If you're thinking of going to university, or other higher education institution in the UK, apply through UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.
Apply online, through the UCAS website Apply
The site has plenty of information and guidance on how to use the system, including a number of video guides that can be found on the UCAS website.
Apply 2020 and UCAS Course Search 2020 is live from May 2019.
Here are some important dates to watch out for, along with a brief outline of the application process.
Here is a handy list of main key dates for entry in 2020.
21 May 2019
UCAS Apply for undergraduate courses opens, so you can begin to make choices and start filling in your application.
5 September 2019
You can start submitting your applications.
15 October 2019
If you're applying for Oxford or Cambridge universities or courses in medicine, dentistry or veterinary medicine apply to UCAS between 5 September and 15 October 2019.
15 January 2020
For the majority of courses apply to UCAS by 15 January 2020. Always check course details for the correct closing date.
Applications received after 15 January 2020 may not be considered and some popular courses may not have vacancies after that date. Check with individual universities and colleges. Try to apply as early as possible.
25 February 2020
Extra 2019 opens - If all your decisions are in and you didn't get any offers, or you want to decline those you have, you can apply to more choices for free with Extra.
30 June 2020
Deadline for late applications before Clearing system begins.
5 July 2020
The Clearing system opens and you can search for and choose courses. Contact institutions to discuss your application before you add your choices to Track.
15 August 2020
Adjustment opens for eligible applicants.
20 September 2020
If you haven’t already made an application to UCAS, this is the last date that you can submit one to go into Clearing.
22 October 2020
Clearing vacancy search system closes; you can still use Track to add Clearing choices but contact institutions to discuss course vacancies. It's also your last chance to add 2020 entry Clearing choices.
You can use Apply anywhere with internet access and you do not have to complete the form in one sitting. The following sections require to be completed.
Register to use the system – add some personal details, get a username, create a password and establish your security questions. Your school, college or centre will give you a buzzword before you register; this links your application to the school or college and allows staff to add your reference to it.
This includes your name and address, recorded through the registration process. You complete the funding and sponsorship options, your residential status, indicate if you have any special needs or disabilities and any criminal convictions and then nominate someone to act for you if you will be away during the application period.
Provide details about your ethnic origin, national identity any summer school/taster courses you attended, parental education and occupational background. Three new equality questions are now included which are used for statistical reports but it is not compulsory to provide this information.
Complete this section if you plan to apply for student finance and you would like a reminder about when to apply. If you agree, UCAS share this information with the student finance companies.
Insert up to five course choices or four of any one of medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine or veterinary science courses – plus one other subject. Note that you can only apply for one course at either the University of Cambridge or the University of Oxford.
Provide details of schools you have attended since you were 11, where you are now studying and what qualifications you have – do not send certificates. You will also need to know your Scottish Candidate Number.
Provide information on any full time or part time jobs you have had.
This is your chance to explain why you should get a place on the course – the UCAS website provides a lot of guidance on the content of this UCAS Personal Statement Help and there are examples in our 'UCAS applications - completing the personal statement' article.
View all details
You can access the complete form at any point during the application stage and make any amendments. If you're satisfied with it, mark it as complete.
Provide confirmation that you've completed the form accurately and honestly and agree for UCAS to share the information with HE institutions and your school.
The application fee for 2020 entry is £20 for a single course or £25 for more than one choice (and for applications sent after 30 June 2020). You will pay by credit/debit card or pay your school/college, they will inform you when to pay.
One of your teachers will add this to back up your application.
Your school or college sends off your application.
When UCAS receives your application, it sends you a welcome email that lists your choices. Use your personal ID (confirmed in the welcome email) and password (which you created when you registered) to view your application on Track, the system that allows you to track its progress.
UCAS gives each institution you have applied to access to your application form – they do not know where else you have applied.
Each institution then decides whether to offer you a place. They may ask you to gain certain exam results – a conditional offer.
Provided your application is in by 15 January in the year you wish to enter, the institutions you applied to will reply from March onwards and by early May at the latest.
When you have heard from all your institutions, choose two offers to hold until you get your exam results. Choose one as your first choice - firm acceptance, and a second as a back-up choice – insurance acceptance. If you accept an unconditional offer, you cannot hold any other offers.
Use Track to reply to offers. Make sure you meet the deadlines shown on the UCAS website.
If you intend to take a gap year and start your course in 2021, check that the university or college will accept a 'deferred entry' application. Tick the Defer box in the Courses section of the application form. Remember you must still meet the entry requirements by the start of September 2019, as if you were starting your studies in 2019.
If you have no offers, you can apply for other courses through this service, which operates from 25 February until 4 July each year. You apply for one course at a time, through Track.
When the exam results come out in August, if you still have no offers, or do not get the required exam results, apply for other courses through Clearing. The UCAS website lists Courses with vacancies.
You need a Clearing Number to apply – you will find it through Track. You can watch a video on 'No Offers? Use Clearing' on the UCAS site.
Look through the courses, find one that interests you and contact the university or college yourself (or have your nominated person do so) to ask if they will accept you.
The admissions tutor you speak to will tell you what to do next.
When your exam results come out try to be at home during August. You may have to reach decisions quickly about your future. It would be better if you spoke directly with admissions tutors rather than your nominated person. The Clearing vacancy search system closes on the 22 October. If you get a place through Clearing, UCAS will send you an official letter confirming it.