UK university applications for 2021 open this week!

This week UCAS (which coordinates applications to study at UK universities) opens its undergraduate applications for 2021 entry.

Whilst you have plenty of time to prepare your application (the first deadlines are in October and the majority of students submit applications by mid-January), it's worth starting to prepare as soon as you can.

What should you be doing now?

The first thing to do is work out which universities you would like to apply to. There are many things to consider:

  • which universities are strong in your preferred subject?
  • what your current or expected qualification level is and how does that match entry requirements?
  • are you prepared to undertake a foundation year if necessary to get into your chosen university?
  • what are your personal preferences for where to study e.g. quiet campus, busy city, near London etc?
  • what is your budget for living costs and fees and how will you fund your studies?

You should also develop a plan for what you would do if you don't get any offers from your top five universities. Are you happy to undertake a foundation course to get into your top choice or are you happy to look at alternative universities through UCAS clearing for example? If you get more than one offer which will you choose?


Once you've decided where you want to study you need to start preparing your applications. Through UCAS you can apply initially to up to 5 universities. Think carefully about your choices and add a mix of 'stretch targets' and more 'comfortable options'. Don't aim for universities where you clearly don't have the grades (as this potentially wastes your choices) but, at the same time, don't aim too low simply to get a 'guaranteed place'.


Apart from choosing where to study the most challenging aspect of the UCAS application is your personal statement. This needs to be drafted with care as it is often the one chance you will have to highlight why universities should offer you a place. You need to think about your skills and experience to date, your interest in the subject, and explain why you wish to study in the UK.


The personal statement must be your own work but we recommend working closely with someone who knows the UK higher education system well to help you structure what you write.  Our advisers can help you structure your application, make constructive suggestions and proofread it to ensure there are no grammar or spelling mistakes and that the English is fluent and readable. 


Once you are happy with your university choices and personal statement (and have completed all the relevant sections of the online UCAS application) you are ready to submit!


The good thing about the UCAS system is that it coordinates your applications. So with one submission you are able to apply to your top five universities and track the decisions (acceptances and rejections) from each university as they happen. You also get a chance to add extra choices later on if none of your preferred universities offer you a place.


Some universities may offer you an interview to determine your suitability for the course. This may be done in your home country, virtually or in the UK. Not all universities will require you to attend an interview but if you do be sure to prepare well. Research the university and course well and where possible speak to a current student or graduate about the process. Again our team of advisers is happy to help you to prepare.


Deadlines for applications vary: applications for Oxford, Cambridge and medicine submitted by October 15th and the rest by early 2021.


If you would like to talk about your university options e-mail our team for a free consultation today!

Rachel Burgon
Co-Founder & CEO
Published on 18 May 2020