How To Apply To UK Universities

The UK is a popular destination to study as it is home to some of the best universities in the world, including Oxford and Cambridge, along with the ‘Russell Group’ made up of 24 prestigious institutions, including UCL, LSE, Imperial, and more!

Why apply to UK universities?

  • Excellent academic reputation
  • Fantastic faculty support
  • Undergraduate research opportunities (Oxbridge)
  • Study abroad & internship programs
  • State-of-the-art facilities
  • World-leading professors

P.S. Often top university alumni 'recruit from within,’ meaning they actively recruit soon-to-be graduates from their former universities to employ at their current workplace. Facebook, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, Bloomberg and Amazon all actively recruit from top university campuses.

UK Universities
Top 10 UK Universities
RankUniversity
1University of Oxford
2University of Cambridge
3Imperial College London
4University College London (UCL)
5The University of Edinburgh
6The University of Manchester
7King's College London
8The London School of Economics
9The University of Warwick
10University of Bristol

QS World 2022 Rankings

Key differences between US and UK universities

The US and UK offer a variety of options when it comes to studying at some of the finest institutions around the world. Here are some highlights of each education system to help you decide which path is best for you:

US vs UK University System
US Education SystemUK Education SystemBoth
Flexibility due to a unique liberal arts educationA focused and in-depth approach to learningUnrivalled resources and professions at top universities
A wide range of clubs, activities, and extracurricularsFinancial assistance less significant due to lower costsGlobal reputation and recognition as leaders in higher education
Various scholarships and financial aid opportunitiesShorter path to some professions (e.g. law, medicine)Access to elite graduate and internship opportunities
Ability to compete athletically at an elite level with recruitment & scholarshipsThe tutorial system at top UK universities such as Oxford and CambridgeExtensive alumni network and low student-faculty ratio

What kind of students are UK universities looking for?

They actively seek students who will contribute unique and exciting perspectives to their campuses. Every year, hundreds of students apply to top universities in the UK, which means strong competition; meeting the minimum entry requirements is no longer enough to guarantee a spot at a top UK university.

UK Universities requirements

How to apply to UK universities

The UK University and College Admission Service (UCAS) is the application used when applying to universities in the UK.

Before beginning your UCAS application, you must know exactly what you want to study, as there isn’t much wiggle room in the UK curriculum to change courses once you have started your study.

Once you know what you want to study, register for an account online and fill out your personal details (i.e. your name, phone number, address, email address etc).

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Application Requirements

The UCAS application only allows you to apply to a maximum of five universities. You can apply for courses in multiple subject categories; however, this will become difficult when you start to write your personal statement as one essay is sent to all universities.
Educational History
1. Educational History
UK entrance exams
2. UK Entrance Exams
Essay requirements
3. Personal Statement
Extracurriculars
4. Supercurriculars
Letters of recommendation
5. Reference Letter
University Selection
6. Interviews
Slide 1 of 6
  • Educational History

    Educational History

    Depending on what programme you are looking at, the entry requirements vary. Check out each universities website for their grade requirements for each course.

    Below is a rough guideline of the grades required from both Cambridge and Oxford. Grade requirements change based on course selection.

    Oxford vs Cambridge Entry Requirements

  • UK entrance exams

    UK Entrance Exams

    Medicine: BMAT and UCAT

    Students applying to study medicine at Cambridge or Oxford are required to sit the BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) and other universities require the United Kingdom Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT), both testing areas such as scientific knowledge and application, aptitude and skills, and concept analysis and critical thinking.

    Law: LNAT

    Students seeking admission to Oxford or Cambridge Law will sit the Law National Aptitude Test (LNAT). This exam tests a student’s verbal and reasoning skills, ability to interpret information, deductive and reasoning abilities and ability to analyse information and draw conclusions.

    TSA

    The Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA) measures your ability in critical thinking and problem solving, skills that are essential for success in higher education.

    MAT

    The Mathematics Admissions Test (MAT) is a test used by the University of Oxford to assess the aptitude of students applying for undergraduate degree courses in Mathematics, Computer Science, and their joint degrees.

    TOEFL/IELTS

    If English is not your first language or your school doesn’t teach in English as their primary language then you will need to provide your English proficiency in your application. 

    The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and IELTS (International English Language Testing System) are two of the most widely-accepted tests to certify your English proficiency.

