Putting the time and effort into researching your options at this stage will pay dividends in the future

UCAS, as some of you may be aware, provides all future students with a variety of efficient online research tools. For instance, you can find out everything you need to know about applying within the “Students” section of the website. There you will also find an institution guide, Course Search facility and comprehensive information on the UCAS Tariff.

Each of the above research functions are important when it comes to researching your future in higher education. Here we take a look at a brand new, state-of-the-art research tool as well as an old classic, both of which are vital in choosing the right institution for you.


UCAS have launched a new and innovative way of giving you all the information that you need about applying through the UCAS system: UCAStv. It launched on 14 August – A-level results day – offering a comprehensive guide to the Clearing process. Despite little promotion other than a link on the UCAS homepage, the site received 181,383 visits on results day with up to 75 viewers at any one time. During the rest of August the site received 497,175 hits, so word certainly seems to be spreading.

The site features how-to guides on applying, choosing your course, replying to offers, the Track facility and Clearing; it also features video case studies about applicants’ UCAS experiences. Have a look for yourself and you’ll see what a valuable tool this could be for you.

Open days

If you have chosen a few universities and colleges that you like the look of but have only seen what the campus looks like in the prospectus, what do you do? The simple answer is to get yourself to an open day and try and get as much out of it as possible.

The key is preparation and research. You may be swamped with exams and coursework, but it is a really good idea to set aside some time to go to an open day. You have to be sure that you are going to the right institution and that you will be happy there for at least three years. Some people are lucky enough to know what they want to do, but for a lot of students the choice is less than obvious. So, investing time and effort to weigh up the options is a wise move.

You can find out the dates of open days by heading to the institution guide on the UCAS website, where you can click on the university or college you are interested in to see what open days are available. You can even ring the institution directly if you want, as they will be more than happy to help out.

An open day usually involves a guided tour, allowing you the chance to look at the facilities and ask any burning questions you may have. It is also the ideal opportunity to meet current students, who will prove to be far more revealing than a prospectus!

Most students agree that going to an open day helped them to reach a decision about their first-choice institution. Remember: by making the effort now you can avoid the disappointment of starting university or college and discovering that it’s not quite what you expected…

To find out more visit www.ucas.com and www.ucas.tv