Go Higher: The UCAS services

University is a natural choice for anyone who enjoys new experiences, writes Tamsin Smith
Click to follow
The Independent Online
UCAS stands for the University and College Admission System. It is a limited company and a registered charity which is responsible for processing the vast majority of student applications for places on degree or HND courses at university or colleges.

Last year it received 2.5 million applications from more than 450,000 people all over the world (each person can make up to six applications on their form). More than 330,000 people found places.

Take care when filling in your application form. Presentation is crucial, spelling and grammar are important. More and more people are using UCAS's Electronic Application System (EAS) which has been sent to more than 1,800 schools this year. The EAS eliminates many basic mistakes and can be processed much faster at UCAS, leading to earlier decisions from universities and colleges.

UCAS customer support manager Caroline Russell said: "Most of the questions are straightforward, but it is easy to make a mistake on the form. That's why it is much easier to apply electronically because errors can be rectified on screen.

"Before starting, students should take a few photocopies of the form in case a mistake is made, and it should be filled in using a black ball point pen or typed in black. Students should also write in capitals to make their details easier to read, and keep the instructions close to hand while filling in the form because there are codes that you have to put down."

Applicants are asked to give details of their name, age, address, contact numbers, ethnic origin, nationality, sescondary education, employment to date, exams taken and qualifications pending. They will also need to give details of any special needs they have including disabilities or medical conditions which might require special arrangements or facilities.

There is a separate section to give personal details including why you want to do the course, whether you have any experience in the field and what your hobbies and interests are.

Its funding is provided by fees charged for processing application forms, currently pounds 14 per form for application up to six universities, or pounds 5 for a single application, and from a fee paid by the universities for every student placed with them by UCAS.

In addition, the service organises the NextStep Network of Higher Education Conventions to which prospective students and their parents are invited to find out more about universities, colleges, what courses are on offer and what the entry requirements are. Last year 200,000 people attended.

It also organises conferences for higher education specialists and admissions officers and conducts research for universities on students' ages, backgrounds, expectations and mobility and on course popularity to help universities ensure they are providing the right service for the future.

As part of its service, UCAS sends handbooks and applications forms to every applicant, school, sixth form college, careers office and reference library in the country listing all the 45,000 courses.

Information on all the universities, colleges and courses is available in University and College Entrance: The Official Guide, 1999 (pounds 19.95) and the StudyLink CD-ROM (pounds 9.95). These can be ordered through Sheed & Ward Ltd on 0171 702 9799.

Full course information is also available on the UCAS website: www.ucas.ac.uk which has links to the websites of the universities and colleges.

UCAS also manages the Clearing System, whereby students who fail to get a place on their chosen course at their chosen college are matched to vacant places on similar courses at other universities or colleges.

UCAS customer support manager Caroline Russell said: "Most of the questions are straightforward, but it is easy to make a mistake on the form. That's why it is much easier to apply electronically because errors can be rectified on screen.

"Before starting, students should take a few photocopies of the form in case of mistakes, and it should be filled in using black ink and a thin-point pen.

"Students should also write in capitals to make it easier to read, and keep the instructions close to hand because there are codes that you have to put down."

Applicants are asked to give details of their name, age, address, contact numbers, ethnic origin, nationality, secondary education, employment to date, exams taken and qualifications pending.

They will also need to give details of any special needs they have including disabilities or medical conditions which might require special arrangements or facilities.

There is a separate section to give personal details including why you want to do the course, whether you have any experience in the field and what your hobbies and interests are.

Buy next week's Independent on Sunday for full details.

Tamsin Smith

Comments