How to Apply in the UK

In the UK it is not unusual that requirements for certain subjects can vary a lot between universities. The decision whether an application is approved lies in the hands of the university alone.

Basically it can be said that if you want to take up a study in the UK you should contact the UCAS (Universities & Colleges Admissions Service). This is a central coordination institution that regulates fulltime study programs. UCAS doesn´t decide which student is accepted and which is not but it organizes the applications by certain rules and hands out the applications to the universities that the applicants are interested in.

On their website the system is explained in more detail and applications can also be handled online . There you can also find out whether you meet the requirements to apply for a certain study program.

Before applying at UCAS you should nevertheless contact the universities that you are interested in for specific regulations. For part-time study programs or postgraduate study programs you should apply directly at the university. All further requirements e.g language tests or additional qualifications are at the hand of the respective university alone.

It is also advisable that prospective students check out beforehand whether the requirements of the universities match e.g. the subjects that they have taken in secondary education. This helps them to gain better estimates on their chances.

For a complete application for an undergraduate degree program in the UK, applicants have to fill out the application forms of UCAS. In case of a direct application at the university (e.g. part-time prospective students or graduates) you have to fill out the universities´ forms.

Furthermore for most applications the following is needed:

  • Proof of English language proficiency to study at an English university
  • Interviews: For some universities like Cambridge or Oxford you have to participate in interviews to present yourself, your knowledge and your achievements


The formal deadline for all applications is often times already at the beginning of the year (15th January) you want to start your study. Applications for medicine, veterinary medicine or dental medicine as well as for Cambridge and Oxford have to be handed in even earlier (15th October).

For exchange semesters or part-time study programs there are no uniform regulations. Details should be inquired at the respective university. In many study programs, however, also a late application is possible that can be handed in until shortly before the semester begins (October 1st), which means sometimes applications can even be handed in until August.

Some universities changed their application deadline to the end of April. Applicants for a fulltime study in the UK must hand in their application for admission on December 15th the year before at the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

For exchange students: Applicants for an exchange semester should send their application for admission directly at the Admissions Officer of the respective university. For undergraduate students usually an application is only possible for the beginning of a study year meaning in October.

Important: Contact the university you are interested in for detailed information on when and how an application should be handed in.

Summary on how to find out about admission requirements:

  1. Contact the university and inquire information on the conditions for an application and potential acceptance tests.
  2. Inquire whether there are any language tests required. The regulations differ enormously between universities.
  3. Check whether any subjects in secondary education are required for an application in the respective study program.

How to Apply

In general there are three possibilities of applying to an English university:

1. Direct Application
Possibly the easiest way of applying to a UK University is the direct application. If you want to study full time at an English University, however, you have to go via UCA (Universities & Colleges Admissions Service) first.

But prospective students for a part time degree program or an exchange semester can apply directly at the university.
The universities are independent in their decision on whom they accept and whom they deny entrance.

This means that your application could theoretically be successful even if you don´t meet all the requirements. Many universities accept international students even if they might not fulfill all of the requirements, even under special conditions. Therefore it´s worth a try.

But always make sure that you contact the universities first about their individual requirements.

2. UCAS:
The British Universities & Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) is the central coordination institution for fulltime degree programs. This is where all undergraduate fulltime prospective students have to hand in their applications.

UCAS doesn´t decide on who is accepted and who is denied but all the applications are organized by this institution and then send to the universities. Also, students are preselected by checking whether they meet the required grade marks.

As soon as UCAS receives a completed application, it sends it to the different universities where an Admission Tutor for every degree program makes sure whether the applicant has the knowledge, the abilities and the grades to be accepted for the study program. Some universities invite students for interviews and for some study programs (like teaching) this is even obligatory. In these interviews most of the time not the knowledge is decisive but the general impression of the applicant´s personality (intelligence, creativity, activity and interests).

If the decision has been made UCAS sends out the “Statement of Decision Letter” as well as an answer card. The applicant than has to get back to the university within one month to say that he wants to accept the placement.
All the applicants who didn´t get a study placement by UCAS can register for a “Clearing”.

This is a procedure to select students for all the vacant study placements. For this, students themselves have to get active and contact the universities to be placed on their Clearing Lists. August 15th the Clearing Lists are made public so that applicants can see whether they got in or not.

On the UCAS Homepage you can find the names of the universities that work with UCAS as well as more detailed information on the application system.

For part-time and graduate degree programs an application via UCAS is not necessary.

Rosehill, New Barn Lane,
Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL52 3LZ
Tel: 0044-8701122211 (9.30 am - 5.30 pm UK-time)
United Kingdom

3. Erasmus
Another possibility to study in the UK is via the ERASMUS program. To be able to participate in this program you have to ask at your local university which UK universities participate in this program. To go abroad with ERASMUS you have to start planning and inquiring information on the application requirements quite early (at least a year before).