How to Apply for Universities in UK – Step by Step Guide

This article is designed to show aspirants how to apply for universities in UK, whether as international or domestic students. If it has been your life-long dream to study in the UK, here’s a comprehensive step by step guide on how you can apply for admission.

The United Kingdom is one of the popular education hubs in the world and boasts of some of the top universities and colleges in the world with top-ranking degree programs. It is no wonder why a lot of foreign students want to go there for their studies.

The climate and people are accommodating, the culture isn’t hard to adapt to and it is an English-speaking country that shouldn’t be so hard to learn. I mean, it is the world’s most spoken language and taught in almost every high school in the world.

The English people are warm and welcome strangers or foreign students with ease, so going there as an international student won’t pose many problems.

How to apply for universities in UK is way different from that of the United States and Canada sytems whereby you need to make university-specific applications. In the UK, you’re only required to write one personal statement, apply to a maximum of five universities all of which are conducted via an online portal.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it?

It will be easy for you to get a hang of but since you are just starting out, it can become a daunting task but not to worry, this post makes it as simple as possible.

Top Universities in the UK

There are over 170 universities and other post-secondary institutions in the UK that offers a wide range of degree programs and offers internationally recognized qualifications. If you don’t have any universities in mind or considering at the moment, you may want to consider the following:

  • The University of Cambridge
  • The University of Oxford
  • The University of St. Andrews
  • Imperial College London
  • Durham University
  • The University of Warwick
  • The University of Birmingham
  • The University of Manchester
  • King’s College London
  • The University of York
  • The University of Sheffield

These are some of the top universities in the UK, you may want to consider applying to them, and if none of them spikes your interest check for others and follow the step-by-step guide below to begin the application.

Top Degree Programs in the UK

Also, if you don’t have a discipline in mind that you want to study, you may consider some of the top degree programs in the UK below:

  • Law
  • Medicine & Dentistry
  • Psychology
  • Engineering
  • Architecture
  • Computer science
  • Education
  • Economics
  • Business & Admin
  • Nursing

If none of these programs interests you to study, go on to find the one that matches your career goals.

Now, let’s get on the main ride on how to apply for universities in UK outlined and explained step by step.

Step by Step Guide on How to Apply for Universities in UK

This is a guide on how you can apply to universities in the UK either as an international or domestic student. These steps are;

Choose a UK University and Course of Study

This is the first step to apply for universities in UK and it really isn’t hard, read on…

You want to study in the UK, it is just basic knowledge that you will choose a university in the UK. We have listed some of the top universities in the UK above, you may want to select from there and if you do not like any of them, do your research and pick others.

When choosing a university in the UK confirm they offer your preferred program and if you are an international student also confirm that they admit your kind of students. Also, make further research that the university you chose is driven towards your career goal.

A good place to start is Discover Uni, an official website for comparing UK higher education course data and it also holds a lot of information that will help you decide which course, location, and UK university or college is the best for you.

There are two things you are going to complete in this step to move on to the next, they are choosing a university and a program that suits your career goals.

Meet all Requirements

Here is the second step on how to apply for universities in UK, you may want to slow down a bit while reading this part a single misunderstanding can ruin the whole process for you.

Universities set out requirements that applicants must meet to become admitted in their institutions or before they can be offered admission in their respective fields of study and be seen as full-fledged students.

Admission Application Requirements for UK Universities

The university which you chose also has requirements that you must meet, and I can’t begin to mention these requirements because they vary across universities and sometimes programs. But the general requirements are:

  • An up-to-date passport or national I.D card
  • Financial proof which will show if you can finance our studies
  • A tuberculosis test (certain countries)
  • Proof of English language proficiency
  • Personal information including your academic qualifications (academic transcripts)
  • A reference letter
  • Copies of degree or diploma certificates
  • Personal statement
  • Complete application form
  • And possibly more

English Proficiency Requirements

UK universities require students who are from non-English speaking countries or whose first language isn’t English must take any of the English languages proficiency tests below to show proof of their English skills:

These English proficiency tests all have an average score which you must pass and these scores vary across institutions and, in some cases, by programs too you will have to check the university website to know the score for your program.

Furthermore, some universities and colleges may require applicants to provide additional tests such as the UCAT or BMAT for medicine, or the LNAT for law degrees.

International applicants must also take a tuberculosis test and show proof that they are clear of the disease, although this isn’t required for every country. Check if your country is listed.

Construct a well-structured personal statement as it is a huge deal in getting you admission to a UK university. Your personal statement plays a key role in facilitating your admission it is what sets you apart from all other students and is likely to be a key to your success when faced with competitors with similar grades and backgrounds.

Your personal statement must be a maximum of 4,000 characters and should include details of your interests or hobbies, what you will offer the university, why you chose the course, and show your dedication to the course.

