high school student in science classAndy D’Agorne – York College

Applying to University in the UK can sometimes seem a little overwhelming, especially for international students who are less familiar with the process. We’ve been speaking to Andy D’Agorne, Careers Coordinator at York College to try to clarify what you need to do and when.


Our interview with Andy

What qualifications to students need to obtain to gain access into University?

Generally speaking students need what is terms a “full level 3” qualification. This can be A-Levels, an Extended Diploma, an Access Course or a course such as the International Foundation Programme offered by York College. Sometimes students can also apply to UK Universities using overseas qualification, but this depends very much on the country in question.

Most of our students go down the A Level route.  How do the grades they achieve at A Level convert into UCAS points for application?

The UCAS website lists what they call the UCAS Tariff. This gives a conversion table for a great many courses, including A-Levels. Note that from next year a new grading system will come into force for entry to courses starting in September 2017. My advice would be to keep checking the UCAS website for information about this (www.ucas.com).

So, with their UCAS points can students apply to any university course in the UK?

The use of UCAS points is optional. Some Universities may specify minimum grades in particular subjects instead of a total points score and some will require both specific grades and an overall points total.

How many universities can a student apply to?

Students can apply for courses at up to 5 universities. However, if a student wishes to apply to Oxford or Cambridge, they cannot apply to both of these Universities. It’s one or the other I’m afraid!

When will students have to decide which courses and universities they want to apply to?

For Oxford or Cambridge, applications must be submitted by October of the year prior to entry. For example, students wishing to start courses in Autumn 2015 will have to apply by October 2014. For all other universities the application deadline is January.

When do students hear whether they have been successful in getting a place at their chosen university?

Universities typically make offers to students in March and April. These offers are usually conditional as students will still be waiting for exam results at that stage of the year. Around April time, students should look accept one “firm offer” and one insurance offer. The insurance offer means that if students do not get the right grades for their first choice university, they still have a backup option.

What happens if they don’t get enough UCAS points for their first choice university or their insurance choice?

If this happens you can apply via what is called “clearing”. This means that once the UK exam results are released in August, you can apply for any university course that still has places available. These are listed on the UCAS website from mid-August every year.

What support to students get from York College throughout this process?

Every student at York College has a personal tutor who plays a really big role in supporting and advising the student. An important part of their job is to guide the student through the UCAS process and write a tutor’s statement in support of the application. Individual subject tutors also have an important role to play. Finally, there are a number of specialist careers advisers, such as myself. We can offer further advice and guidance. At the end of the day, there are lots of people who can help. It’s a big part of what we do. However, ultimately, our role is simply to interpret and channel each individual student’s hopes and ambitions. It is the students themselves that really make their own future a reality and that is great to see!