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Applying for undergraduate study

UCAS is a good place to start if you need advice and information on any aspect of where, what and how to study at an HE level in the UK

UCAS’s main role is to process applications to UK universities and colleges for full-time and sandwich undergraduate courses: first degrees, foundation degrees, Higher National Diplomas (HNDs), university diplomas, Higher National Certificates (HNCs), Certificates of Higher Education (Cert HEs) and Diplomas of Higher Education (Dip HEs). UCAS does not make decisions on your application – such decisions are made by the institutions to which you apply – but handles the administration so that you only have to make one application, although you may be applying for more than one course.

You can apply either directly as an individual or via a school, college or other organisation to up to five different courses through Apply, UCAS’s secure online application service. There are exceptions to this number that are explained more fully on the UCAS website.

UCAS also provides extensive support through online tools, information and guidance.

UCAS deadlines for 2019 entry

Applying through UCAS

There are two main deadlines each year that all international applicants need to be aware of (these are the dates for 2019 entry):

  • 15 October 2018 (by 18.00 UK time): Application deadline for most medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine and veterinary science courses, and for all courses at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. The reference has to be completed before the application can be sent to UCAS.
  • 15 January 2019 (by 18.00 UK time): Application deadline for most courses except those listed above and below (check course details for the correct deadline). The reference has to be completed before the application can be sent to UCAS.

These dates may differ slightly year on year so you should check with the UCAS website what the precise deadlines will be for the year you wish to start your studies in.

If you are planning on starting your course in the UK in 2015, the various deadlines for entry are as follows

  • 22 May 2018: UCAS Undergraduate Apply opens for 2019 entry.
  • 5 September 2018: Applicants can pay and send their applications to UCAS, and unis and colleges can start making decisions on applications.
  • 15 October 2018 (by 18.00 UK time): application deadline for most medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine and veterinary science courses and for all courses at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. The reference has to be completed before the application can be sent to UCAS.
  • 15 January 2019 (by 18.00 UK time): application deadline for most courses, except those with a 15 October deadline (check course details for the correct deadline). The reference has to be completed before the application can be sent to UCAS.
  • 25 February 2019: if you are eligible to use Extra, you can refer yourself to another choice.
  • 30 June 2019 (by 18.00 UK time): if you send your application to UCAS by this date, it will send it to your chosen universities and colleges. If your application is received after this date, you’ll be entered into Clearing.
  • 4 July 2019: this is the last date to apply through Extra.
  • 31 August 2019: deadline for remaining conditions to be met otherwise your institution may not accept you. Adjustment closes.
  • 20 September 2019 (by 18.00 UK time): last date that UCAS will accept applications for courses starting in 2019.
  • 30 September 2015: Clearing vacancy search ends. Clearing choices can still be added in Track but contact institutions to discuss vacancies beforehand.
  • 22 October 2019: last date to add a Clearing choice. Also the last date a university or college can accept an applicant in Clearing.

If you are applying for a performing arts (music, dance or drama) course at a UK conservatoire it is likely you will have to apply for a place through UCAS Conservatoires. Visit the UCAS Conservatoires website for more information and details of how and when to apply.

Non-EU students

When applying through UCAS, international applicants are divided into those who live in European Union (EU) member countries and those who live in countries outside the EU. This is because educational institutions funded by the UK government are required to limit the numbers they accept of students from the UK or elsewhere in the EU, while there is currently no limit on the number of students from outside the UK or EU they can accept. This can have implications for the availability of course places to non-EU students after application deadlines have passed, and can mean more flexibility in their applications.

All applications received by the relevant deadlines are guaranteed to be considered by the institutions that have been applied to. Many HE institutions will consider applications from non-EU international students received after the deadlines, up to 30 June (this however does not apply to those courses with an October application deadline), although they cannot guarantee this. It will all depend on whether there are still vacancies on the courses being applied to. Popular courses tend to fill up quickly and not have vacancies after this deadline. Therefore, you must check which deadlines apply to your chosen courses and make sure you apply by then.

EU students

If you come from an EU member state and want to study at a UK HE institution in a particular year you will be treated the same as students from the UK itself and the same deadlines will apply (see above). You will therefore need to have applied by mid-January of that year to ensure equal consideration for most programmes (except those with an October or March deadline as outlined above). Again, the most popular courses are usually oversubscribed, so get your application in as soon as possible and before the deadline.

All international students


  • that you will need a reference, written in English, by one of your tutors, teachers or someone who can comment with authority on how likely you are to succeed in your chosen area of study
  • that applying early will increase your chances of getting a place
  • that completing your application well in advance of deadlines will give you time to double-check your application, deal with any queries and give your referees enough time to make a considered statement
  • to allow sufficient time for entry clearance or immigration procedures, plus any travel or accommodation arrangements that might be necessary
  • that if your application is late, it is at the institution’s discretion whether to consider it or not, and you will be expected to explain why it has been delayed
  • that if you are not accepted by any institution, you can apply through a service called ‘Clearing’ in August and September to find a place on courses, which are not full; any applications received on or after 1 July will be automatically entered into Clearing
  • when your application is accepted, you will receive a formal letter of acceptance, which you will need for visa purposes, known as the ‘Visa letter’ (see the student visas section for more).

If you are offered and accept a place, the university or college will contact you and send all the information you need about coming to the UK and starting your programme of study.

Check the UCAS website for the exact dates and latest information for each year.


If applying to more than one course or institution, applicants will have to pay UCAS £24 when making their application for 2019 entry. If it is to only one course at an institution, UCAS’s application fee is £18. Applications received after 30 June 2015 will cost £23 because these will be entered into Clearing. Applicants can either pay through their school, college or other centre or pay UCAS directly.

Other routes

  • Some institutions may also accept direct applications to their first-degree programmes. Check with their Admissions Offices.
  • If the institution you wish to study at is privately funded and does not receive money from the UK government, you should apply directly. Go to its website or prospectus to find out more about application procedures.

Some tips for applying for undergraduate study in the UK:

1 Find out as much information as possible about individual institutions through websites and prospectuses.

2 Draw up a shortlist of preferred universities.

3 Prepare well in advance of the starting date. Many UK applicants start preparing for application in the June of the year prior to entry. Applications are accepted from mid-September.

4 Ask someone suitable to be your academic referee and remind them that the deadline for applications applies to references as well.

5 Read and understand the UCAS instructions for applying; many applicants have their application delayed because they have made elementary mistakes on their application form.

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