Applying to university in the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland
Where can you look for online information and advice? Read on...
Applying for admission to higher education in the UK or Ireland is almost exclusively an online process these days. The essential starting point for almost all provision in the United Kingdom is the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) website at: www.ucas.com
The UCAS equivalent in the Republic of Ireland is the Central Applications Office (CAO) website at: www.cao.ie although you may need to begin by searching for course information on the Qualifax database at: www.qualifax.ie
There is a lot of information available and you will need to allow yourself plenty of time for initial exploration and subsequent research. From the UCAS home page, for example, clicking on 'Students' at the top of the page will open up several pages of detailed information on how to research appropriate courses and course providers, how to complete your application and how to submit it at the right time. You will almost certainly want to browse at length in the 'Course Search' section, where you can select subjects from an alphabetical list and obtain details of all higher education institutions (HEIs) offering relevant courses. Clicking on the course title leads to a summary of Entry Requirements, and on to an Entry Profile giving more details about what the course requires. You can link directly to the HEI website from this screen.
HEIs like to demonstrate their independence by making their individual websites maddeningly different from one another, but you should generally be able to find:
- News about the institution
- Descriptions of facilities
- Lists of courses, which may get as detailed as individual lecture notes if you dig deep enough
- Names of lecturers and admissions staff, with email addresses. Click on one and you can send an email straight away
- Information about accommodation, the surrounding area and so on
Having researched all the relevant information, you can apply online and subsequently track the progress of your application.
Working online allows you to proceed at your own pace, gradually making sense of a vast amount of information and extracting just what you need to meet your own requirements. The UCAS website alone has details of over 50,000 courses at some 325 HEIs. By 30 June 2011, UCAS had processed some 2,838,291 choices from 583,546 candidates for 2011 entry. Demand for undergraduate places is growing every year, making it more important than ever that you present yourself as a strong, well-informed applicant.
In a new development this year, you can now look up the advice you need at any time, wherever you are, thanks to the UCAS Connect mobile phone app. The service is accessible via a free app on Android, Apple and Nokia phones.
The app provides top tips, frequently asked questions and video guides, as well as access to UCAS' interactive search tool. Anyone with a question about university or college can type it in and get relevant answers.
Installing Connect on your phone also gives access to UCAS' Twitter account and Facebook page, where you can read real-time answers from expert advisers. It also carries the latest UCAS news and links to yougofurther (www.yougo.co.uk), UCAS' student network. Here you can get to know
other applicants and swap tips before you even set foot on campus.
To see the full range of services on offer visit UCAS Connect at www.ucasconnect.com
You can download the app via the Android Market, Apple's App Store, and Nokia's Ovi store. You can also view the mobile version of the website on Windows 7 and Blackberry phones.
You might also look at Unistats, an official site to help you compare subjects at different HEIs in the UK. Visit the website at: http://unistats.direct.gov.uk
For details of institutions and courses in Ireland, you will find that the Qualifax national learners’ database is very easy to use. Spend some time searching at: www.qualifax.ie Another option is to go to: www.educationireland.com for details specifically relevant to international students. The website also gives links to relevant Facebook, Twitter and Youtube options.