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Entry Requirements for UK Universities

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Depending on your level and program of study, the application process for studying in the UK can vary. 

The main body for undergraduate admissions in the UK is The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). For most undergraduate programs, Students should submit their applications to the UCAS website before January 15th for entry in the next academic year. If you’re applying to Oxford or Cambridge, or to most medical, dentistry or veterinary courses, you should submit your application before October 15th. At the graduate and postgraduate level, students can apply to some courses through UCAS, but most programs require that students apply directly to the university or college which runs their chosen course.

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Every course has varying requirements which must be satisfied to gain entry at to your level of study. The requirements reflect the academic ability that will be required to successfully complete the course. UCAS may ask for information about completed or ongoing qualifications, which can be given in an international equivalent to the UK system of GCSEs and A Levels. If you’re studying at the graduate level and can’t find your institution or course requirements in the UCAS system, visit the institution’s website to find out the application process they require for studies beyond the graduate level. 

Universities also often ask for a personal statement to set you apart from other candidates. If you’re applying as an international student, it would be advisable to include your reasons for wanting to study in the UK in your personal statement. Finally, if you are a non-native English speaker, or your previous qualifications were given in a language other than English, you may be asked to prove your proficiency in the language by taking a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). 

Read more: TOEFL® vs. IELTS™ - Which Language Test Should I Take?


Specific to the application process for universities in the UK is an application method known as clearing. Clearing is a way for universities to fill unclaimed places in their courses after secondary school exam results are released to UK students. In 2018, over 60,000 students were accepted to university in the UK using clearing. 

To be eligible for clearing, you need to have applied for a place at a UK university through UCAS and not received any offers, or changed your mind about your top choice and rejected any offers you’ve received. If you’re eligible, once the clearing period has begun your UCAS profile will automatically reflect that your application is in clearing. 

If you know that you’ll want to enter higher education in the UK through clearing, you can use UCAS’ Search Tool to find out which courses have clearing places available. Most clearing vacancies are published in August. UCAS will provide you with the university’s contact information, including a number if you’re calling from outside the UK, and you should contact the university you want to apply to by phone. Have your clearing number and UCAS ID number at the ready so the university can identify you in their system. 

In the conversation, the university may ask you about your previous academic qualifications, English proficiency, visa status and other details about qualifying for study at their institution. They may also ask you more specific questions about why you want to study your course of choice, so be prepared with all the relevant information. If the university would like to accept you, they’ll give you a verbal offer on the phone and you can go back into UCAS to add that university as a clearing choice. The institution will confirm the choice with UCAS, and you’ll receive a confirmation letter! 

Learn more about studying in the UK:


Choosing the UK as your study abroad destination means more than a top-quality education. Get an overview of what the UK and why you should study abroad there.

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Education System

There are over 3,000 institutes for international students to choose from throughout the United Kingdom. Take a minute to find out more about how the UK higher education system works.

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Student Visas

What kind of study visa do international students need to study abroad in the UK? UK student visas are awarded on a points-based system, obtained by submitted certain information and documents.

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Housing & Living Costs

Most UK universities own accommodation which they rent out to students, commonly called ‘halls’. But many other housing options also exist if university halls are not your thing.

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Tuition Fees & Scholarships

Tuition fees for the United Kingdom vary depending on where you are from and where you are studying. Find out more about costs as well as scholarship opportunities for international students.

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Language & Culture

The UK has a long and rich history and culture. Find out more about what it offers in terms of language, culture, and more!

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Ready to look at studying abroad in the UK? Use our search engine to find and compare top programs in the UK today!

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Last update: 03 Dec 2019

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