  • Essay requirements

    Personal Statement

    The goal of your UCAS personal statement is to address what you have done that demonstrates interest in your course, what you hope to achieve with your UK university course, and what you hope to do after your course. This is your chance to showcase your passion and understanding of your chosen subject, separate from your exam results.

    The length of your personal statement will be limited to 4,000 characters, 47 lines, or roughly 600 words.​ Do not exceed the character limit for your personal statement as UCAS will not be able to process this.

    Check out our eBook to learn more on how to craft the perfect personal statement.

  • Extracurriculars

    Supercurriculars

    Supercurricular activities are things you do to explore subjects and develop your academic skills beyond your school studies.

    These include reading, podcasts, online courses, research, relevant work experience or volunteer work, writing, projects, debating, and other activities revolving around your academic interests.

    Check out our eBook to learn more about how to use your Supercurriculars to boost your UK application.

  • Recommendation letters

    Reference letter

    Your reference letter is required to give admissions officers a better idea of who you are as a student. It’s best to pick a teacher in the subject area you wish to study to write a reference letter for you.

  • University selection

    Interviews

    Interviews are a great way for a university to get to know you better, see how well you can articulate your ideas in person, and figure out if you are a good fit for your chosen course.

    For UK universities, especially in the case of Oxbridge, the interview is conducted like a verbal test. In these tests, the interviewer is assessing your academic potential and your passion for your chosen course. The interview replicates the tutorial/supervision, the main teaching style at Oxbridge, and is therefore assessing your fit for this learning experience.

    For example, an English student may have to discuss a poem in their interview whereas a mathematics student will spend time solving a complicated equation.

UK tuition fees

Students from the UK

Students pay £9,250 a year for full-time study, which is covered by a student loan. You can also apply for a maintenance loan to cover some of the cost of your accommodation and food bills.

  • Tuition Fee Loans, to cover the full cost of your course, are paid directly to the course provider, and you won’t have to pay it back until after your course when you’re earning above a certain level.
  • Maintenance Loans can be applied for at the same time, lending you money at the start of each term (or monthly in Scotland). How much you get depends on your household income, where you study, where you live, and how long for.

Taken from the UCAS website.

Students from the EU

EU and other EEA and Swiss nationals will no longer be eligible for home fee status in the UK and will have to pay between £27,840 and £39,010. However, there are some scholarships available; you can find some of them below.

University Scholarships

University of Nottingham

The University of Nottingham offers ‘’Undergraduate Excellence Awards’’ for high-achieving scholars from around the world. Applications close in April every year. The University also offers sport scholarships for successful sportsmen.

University College of London

The University College London has its own scholarship finder. There are plenty of options for international students.   Students can explore in detail what possibilities are available to them based on their subject interests and background.

University of Bristol

The University of Bristol provides a list of International scholarships to help the best and brightest overseas students, including those from the EU, study at the University of Bristol. From Economics, Policy studies to Accounting and Finance, they offer from £5,000 to £10,000 per year, depending on the subject.

University of Sheffield

The University of Sheffield offers International Undergraduate Merit Scholarship from £2,000 to £2,500 to international students, depending on their course. Use their student funding calculator as a guide to available funding and financial support, including scholarships offered in your chosen department or faculty.

University of Brighton

The university offers a number of merit-based international undergraduate scholarships each year. They also offer sports scholarships. More information can be found here.

University of Manchester

The University of Manchester offers a variety of scholarships and bursaries for undergraduate international students. There are subject-specific awards, travel awards, and university funding.

Warwick University

Warwick University has a list of scholarships for international students by country that are available for students outside of the UK and EU.

Durham University

Durham University offers The International Excellence Scholarship to international students of outstanding academic ability.

University of Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh offers three different types of undergraduate scholarships to international students: The Edinburgh Global Undergraduate Mathematics Scholarships for Math students, Robertson International Scholarships for History, Classics and Archaeology students, and the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies International Scholarship for Veterinary students.

University of Leicester

The University of Leicester offers a variety of scholarships for non-EU undergraduate students, such as The President’s Undergraduate Scholarship Scheme and the College of Science and Engineering Undergraduate Scholarship Scheme, but on top of that, they offer bursaries and discounts as well.

Key application stages & deadlines for UK universities

Many students find the US application process complicated. By breaking down the steps into manageable pieces, you will find the process much less daunting and straightforward. Check out the chart for a complete US admission preparation timeline.

Some helpful extras

UK tools

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