Important Admissions Deadlines for Studying in the UK

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Important Admissions Deadlines for Studying in the UK

Studying at a higher education institution in the United Kingdom can be a life-changing experience. Not only will you have the chance to receive a world-class education, you’ll also get to experience all the culture and history the UK has to offer. Of course, before you can study in the UK, you need to get accepted to a UK university. Different universities and colleges have various requirements for admission. Nearly all require information on your academic performance, your exam scores and a complete application through the admissions service. You’ll also need to apply for your student visa if you are accepted to a course of study. There are several important deadlines you won’t want to miss.

  • Important Exams

    Getting accepted into a higher education program normally involves taking exams and submitting your scores. If you are an international student, the tests you take may be different from the exams taken by students from the UK. For example, the SAT and ACT tests from the United States are both accepted by institutions in the United Kingdom. Of course, the UK’s A-level and AS-level exams are also accepted. For graduate level studies, other exams may be required such as the Graduate Management Admission Test. Some courses require General Certificate of Secondary Education scores for admissions. Others may not consider these scores at all. However, if you are planning to take A- and/or AS-level exams, you will likely need to first take the GCSE. If you are not a native English speaker, you may need to take an exam demonstrating your command of the language. There are several of these including: The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) The Pearson Test of English (PTE) Many universities accept the TOEFL, IELTS or PTE. However, they are not universally accepted. The selections of exams accepted are different for each university. Most major exams from the United States and the International Baccalaureate are accepted; however, this is not the case at every university or college. Others may require additional tests. In short, carefully check the admission requirements of any university you are interested in applying to. Typically, the deadlines for exam score submission are the same as application deadlines. Of course, it is a good practice to check with the institution and program you are applying to. Additionally, many entrance exams are only available on certain dates and times. Creating a schedule of when you will take which tests can help you stay organized while applying. The scores for some exams expire after a certain period. For example, TOEFL and IELTS scores are valid for two years. Understand the tests you need to take and how long they are valid for before taking them. A little preparation can save you significant time and money.

  • Applications

    The majority of schools in the UK use January 15th as their admission deadline. All application materials must be submitted before this point. Some colleges recommend applying early. This allows them some time to gather additional information beyond the main application. For international students, there is some flexibility; however, it is typically best to follow the January deadline, if possible. Keep in mind that applications received after the main deadline are likely to be marked as late. Nonetheless, if you miss the January deadline, it is still likely worthwhile applying. Oxford, Cambridge and some other institutions use an earlier deadline of October 15th of the preceding year. Schools and programs using this deadline are usually less flexible with international students than those using the January deadline. The admission deadline may vary between programs. Medical, veterinary and dentistry courses, for example, typically use the October 15th deadline. Some art and design programs are a little more flexible and accept applications as late as March 24th. Check with both the university or college and the program you are applying to for the exact dates for admissions. The last thing you want when trying to study in the UK is to find out you assumed a deadline and got it wrong. Applications for UK schools are administered by the University and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). This centralized process helps to simplify applying to multiple institutions, it also keeps the deadlines largely consistent between universities and colleges. There are a few other important UCAS dates. September 6th: Completed applications can be submitted to UCAS October 15th: Admission deadline for Oxbridge and some programs January 15th: Admission deadline for most schools and courses February 25th: UCAS Extra opens for applications March 24th: Admission deadline for some art and design courses July 4th: The last date to apply to UCAS Extra July 5th: UCAS Clearing opens September 20th: The final deadline for applications When applying through the UCAS, you will need to submit a personal statement. This can be on almost any subject, however, many universities are looking for essays on academic experiences. For many students’ applications, the personal statement can be a major factor in getting accepted. So, it is likely worthwhile to research topics that are typically successful for the courses you are applying to. UCAS applications allow students to select up to five courses they are interested in. UCAS Extra is a chance for students who weren’t accepted to any of their choices in the initial round to add another choice. Similarly, UCAS Clearing lets students secure offers if they have not been accepted by July 5th. This works similarly to the waitlist system in the United States. Universities and colleges use clearing to fill any vacancies prior to the start of the school year. Students use clearing for one or three main reasons: Applied after June 30th Exam results were short of requirements No offers received, or no offers accepted The UCAS recommends that students talk to an advisor about the Clearing process. The organization offers an official vacancy list to help you find courses you may be interested in that still have vacancies. After finding which courses you want to apply for, you can add a Clearing choice to the UCAS system.

  • Interviews

    Many universities and colleges require students to interview prior to being accepted. These typically take place between the application deadline and the start of acceptance. However, these are not as centrally organized as the dates for the UCAS applications. Therefore, it is best to contact the school to learn when interviews will take place. Only a limited number of interviews can happen at any given time, so yours will likely be scheduled by the school’s admissions team after receiving your application. Depending on the course, not all applicants will be interviewed. Usually, only students who have a realistic chance of being accepted will be invited to interview. However, if you are applying to a course that includes interviews in the admissions process, you will need to complete one to be accepted. Not all universities and colleges require interviews. Naturally, the most competitive courses tend to require them whereas less competitive programs may not. Again, the only way to be certain about the requirements of the schools and courses you are applying to is to contact them.

  • Student Visas

    Once you have been accepted to a program that you wish to attend, you will need to apply for a visa. Student visas allow you to enter the United Kingdom to pursue your education. Having a student visa is required to study in the UK as an international student. You will likely apply for the Tier 4 (General) student visa. You can apply for this if you: Are at least 16 years old Have been offered a place on a course Can read, write and speak English Are able to financially support yourself and afford your tuition Are from a country not in the European Economic Area or Switzerland They also offer benefits such as health coverage under the National Health System. With a UK student visa, you may work part-time – up to 20 hours per week – during the academic year and full time during breaks. This opportunity to work is sometimes the determining factor for international students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to fund their studies. Typically, the most important element of applying for a student visa is submitting your completed application(s). There are a couple important dates to keep in mind. Applications must be submitted in the three months leading up to the matriculation date. Visitors with student visas must enter the country anytime during the month prior to the start of classes. For courses lasting six months or less, this timeframe is shortened to one week. Most students receive a decision regarding their visa applications within three weeks of applying. Processing times vary by country and are never exact. The UK Home Office offers a service to check the turnaround times for the country you are in. In most cases, students can apply for their visas using the Visa4UK service. If you are familiar with the US system, this is equivalent to the I20 form or the DS-2019 form.

  • Getting Started

    Before you ask yourself “what admissions deadlines do I need to think about,” you will want to find a program that is right for you. Use SchoolApply’s tools to find an institution and course that match your educational needs.

Levels Explained

  • Bachelor's

    A bachelor's degree (also called a first degree or undergraduate degree) is attained after receiving a post-secondary (high school) education and generally spans four years. Students pursuing these types of degrees are commonly referred to as bachelor or undergraduate students. A bachelor's degree is usually offered at an institution of higher education, such as a university.

  • Master's

    A master’s degree (or postgraduate or graduate education) involves learning and studying for academic or professional degrees. This degree is preceded by a bachelor’s degree and generally takes two years to complete. Students pursuing these types of degrees are commonly referred to as master's, or grad students.

  • Pathway

    Bachelor’s and master’s pathway programs are designed for international students who need additional English language and academic preparation before continuing to a degree program at a university. The purpose of these programs are to give students the confidence and skills needed to succeed in college.