Applications University

Overview: Applying to UK universities

Are you considering applying to university in the United Kingdom, but don’t know where to start? Read this article for detailed guidance on how to begin your application and what you should expect from UK universities until your results day!

For context, I applied to the University of Cambridge, University College London, University of Southampton, Durham University, and University of Bath for Natural Sciences as an international student, and have received four offers from them. 


If you are applying for the next school year, you probably already have a rough idea about Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). However, let me give you a brief introduction to this system:

 UCAS is a centralized system that provides an easy and fair application process to everyone who wants to apply to UK universities. Through UCAS, applicants can get information on UK universities they may be interested in as well as choose, and apply to a maximum of 5 of these universities. Each applicant is required to submit the following information and documents:

  1. Personal details 
  2. Personal circumstances
  3. Funding
  4. Education History (may include IB predicted grades and educational certificates)
  5. Personal statement (may include reason for applying for their universities and courses)
  6. References (not submitted by applicants)

Additionally, while it is crucial to not rush over your application, it is best to note down the UCAS deadlines. The general 2024 application deadline for all universities other than Oxbridge is the following:

  • 16th of May, 2023: Opening of undergraduate applications
  • 5th of September, 2023: Earliest submission date for applications
  • 31st of January, 2024: Deadline for application submission

It should also be noted that submitting your UCAS application will come with a fee of £22.50 for a single course choice or £27 for multiple courses. 

A piece of advice is to complete the application process under your university counsellor’s supervision for reliable guidance and support. For more details regarding what you need to complete each section, check out the UCAS website.


If you are applying to Oxbridge, be aware that the process is very different compared to other universities. The main difference is that the deadline for Oxbridge applications is far earlier, the 16th of October this year to be more specific. This applies to courses such as medicine, veterinary medicine, and dentistry. The main reason behind this is that applying to Oxbridge requires you to take an entry exam and attend an interview. These processes take months to complete, and since there are many competitive applicants, time is needed to assess each applicant’s academic ability. 

 If you are uncertain about whether to apply, my advice is to go for it. The interview with Oxbridge’s professors is a lifetime opportunity.

Receiving Your Offers

As stated earlier, the 2024 deadline for most application submissions is the 31st of January, 2024. As such, offers will be rolled out starting at this time. For Oxbridge, there will be set days where they send offers (or rejections) through UCAS. 

When universities send out decisions, UCAS will send you an email. From here, you can then immediately log in to see the decision. If you have yet to sit your exams, it is likely that the offers will be conditional, meaning that while universities will accept you, you need to fulfill certain conditions to ensure this. These conditions usually revolve around reaching a certain predicted grade range for IB students. 

In addition to logging into UCAS, there might be additional actions that you need to complete after receiving your offers, such as tracking your application through the university’s website. Even if a university is not your first choice, I strongly advise you to carry out the actions they require. 

Once you have received all five decisions from the universities you applied for, it is time to carefully decide which two universities you will choose as your first and back-up choices. Keep in mind that there is a deadline for making your final decision. The deadline for the 2024 entry is the 6th of June, 2024. 

In the worst case scenario, you might not get any offers from the universities you applied for. Do not panic! When this happens, you will be able to select extra choices. For more information, have a look at the following UCAS sub-page.

After this, all you need to do is to focus on your IB exams and wait to see your results on Results Day!

Results Day

Your UCAS application will finish when UCAS receives the results from your exams which the system will use to determine whether you have met your conditional offers. 

On results day, remember to keep calm, making sure you have all the information you need to get your results. You will likely receive your exam results before UCAS receives them and is able to update whether you have met your offers. This means that even when you have not achieved the grades for your conditional offer, you still have time to contact the universities and make your case for admission. Therefore, I strongly advise looking at your results immediately to give you enough time to make appeals. 

 On the other hand, if you have met your offer for firm choice, congratulations! The university will then contact you through email to help you with your enrollment. 

My Advice

As a 2023 applicant, the best piece of advice I can give is to start early. This means writing at least two drafts of your personal statement during summer, consulting with your university supervisor at the end of year 12, and preparing for any entrance exam three months before exam day. 

Additionally, make sure you know what you need to do to get the highest chance of getting accepted into the universities you want, and be confident in yourself. Even if your predicted grades are not up to par with the requirements of your dream university, apply and show them you are capable with an outstanding personal statement. 

 Finally, if you have any questions, email the universities’ admission team! They might reply quicker than you expect! Universities will be happy to answer any of your questions, so do not be afraid to give them a call!


With the university application season in full swing, I wish all prospective applicants the best. Every university is unique. Thus, no matter which university you go to, I am sure you will have the best experience of your life!

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