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Everything You Need to Know About UCAS as an International Student

  • Mar 27

Are you an international student looking to study in the UK? If so, you will likely come across UCAS during your application process. UCAS, short for the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, is the centralised application system used by most universities in the UK.


So, how does UCAS work?

Essentially, UCAS allows you to apply to up to five universities or courses with one application. This saves time and effort, as you only need to fill out one application form and submit it to UCAS, who will then forward it to your chosen universities.

In addition to its application service, UCAS provides a range of helpful resources for students, including information on university courses and entry requirements, finding student housing, financial resources, as well as advice on writing personal statements and preparing for interviews.

In fact, Student Essentials is a proud partner of UCAS where students can order the university starter pack ahead of time, and get them delivered before moving into their university hall. Our uni starter pack includes beddings, kitchen pack, and towel set so students don’t have to worry about these things when they arrive.

Opening a UCAS account

To open a UCAS account, you will need your personal details, academic qualifications, and your chosen courses or universities. You may also need to provide proof of your English language proficiency, such as an IELTS certificate.

It’s important to note that not all universities in the UK use UCAS for their application process. Some universities, particularly those offering specialised or vocational courses, may have their own application system. However, the majority of universities do use UCAS, so it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the system.

What The Admission Team is Looking for When Reviewing Your Application

When reviewing a UCAS application, the admission team considers various factors, including academic achievements, work experience, personal statement, reference letters, and extracurricular activities. They assess the applicant's academic qualifications, such as predicted or achieved grades, the relevance of the subjects studied, and any additional qualifications.

Work experience can also be a valuable asset, as it demonstrates skills and qualities that are transferable to higher education. The personal statement is also crucial, as it provides insights into the applicant's motivation, suitability, and passion for the chosen course. Reference letters from teachers, tutors, or employers are also taken into account as they provide additional information about the applicant's character, potential, and achievements.

Finally, the admission team considers any relevant extracurricular activities or achievements, such as volunteering, community work, or sporting achievements. All of these factors help the admission team make an informed decision about the applicant's suitability for the course and institution.

Step-by-step UCAS undergraduate applications

The UCAS undergraduate application process is straightforward and can be completed in several steps. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you navigate the process:

  1. Register and create your UCAS account: You can create an account on the UCAS website and follow the instructions to complete your profile.
  2. Choose your course: Once you have created your account, you can start browsing through the list of courses available in your field of interest.
  3. Complete the application form: The UCAS application form is divided into several sections; Personal details, Additional information, Student finance, Choices, Education details/history, Personal statement, and Employment history.
    You will need to provide accurate and up-to-date information in each section.
  4. Submit the application: Once you have completed all the sections of the application form, you can submit your application through UCAS. Remember to check all the information you have provided for accuracy.
  5. Pay the application fee: You will need to pay a fee to submit your UCAS application. The fee varies depending on the number of course choices you have selected.
  6. Provide references: You will need to provide at least one academic reference as part of your application. Your referee will be contacted by UCAS and will need to provide a reference on your behalf
  7. Track your application: You can track the progress of your application through UCAS Track. You will receive updates on your application status and any offers you receive from universities.


The UCAS application deadline for most undergraduate courses is 15th January. However, some courses have different deadlines, so it's important to check with the universities you're applying to. Do note that you can only apply once in a cycle.

To avoid cancellation and loss of refund, it is important not to submit a new application or apply multiple times in one cycle if you are holding a deferred place.

However, if you have applied before and are not holding a deferred place, you can submit a new application, and your previous UCAS PID will be reactivated.

Documents Required:

To complete your UCAS application, you will need the following documents:

  • Personal information, including your name, date of birth, and contact details
  • Details of your education history, including your qualifications and grades
  • Employment history (if applicable)
  • Personal statement
  • Academic reference

To sum it up, UCAS is an essential tool for international students looking to study in the UK. Its centralised application system and range of helpful resources make the application process smoother and easier to navigate. Just be sure to check if your chosen universities use UCAS, and if so, follow the UCAS application guidelines closely.