Getting into HE: The Applicant Journey
HE provision in the UK
UCAS is the central organisation through which
applications are processed for entry to full-time higher
education courses in England, Wales, Scotland and
HNC / HND
Certificate / Diploma of higher education
305 + Universities/Colleges
40,000 + Courses
2010 was a record breaking year for UCAS
474,746 Applicants accepted onto a course
Roughly equivalent to the whole city of
End of cycle figures (16 November 2010)
Placed via Clearing: Placed via Clearing:
Acceptances in the UK from ROI in 2010 (2009)
NI 517 Scotland
(447) 665 (781)
The UCAS journey
1 ▪ Potential applicant researches and finds a course
2 ▪ Registers online with UCAS Apply
3 ▪ Completes form and processes payment
4 ▪ Academic reference added by school / college
5 ▪ School / college sends form electronically to UCAS
6 ▪ UCAS processes form and forwards to chosen HEIs
7 ▪ HEIs submit decisions (offer or unsuccessful)
8 ▪ Applicant views decisions on Track
9 ▪ Applicant replies to offers on Track (Firm / Insurance)
10 ▪ HEIs confirm places when results are released
1. Course search - summer
2. Personal statement - summer
3. Apply - Sept/Oct
Key features of admissions scheme
Maximum of 5 choices
Some choice restrictions:
Medicine, Veterinary, Dentistry – max 4 choices
Oxford or Cambridge
Application fee for 2011 - £21 or £11 for single choice
Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary and Oxbridge
Deadline for all courses except those with 15 October
and 24 March deadline
Deadline for some art and design courses
However a school may give earlier deadlines
Obtain a real „feel‟ for the institution, subject, course, career:
Institution Open Days
Subject specific events
Compose your Future
Design your Future
Examine your Future
Paper based research
UCAS progression guides
Post-it is…or Post-it isn‟t
Possible Chemistry HE courses
Chemistry with Patent Law
Chemistry with Nanotechnology
Chemistry with Oceanography
Chemistry for Forensic Science
Chemistry for Drug Discovery
Course research → “Course search”
•other tariff – Leaving Cert.
Universities – a good starting point
Personal Statement STATS
1 Spellingalways . . . .
Maximum characters 4000
Maximum lines 47
2 Grammar in . . . .
55very common phrases used . No bold, italics or underlined
most common mistakes . .
in opening sentence …
. . .definitely avoid these
…try and avoid them 3 Naming one to study .
Apply times out afterUniversity . . .
I would like 35 minutes
spelling listing activities.
No 4 Just or grammar.check
I have chosen . .
Only 1 PS for every subject
My attempt to . . . version
5 First decisionis final .
Personal Statement - its all about you
Your opportunity to tell the institutions about you:
What are your academic achievements – talk about a
piece of work you are particularly proud of
How do your current academic achievements link to
your chosen subject?
What interests you about your chosen subject area:
Why does it interest you?
What do you already know about it?
What elements of the subject do you particularly enjoy
Life after university – where will it take you?
Where to start?
What makes you unique?
It doesn‟t matter what you‟ve done
provided it reflects the skills and attributes
that the institution have expressed are
Here are some example questions that
you could use to help…
What will the reader be looking for?
Numeracy, literacy study skills
and essay writing
= relevant (and transferable) activities
skills and abilities
What will make the reader pleased?
Understanding of the course
Analytical and reflective, not
Confirmation of chosen subject
Avoid writing lists
I play hockey for the school, I sing in the choir, I belong to a
drama society, I am taking part in the Gaisce Award, I work in
Tesco on Saturdays and I shop for my granny on Mondays
Expand on your activities
I have been an active member of the School Musical Society
for the last three years. This has been exciting as I have had
the opportunity to work collaboratively in a creative context with
other students, to design sets and costumes for „Grease‟ and
„Footloose‟. I am sure this experience will prove to be valuable
as I study costume design.
Concluding Personal Statements
End personal statement on a positive note, use opportunity to impress
“I am looking forward to becoming a psychologist”
“I am passionate about working with young children in the future
and therefore am highly determined to make the most of my
degree and achieve my ambition to become a developmental
Personal statement ABC RULE
Good What you‟ve done Activity
Better What skills it has given you Benefit
How these relate to your course Course
Keep it honest…
… and when I’m not working towards World
Peace, I enjoy learning languages from scratch,
writing symphonies and playing a standard of
golf that Tiger Woods can only dream about.
Similarity Detection Service
Personal Statements are checked against a library of
those already in the system, and from a variety of
websites and paper publications
Each new statement is added to the library after
£6,000 - £9,000
If over £6,000 – show how some of the additional income is used in
making progress in WP
HEIs have not declared their fees to date
Basic tuition fees £6,000 - £9000 per annum
The assembly government will meet the cost of extra fees for
students from Wales attending any UK university.
NI – will possibly follow England (has said cannot follow Wales)
No decision expected until after elections in May
UCAS Tariff – Irish Leaving Certificate
Grade Tariff Ordinary
A2 77 Grade Tariff
B1 71 A1 39
B2 64 A2 26
Not a good idea
Go thesaurus mad
To be intellectually pretentious
e.g. „ranting about a political situation‟
Refer admissions tutors to your
Use misdirected humour website instead of writing a
Commit GBH on the
Forget to explain how you know
it is the right course/vocation for
e.g. „To be sure, so I will‟
Have spelling or grammar errors
e.g. Recieve Copy, „borrow‟ or pay