There are two major kinds of degree-awarding institutions offering higher education in the UK:
Undergraduate degrees usually take three years to complete although some institutions offer special four-year programs for students whose high school qualifications do not meet university requirements. In these cases, some universities may require an applicant to complete a “foundation year” before enrolling in the full degree program. Professional courses such as medicine, dentistry and architecture may take up to seven years to complete.
Admission requirements to colleges/universities in Great Britain are often selective. In the U.K., each institution sets its own standards for admission and individually reviews the applicants. Some are more rigid while others are more flexible. Most universities will list requirements based on tariff points, the GCE, AS or A level exam results but accept other types of assessment (IB diploma). Some schools in the UK are now expecting students to take and score well on the SAT/Subject Tests if the student is attending an American high school in the United States (or ISB). Students must consult the university to determine admissions requirements. The best way to find out about a particular school is to visit their website and to write to their admissions office directly.
In applying to the UK, it is best to identify the course of study first, then the university. The UCAS website allows for searches which will produce universities offering the selected course of study. Career intentions should be considered as there is not much flexibility in the UK course program once enrolled in university. Each university publishes a prospectus, which can be found on line or in the Counseling Office Library. IB qualifications are also usually listed on the UCAS website.
All students applying to a university in the UK will do so through a clearing house called UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Services). A completed application form is used to apply to up to five universities. UCAS will then distribute applications to those schools for their decisions. Supportive materials can be sent by the student directly to the universities. The application will be completed online and submitted electronically. A credit card is needed to cover the cost of the application. Applications should be submitted in the fall term of the senior year, between mid-October, and mid-December.
The deadline for applying to Oxford, Cambridge or any medical, dental or veterinary courses in the UK is October 15. Please note that admission to any medical, veterinary or dental program for a non-UK citizen is extremely difficult. In addition, oral and written exams and an interview may be required at some schools.
The process and deadlines for students considering conservatoires is different. Two references are required: one practical and one academic. Each reference is sent directly to the conservatoire, not to UCAS. Some may require and interview or an audition. If a student is considering this option, it's important for them to research requirements thoroughly and in a timely fashion especially given that "on time" applications are due October 1.
Universities and Colleges Admissions Services – The application website for UK universities; extensive information on UK universities and programs including admissions requirements, course searches and location guides.
The Times Good University Guide – This describes UK universities and gives rankings for universities by course of study.
The Guardian University Guide – This is an interactive guide to universities and colleges. League tables used for comparisons are available. Searches can be done by subject/course.
Hotcourses – Start with a course of study and find UK universities that offer that course.
Open Days – Find out all you need to know about open days at the university or college of your choice. Browse the university and college open day calendar. Find out what goes on at an open day. Check out the advice for helpful tips and suggestions
Recently, international students who want to attend university in the UK have been required to take the IELTS (not TOEFL) to secure a student visa. This has raised many questions. There are two reasons English language proficiency may be required:
Students will receive an unconditional acceptance, conditional acceptance or unsuccessful response from universities.Unconditional acceptance means that the student has already met the requirements for admissions while conditional acceptance means the university has identified specific conditions that must be meet before the student is admissible.
Final decisions in July will be based on the successful completion of grades and IB exams. Students, who are unsuccessful in all of the applications first submitted, may participate in Extra or Clearing--a process through UCAS where students can identify which colleges/universities still have openings in particular areas of study. Each time a UK university makes a decision on an application, UCAS will notify the student of the offer details. Students will be asked to code all offers (there could be as many as five) as “Firm,” “Insurance” or “Decline.” Choose one firm and one insurance offer; all others must be declined. Since most offers are conditional upon IB examination score results and students won’t have received the exam results, this can be a difficult decision.
If students are confused about any offers, they should check with their counselor before choosing firm and insurance. Once a commitment is made to particular courses, they cannot be changed. UCAS asks for prompt replies, but students do have until early May to make decisions. If a student did not receive any offers, the student can participate in a process called “Extra” in which the student can apply one at a time to additional courses until an offer is received.
The personal statement on the UCAS application is the best way for admissions tutors to hear your voice. It is the one chance you will have to provide insight into your personality and goals. There is no specific required format but specific recommendations are made by the British university admissions officers. The personal statement cannot exceed 4000 characters or 47 lines. Seventy percent of the personal statement should relate to the course of study and your high school preparation. The other 30 percent can be about personal interests and out of school activities. The organization of your personal statement will reflect on your academic habits and abilities. Structure is important! Use clear paragraphs or sections that are easy to follow and read. Tutors recommend that the first paragraph explain why you have chosen the course of study. Forgo the obvious like “History is my favorite subject.” It is better to explain what it is about the subject that you enjoy. It is important to articulate your commitment to the course. Other paragraphs should be used to describe your interests and activities as well as part time work or volunteer activities. This helps the tutors to identify students who can organize their time and demonstrate commitment. Do not just list activities (makes for boring reading!) but do describe what importance the activity has for you or what you have gained from the activity. Avoid things that are a distraction to your viability as a potential student like “I enjoy socializing.” Check your essay for grammar, clarity and punctuation.
Click here for more info.
Why have you chosen this course?
League Tables are synonymous with rankings. The easiest tool for locating universities according to course, tariffs and locations is probably the 'trusted' Independent Guide. In the League Table by Subject, click on the Area of Study of interest. The League Table will tell you where the university ranks in a subject area compared to all UK universities with similar courses. To identify official IB entry requirements for each course you must visit UCAS.
In order to identify all the courses in your subject area and where in the UK you might find them try the CUG course chooser. You can also search by location! The Complete University Guide is indispensable.
For more information about whether you are eligible for UK or EU tuition fees visit UKCISA.