As a parent, guardian, or someone with caring responsibilities, we know you are likely to be an important and trusted source of information and advice for your young person.
Because of this, we have created this webpage to give you the information you need to help guide and support a young person applying to study at university or college, through their decision-making and the UCAS application process.
We've broken this down in to key sections below. If you need help or advice, feel free to contact us to find out more.
Before your young person starts their application, there’s a lot to consider. There are over 35,000 undergraduate courses to choose from, young people can make five choices when applying to study for a higher education course so research is really important prior to starting an application.
At this stage conversations about subject choice, distance from home and the study environment are really useful. Some young people are looking for a higher education experience in a small setting with small class sizes, such as a college, whilst others may be hoping for a large university experience. Ask them to consider their needs and to be realistic about the implications of their choices.
You can use the UCAS search tool (ucas.com/search) to find and shortlist undergraduate courses at universities and colleges. Each search result lists a summary of the course, how and when to apply, fees and finances associated with the course, and information on the entry requirements the course provider is looking for. It’s also worth considering attending UCAS Exhibitions and university and college open days.
UCAS exhibitions are the perfect opportunity to meet universities, colleges, other course providers, and UCAS in person, get your questions answered, and find out what’s available. They’re free and take place all across the UK, so there’s bound to be one near you – go to ucas.com/ exhibitions to find and book a place at your local event.
University and college open days give you the chance to look around, meet staff and students, and see if your young person would be happy living and studying there. They’re great for giving you peace of mind that wherever they end up studying, you know they will be in a familiar place they’re comfortable with.
Lincoln College Open Days provide a great opportunity to find out about the higher education courses they offer, the dates can be found here
Unibuddy is also a useful research tool which enables prospective students to chat with current students and provides the opportunity to gain valuable insight into what life is really like at university or college. Whether it’s location, course content, or how close the nearest shopping centre is that has your young person undecided, they can now talk directly with current undergraduates to get the answers.
What is UCAS?
UCAS is the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. It is an independent charity, and the UK's shared admissions service for higher education, all full time applications for courses at universities and colleges are made through UCAS and not directly to the course provider.
The UCAS Hub provides applicants to higher education with all the tools and information they need. Potential applicants can explore subjects, shortlist their final five choices, and get help with writing a great personal statement.
Deadlines and Key Dates
- 6 September: Completed applications can be paid for and sent to UCAS. Applications can’t be sent until all sections are complete, the reference is added, and the application fee has been paid.
- 15 October (18:00 UK time): Deadline for applications to the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and for most courses in medicine, dentistry, and veterinary medicine/science. An application can still be sent after this date, but the universities and colleges concerned cannot guarantee they’ll give it equal consideration.
- 25 January (18:00 UK time): Deadline for most undergraduate courses. An application can still be sent after this date, but the universities and colleges concerned cannot guarantee they’ll give it equal consideration.
- 30 June (18:00 UK time): Last date for receipt of applications with choices. Applications received after this deadline are automatically entered into Clearing.
- 5 July: Clearing opens, and vacancies are shown in the UCAS search tool.
Entry Requirements/UCAS Tariff
Entry requirements are set by course providers, as a guideline of the academic ability students will need, and are usually a mix of qualifications, subjects, and/or exam grades.
- It’s really important your young person understands the entry requirements for courses they’re interested in, so they can make fully informed choices about courses that are right for them.
- Some university and college entry requirements will be based on Tariff points. The UCAS Tariff is used by universities and colleges to make broad comparisons between qualifications used for entry to higher education. Tariff points are allocated to a wide range of qualifications, normally for Level 3 qualifications, and can be added together to give an overall Tariff score.
You can calculate UCAS points here
Once your young person has chosen the courses that interest them most, it’s time to start their application.
First, they’ll need to register in the UCAS Hub – it only takes about five minutes to enter their basic details and set up security information. Once registration is complete they will need to work through the various sections of the application. Your young person can fill in their application at any time, saving their progress as they go. They can go back and edit it until they’re happy it’s complete.
If your young person is applying through a school or college, pressing ‘Send’ on their application sends it to their current provider, not directly to UCAS. Once they’ve completed their application, there’s still a lot for their school or college to do. Applications are checked to make sure all sections have been filled in correctly and references are added. If your young person is at college it is important that they let their tutor know that they have completed their UCAS application and ask them to check it, add the reference and send it. Once this process is complete the application will be received by UCAS.
