The Application Process

There are many different types of higher education course that young people can to apply to and we’ve written about these here. As there are so many higher education options there are various ways to apply depending on the course type and the institution.

The majority of applications to higher education courses are managed by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Students complete one application on the UCAS website which is then sent to their individual institution choices. Some courses at some institutions take applications directly through their own websites, so it is worth checking beforehand. The UCAS application cycle spans an entire academic year and is as follows:



22nd May

UCAS apply website is live.

5th September

UCAS begins accepting applications.

15th October

Early deadline for applications to medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine and Oxbridge (all courses at universities of Oxford and Cambridge).

15th January

Deadline for most other courses.

25th February

UCAS Extra opens

1st May

Deadline for replying to offers made before 31st March

6th June

Deadline for replying to offers made before 2nd May

30th June

Applications made after this date are entered directly into clearing

4th July

Deadline for applications to UCAS extra

5th July

Clearing opens

15th August

Adjustment opens


Steps to Applying:

  1. Register

Your child will need to register and create an account with UCAS. They will be given a buzzword by their school or college to enable them to create an account.

       2. Fill in the sections of the application form

  • Personal Details

Your child will need to include their personal information, funding and sponsorship information, details of any additional needs and any criminal convictions. They can nominate you to have access to the account to allow you to speak on their behalf.

  • Additional Information

UK applicants are given the opportunity to complete this section containing information on ethnic origin, national identity, parental education, and summer schools attended. This section is not compulsory.

  • Student Finance

Students will be asked to give their permission for UCAS to share information with student finance which can help speed up the process of applying for student finance.

  • Course Choices

Students can choose up to five courses, these are not selected in rank order and the institutions cannot see where else students have applied.

  • Education

All qualifications must be added with either an achieved or predicted grade.

  • Employment History

There is space in this section to add details of up to five full or part time jobs. Volunteering shouldn’t be added to this section and instead should be saved for the personal statement?

  • Personal Statement
    • This is the students chance to show why they want to study the course applied for and should demonstrate a range of skills the student holds. This section is limited to a maximum of 4000 characters or 47 lines of text. Encourage your child to start this section early and ensure they have it proof read before sending the application.

       3. Check and Send

The final stage is to check all sections are fully completed and correct. Once your child is happy they are able to add details of their reference and pay the fee to send the application. The application fee is £13 to apply to one course, or £24 for multiple courses. Single applications sent after 30th June also incur the higher fee of £24.

If your child is made an offer

If your child has applied for more than once course through UCAS, and they receive multiple offers of a place they will need to narrow their choices down and select a firm choice and an insurance choice. A student’s firm choice is the place they will take if they meet any required conditions of their offer on results day. Their insurance choice is the place they will take up should they fail to meet the conditions of their firm choice on results day (but still meet the conditions of the insurance choice).

If my child receives no offers?

If your child receives no offers, or declines all the offers they do receive, then they will be able to apply for single courses through UCAS extra, this system opens in February and closes in July.

What if my child changes their mind?

If your child is holding offers with UCAS and has decided they no longer want to attend their firm or insurance choice they can decline both offers and apply for a course through clearing from July. However it is important to keep in mind that not all courses enter into clearing, only those with spaces left.


Applications to higher and degree apprenticeships are often made directly to the employer, although some might require an application to the institution providing the academic course which runs alongside employment. Although applications are made directly to employers there is a search tool on the UCAS website that allows students to search for apprenticeship vacancies and filter them by geographical location, qualification level or subject. Once your child has made an application to a higher or degree apprenticeship they may have to attend an interview.

Some colleges may also take applications directly for their higher education courses rather than applying through UCAS, though the information required will be similar to that of a UCAS application.

If you have specific questions about any of the higher education institutions in the North East it is best to contact them directly, a list of contact information can be found here.