UCAS word cloud

If you’re not one of those inherently organised individuals who sent of their UCAS form some time before Christmas, there’s no need to panic. Luckily for you, it’s not too late and you can still apply for university starting in the Autumn. Disaster averted. 

If you’re currently at Sixth Form or College it’s likely that last term they would have been nagging you to get your application in as quickly as possible. However, whether it’s illness, your heady social life, juggling those two part-time jobs, or pure procrastination, there’ll always be those who miss the January 15th deadline. 

In fact, ‘deadline’ is perhaps not quite the right term for the date in question - the date serves as an ‘equal consideration’ deadline. After 15th January, you can still apply, however the universities you’ve applied to don’t have to review your application and you’ll only be considered if there is space on your chosen course. 

Prior to 15th January, universities are expected to give equal consideration to every application they receive. However, once the deadline passes, universities are free to start allocating places, starting with those who applied by 15th January.

After the 15th spaces on courses will fill up, so whether a university will accept your application will depend on how competitive the course is, whether there are any spaces and how well qualified you are. 

Stay calm!

If your application is received any time between January 15th and June 30th your application will still be considered. Although you are no longer guaranteed ‘equal consideration’ this doesn’t automatically put you at a disadvantage, and it doesn’t mean that you won’t find at least 4 or 5 universities out there who are still willing to accept your application.

Don’t just apply to any university that catches your eye without doing any research at all - you’ll be spending three years there so you want to make sure it’s the right fit for you. 

Choosing your university

Although choosing a university can feel a little rushed, there are a few ways in which you can decide which universities you may like to go to. 

If you’ve a little free time on your hands universities hold campus tours, generally every week or every two weeks. At a campus tour you can get a feel for the university and the city, meet some of the students and see the accommodation and other facilities. Failing that, you can always visit the university by yourself and walk around campus. 

If travelling is out of the question, many universities have ‘virtual open days‘ in their website where you can get an understanding of the university and a feel of student life there. You’ll see what students say about the place and whether you will fit in with this.

Choosing your course

Not all courses will be open to you after 15th January. This is especially true of more popular courses, so you may want to think outside the box when considering a degree subject. For example, Psychology may be popular and full, however Psychology combined with another subject such as Economics, Philosophy or Criminology might be less popular. Or another similar course, such as Cognitive Science, might also have received fewer applications. Research the details of these other courses, and you might find something there that suits your goals and interests. 

A young professional woman talking on her mobile in front of her laptop in an office

Do your research and check whether you chosen universities have courses still open for applications. 

Checking what's on offer

After 15th January the UCAS website displays courses that are still open. Those that are available to apply for are marked with an ‘x’ and those that are closed to new applications are marked with a ‘c’. However, course availability is changing all the time, so by the time you apply you’ll need to double check with the universities you are interested in as to whether they’ll accept your application. 

This means that you’ll need to give them a bell. As well as finding out whether there’s space on your chosen course, you can also get an insight into whether the university seems right for you. 

During the phone call you’ll have to tell them a bit about yourself, explain your circumstances and your predicted grades. You can also discuss your options, as most universities have a dedicated help and advice team. This team will also tell you whether they would consider you. If they say yes then you can apply, but if they say no look for somewhere else to apply to. 

When to submit your application

You may be rushing to finish it, but in fact it may be beneficial to hold back and not submit an application in the days following the January deadline. This is because universities will still be processing their applications at this point and may not know how many spaces they’ve got and whether or not they can consider any more applications. 

So if you hold out to mid-to-late February, universities will start to notify UCAS whether they will be submitting any courses to UCAS Extra. This gives you a better idea of what’s still out there.

And once you’re past late February, you’d best get your application in as soon as possible to give yourself the best chance of success. The remaining places won’t hang around forever, and from now on it’s first come first serve. 

The new deadline is 30th June - this is the last date you’ve got to submit an application for immediate consideration, and after this you’ll be entered into Clearing. 

Your application

Your UCAS application will be no different to any other if you are applying late and, in the same way, time spent putting together a really good application will pay off. 

If you’ve special circumstances surrounding your application which meant that your submission could not be completed on time, let the university know through your referee. This makes it more likely for your chosen universities to considered your application. 

You might also want to mention how the extra time has helped in relevant areas, for example you may have had more time to do voluntary work or relevant work experience. 

Receiving offers

Once you have received all your offers, you will have until July 24 to reply. If you fail to do so, UCAS will decline these offers on your behalf and you’ll be entered to Clearing.

If it’s a little too rushed

If you’ve got your heart set on one of those ultra-competitive courses like Psychology or Law, or a top Russell Group institution, and going to university just wouldn’t be the same without either factor, it may be best to withdraw your application and apply again for next September with a little bit more organisation. In this way, you’ll be able to apply for whatever course and university you want.