Register and Apply

This is the third step on how to apply for universities in UK and by now, you must have covered the first two. There are two categories in this step, application for undergraduate and for postgraduate programs;

UK University Application Process for Undergraduates

Applying to UK universities as an undergraduate is much easier, you don’t have to apply to these universities individually as there is just one website where you are to register and be able to apply for all UK universities and colleges in one place.

Undergraduate applicants whether international or domestic ones should register and apply through the UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Services) website and fill in your application form.

After filling your application form on the website, UCAS will contact you with any offers from your chosen universities or colleges.

Now, there are two offers of admission you can get from the universities or colleges you have applied to and that is “conditional” and “unconditional” admission offers.

If your offer is unconditional, you can relax as your place in the course is confirmed. That means you have been accepted as a UK student.

If your offer is conditional that means your offer is confirmed only when you achieve certain results in your current studies or in English language tests.

The UCAS currently charges £13 ($18) when you apply to a university and a program or £24 ($33) when you apply to multiple universities or programs.

You can respond to an admission offer through the UCAS website.

UK University Application Process for Postgraduates

Some UK universities that offer postgraduate courses have their own specific entry requirements and application processes, check the individual course websites for application instructions. While some use the UK Postgraduate Application and Statistical Service (UKPASS) scheme.

The UKPASS makes application process into postgraduate programs very easy, as you can apply for up to ten postgraduate courses through one simple application. You can apply through the UKPASS website at any time as there are no deadlines.

However, your host institution may have its own closing dates and since it varies by universities and preferred programs you will need to check with them before you apply.

UCAS Conservatoires

There is a separate application system for undergraduate and postgraduate applicants that want to study music, dance, and drama courses. This application platform is the UCAS Conservatoires website

Teacher Training

There is also a separate application website for postgraduate applicants that want to take teacher training courses. Find out more and apply online at the UCAS Teacher Training website.

When you get accepted into a UK university, a Confirmation of Acceptance Studies (CAS) form is a virtual document with a unique reference number sent to you by the university that accepted you. Keep this document safe as it will be used to apply for your student visa.

The CAS has further important information such as the details of your course, start date, tuition costs, and your official confirmation of a place at university.

Pay for Immigration Health Surcharge

This is the fourth guide on how to apply for universities in UK, it is just as simple as outlined below…

You must pay an Immigration Health Surcharge fee of £150 ($210) to receive free healthcare throughout the period of your studies. The payment can be made online and the receipt should be well kept as it will be required for your visa application.

Create your Budget

This is the fifth step on how to apply for universities in UK and concerns monetary management and getting other forms of aid that can help your education…

Studying in your home country isn’t expensive and besides, there are varieties of governmental funding you can easily lay your hands on. Sadly, the same cannot be said for international students as tuition fee is usually more for this category of students and there aren’t many available financial aids too.

Anyway, whether you are an international or domestic student you will need to arrange to fund as long as you have been offered admission. You may get loans, grants, scholarships, and other financial aid to help finance your studies.

Things to consider when creating an educational budget are:

  1. Tuition fee
  2. Cost of living
  3. Flight fare

Calculating these will give you an idea of how much you will spend in an academic year and also help you manage resources accordingly. This is a task (research) you will have to carry out on your own.

Apply for Visa

International students will need a visa to travel and study in the UK, application processes for a visa vary across countries. Visit your country’s embassy office or website to get more information.

Arrive in the UK

This is the final step on how to apply for universities in UK and this is where the adventure begins.

This step is self-explanatory. After you have been granted a visa by the UK government you can now travel to the UK to begin your studies. Keep all your documents safe as they may be required by immigration when you land.


FAQs on how to apply for universities in UK

To help you further, we have answers to some of the frequently asked questions when it comes to studying in the UK. These FAQs are:

Is it easy to get admission to UK universities?

The UK has top universities such as Cambridge and Oxford that are very hard to get into, in fact, their acceptance rate is slightly above 20%. So, whether a UK university is difficult to get into or not is dependent on the university you are applying to and your academic strength.

What qualifications are necessary for admission to a university in the UK?

Entry requirements for UK universities vary considerably as each sets its own qualification requirements according to your course, level of study, and country of origin.

However, the typical academic qualification requirement for undergraduate applicants is that students must have completed high school or secondary school and passed either A-levels and attained certain grades.

While for postgraduate applicants, must have completed a bachelor’s degree and attained certain grades or GPA.

How much does it cost to apply to a university in the UK?

When applying for a course, the fee is £13 ($18) but when applying for multiple courses, the fee is £24 ($33). Further details concerning application costs for UK universities are given above.

How many universities are you allowed to apply to in the UK?

The maximum amount of universities you can apply for is five (5) for the same course or five different courses at the same university – choose the one that suits you best.

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