the student, at this stage, to discuss eligibility, exam grades etc. Additionally, if a student has achieved higher grades than expected and wishes to apply for alternative course, this option is available to go through adjustment. Students who have done far better than predicted may withdraw from the UCAS process and re-apply the following year – giving their actual, as opposed to predicted, grades this time!