Applying to University in the UK from Australia

If you’d like to study in the UK, there are a few things that you’ll need to know.

Step 1 – Find out about Student Visa requirements

It’s a great idea to start by looking at the UKCISA (UK Council for International Student Affairs) website. They specialise in providing advice and information to international students.

You’ll have to make sure that you meet the requirements for a Student Visa and are eligible before you apply.

Make sure that you only take advice about your student visa from lawyers authorised by a designated professional body (for example, barristers, solicitors and legal executives) or advisers regulated by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC).

Step 2 – Will your Australian results qualify you to apply?

As a general guide, universities look for qualifications that are equivalent to the British high school A-levels. This usually means finishing Year 12 and receiving your high school certificate.

Each university you apply to will look at your results (including ATAR and individual subject results) and use them to determine the equivalent UK results. For example, the London School of Economics considers an ATAR of 96 to be equivalent to an A-level grade of AAB.

Similar to universities here, some degrees might also have pre-requisite subjects (such as Biology for medicine).

A portfolio may also be required for some art and design courses.

Step 3 – Make sure your studies will be officially recognised

Check if the University you’d like to study at provides officially recognised degrees on the gov.uk website here: https://www.gov.uk/check-university-award-degree.

Step 4 – Apply

The UK has a centralised applications system over there that’s a little like our TACs here in Australia (UAC, VTAC, QTAC, SATAC, TISC). It’s called UCAS (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) and is generally the easiest way for you to get into a UK-based institution.

You can apply for up to a maximum of five universities through this one online portal.

You can read a detailed guide on how to apply through UCAS here: https://www.ucas.com/undergraduate/applying-university/filling-your-ucas-undergraduate-application

Writing a personal statement

If you’re applying through UCAS, you’ll need to include a personal statement as part of your application. The personal statement is one of (if not the most) important parts of your university application in the UK.

It’s a chance for you to tell the unis about yourself and why you should study with them. Keep in mind that you will only submit one statement that goes to all the unis you apply to.

See some tips on writing a personal statement here: https://www.ucas.com/undergraduate/applying-university/writing-personal-statement/how-write-personal-statement

Getting a reference

You’ll also need to include a reference in your application. This is a written recommendation from a teacher, careers adviser, or professional who knows you academically. Everyone needs a reference unless you get permission from your chosen universities and colleges.

Find out more about references here: https://www.ucas.com/undergraduate/applying-university/how-get-ucas-undergraduate-reference

Your exam results

Because Australian schools run on a different schedule to schools in the UK (their academic year begins in September and ends in June/July), you’ll need to manually submit your results to the universities once you receive them. Some universities will ask for your results as soon as you submit your application, while others may conduct a preliminary assessment before asking for proof of your results.

If you haven’t received your results yet, you’ll need to supply predicted results instead.

You might be asked to attend an interview

Part of your application might include attending an interview. This is an important step in the process, so being prepared is crucial.

You can find out more about the interview process here: https://www.ucas.com/undergraduate/after-you-apply/undergraduate-interview-invitations

Make sure you apply before the 2024 entry application deadlines

Like here in Australia, you’ll need to get your applications in on time. Late applications aren’t accepted, so if you miss out you’re going to have to wait until next year (which isn’t the end of the world as you’ll be able to take your time choosing subjects, work to save up some money, or take a Gap Year).

  • Applications are open now for 2024 study – they opened on 16 May this year.
  • 16 October 2023 at 18:00 (UK time) early applications close for 2024 entry to any course at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, or for most courses in medicine, veterinary medicine/science, and dentistry. You can add choices with a different deadline later, but don’t forget you can only have five choices in total.
  • 31 January 2024 at 18:00 (UK time) equal consideration applications close for 2024 entry to the majority of courses.
  • TBC June 2024 at 18.00 (UK time) is the last chance for you to have your applications sent to the university of your choice. Any applications received after this date will go through the clearing system (see below).
  • TBC September 2024 at 18.00 (UK time) is the final deadline for applications to 2024 courses.
  • TBC October 2024 is the dealing for adding Clearing choices

If you need a hand remembering dates, keep track with this handy timeline we’ve made:

Once you’ve submitted your UCAS application, you can track your progress here: https://www.ucas.com/undergraduate/after-you-apply/tracking-your-ucas-application

Types of offers

Once your application has been processed by the university, they will send you an offer. It can either be conditional (you need to meet extra requirements before it becomes certain), unconditional (you’re in as soon as you accept), or unsuccessful (unfortunately you didn’t get in during this round of applications).

Find out more about the different types of offers: https://www.ucas.com/undergraduate/after-you-apply/ucas-undergraduate-types-offer

Step 6 If you don’t get an offer you can still apply though Clearing

If you didn’t get an offer from any universities, all is not lost. UCAS has a process known as Clearing – a way for universities to fill any spots they have remaining after offers have been sent.

Once Clearing applications open (usually around July) search on the UCAS website for any courses available in Clearing, then either express your interest or contact the university directly to discuss your options.

Find out more about Clearing: https://www.ucas.com/undergraduate/results-confirmation-and-clearing/what-clearing

Step 7 Research and apply for any Scholarships, grants, and bursaries for international students

Just like here in Australia, universities and other providers in the UK offer a variety of scholarships and grants to help you fund your studies.

To find scholarships, the best place to look is on the website of the university you’re interested in or contact them directly.

See more about scholarships and financial support: https://www.ucas.com/finance/scholarships-grants-and-bursaries/scholarships-grants-and-bursaries-eu-and-international-students

Step 8 Plan where you’ll be living

If you get into a uni in the UK, the next thing you’ll need to do is find accommodation. Like here in Australia, you can choose between on-campus accommodation at the university, or private accommodation somewhere else.

UCAS has lots of great resources on finding accommodation here: https://accommodation.ucas.com/

Virtual Open Days and Expos

Before you start your applications, attending open days is a great way to get a feel for a university and ask any lingering questions you might have. Even if you’re on the other side of the world, you can always attend a virtual open day from the comfort of home.

Find open day events in the UK (including virtual) here: https://www.ucas.com/undergraduate/what-and-where-study/events-and-open-days

You can apply directly to universities as well

The same as here, in the UK lots of universities allow you to apply directly as well. If you know where you’d like to study, hop onto the uni website and look for their applications pages or head for the international students’ pages.

Contact them for more details about the process and what you’ll need to do to apply. They’re there to help you and will often have students who’ve been through the process to advise you.

Other resources

Get tips and advice (including average tuition fees and living costs) from other Australian Students who’ve studied in the UK from the British Council on their website: https://study-uk.britishcouncil.org/

Lots of universities have their own international student teams who you can contact for more help and advice.

You can also use services like AUG to find out more information; for a fee they can help you to apply as well.

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