This section outlines the main steps you need to take when applying for either a full- or part-time higher education course. It also provides advice and tips.

Summary of arrangements for applying

For most full-time higher education courses you need to apply through UCAS. There are key dates in the application process, including deadlines by which you must apply.

For most part-time courses, you apply directly to the university, college or training provider.

To apply for an apprenticeship, including Higher and Degree Apprenticeship, you can start by looking at GOV.UK.

Tips before you apply

  • Check the application process on the institution's website in case you need to apply directly or there are any special processes.
  • Find out the deadline and give yourself plenty of time to complete your application.
  • Get ready to market yourself, your skills and experiences.
  • Make sure you have the qualifications and other criteria to match the course requirements.
  • Think about the best person to ask for a reference.

Your referee

Your reference is an important part of your application. You should be confident that your referee will be prepared to write a positive statement in support of your application, so they need to know you quite well. 

Your referee could be a recent employer, a teacher/tutor or a supervisor if you’ve been volunteering, for instance. 

Ask your referee beforehand if he or she is willing to write a reference for you. Give them the details of the course and the entry requirements, and let them know why you’re applying. Ensure they understand the expected style of writing, deadline and method of submitting the reference. You might want to ask them to read this guidance for referees from UCAS.

Interviews and other assessments

As part of your application, you may be asked to visit the university or college for an interview. There’s lots of advice online about preparing for university and college interviews, e.g. through UCAS and PUSH. The key things to remember are to prepare well and not to panic. 

Depending on the course, other assessments may form part of the application process. For example:

  • auditions are usually important for performance-based courses
  • for art and design programmes, you will need to demonstrate your talents through a portfolio of your creative work
  • sometimes universities expect you to sit an admissions test


Be aware that higher education institutions check for plagiarism so do not copy any aspects of your application from other people or the web! The software used to detect plagiarism is very sophisticated. 

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