Your young person may find writing their personal statement the most difficult part of the application process. It’s important to remember that only one personal statement is written and sent to all of the choices made in the application, it’s not possible to write an individual personal statement for each choice.
To get started, encourage them to think about what makes them interesting, and what makes them stand out in a positive way. The personal statement is an opportunity to show universities and colleges that the applicant will make a committed and enthusiastic student.
There are four key parts to a good personal statement:
First part – a punchy opening paragraph, showing their excitement for and understanding of the course. What makes them want to study it over any other course?
Middle part – evidence to support their interest in the course. They should include why it interests them, why they’re suitable (relevant skills, work experience, and inspirational moments will all sit here), and any activities they’ve taken part in that demonstrate their interest in the course or subject area.
Final part – this is where they write about themselves, what they’re interested in, and how well they will fit in to university life. This could include achievements they’re proud of, positions of responsibility they’ve held, and attributes that make them interesting.
Closing paragraph – a concise statement which leaves the reader with a clear understanding of why they are perfect for the course.
A good personal statement:
- is relevant and focused – it’s only 4,000 characters
- uses clear, plain English
- avoids clichés
- is original – UCAS’ software scans all personal statements for plagiarism
- is redrafted multiple times until it’s right
What Happens Once UCAS Receive Their Application?
What Happens Once UCAS Receive Their Application?
1. Your young person’s personal statement is checked to make sure it has not been copied, then all the information in their application is processed. This can take up to 48 hours.
2. They will then be sent a welcome email when the checks are complete. This explains how to check the progress of their application, and contains their Personal ID, which they’ll need to sign in.
3. At the same time, the application is sent to their chosen universities and colleges. Universities won’t know where else they’ve applied.
4. As soon as universities let UCAS know about an interview, audition, test, or decision, your young person will receive an email so they know to check their application.
If they accept a conditional offer as their firm choice, they are committed to taking up the place if they meet the conditions.
An unconditional offer means the place is theirs if they want it. If they accept an unconditional offer as their firm choice, they are committed to taking up the place, regardless of what grades they get.
An unsuccessful application means the university has decided not to offer them a place.
A withdrawn application means the choice has been withdrawn, either by your young person, or by the university. If the university has done this, they’ll let your young person know why.
Once all the decisions are in, your young person has to reply to offers by a specific deadline which depends on when they received the last decision.
- Select a firm choice - Once a firm choice is made, they are committed to that course at that university or college.
- Select an insurance choice - It makes sense for the insurance choice to have less demanding conditions than the firm choice. The insurance choice has the same level of commitment as a firm choice, but only comes into play if your young person doesn’t meet the conditions of their firm choice.
- Decline any other offers
Results day can be stressful, so make sure your young person knows how it works and what to expect:
- UCAS receives exam results, matches them to applicants, and makes them available to universities and colleges.
- Universities and colleges then check the offer details and confirm if the conditions have been met.
- If the university has confirmed their place, this will be shown clearly in their application.
Clearing is a chance for young people to look for a place if they don’t have one after they get their exam results.
It’s also the final chance for universities and colleges to fill any places they still have available. To look for a Clearing place, your young person must be eligible. This means that either:
- they have no offers
- their firm and insurance choices have made them unsuccessful
- they applied after 30 June 2023
they’ve declined their firm place using the ‘decline my place’ button in their application
Lincoln College University Centre Clearing page has more information about our Clearing offer:
One of the biggest concerns for students and their parents is the cost of university.
Your young person will typically pay up to £9,250 per year in tuition fees as a UK student. Fees don’t need to be paid upfront. Students can apply for a Tuition Fee Loan to cover all or part of their fees.
The second loan they can apply for is the Maintenance Loan, to help towards living expenses while at university, such as accommodation, food, and course materials. The amount they’re eligible to borrow depends on several factors, including where they will be living during term time and your household income. You’ll need to declare this information to receive the maximum amount available.
There may be extra support available in certain circumstances
- Scholarships and bursaries – offered on the basis of academic ability, your income, or for other reasons (for example, if your young person has a disability).
- Fee waivers – these reduce tuition fees, either on their own, or in a broader package of support with a bursary.
- Hardship funds – these can help if your young person is struggling financially, either before or during uni.
- Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) – if your young person has a disability, including a long-term health condition, mental health condition, or specific learning difficulty, such as dyslexia they might be able to get funds to cover extra costs.
Further information on student finance can be found here
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