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The UCAS Process

What is UCAS?

UCAS is the central body responsible for processing applications to university.  Pupils will submit online applications through the UCAS system and these applications are then issued to the universities.  Once a decision has been made in relation to your application, universities will send a response directly to you whilst also updating the central UCAS system.  Your Head of House is able to track your progress through the system and will record any offers within our Senior Destination Tracking.  


The UCAS Journey

The process can be a daunting and stressful one to go through.  Pupils are making decisions that could shape their future career paths and therefore it is important that they make correct and informed decisions about where to apply and what to study.  Below is a brief guide as to what will happen over the course of a UCAS application year -


June to September


Pupils will begin the UCAS process in June and should start to carry out research into the courses they would like to do and universities they would like to attend.  Open Days will begin to run over this period and pupils have the opportunity to visit various universities.  Open Days will run during the school week and also at weekends therefore, there are plenty of opportunities to visit.  The school will also attend the UCAS Higher Education Convention at Stirling University where a number of representative from various establishments will be available to speak to pupils.


September to January


Between these dates, you will be applying to study the courses you are interested in at the universities of your choice.  Falkirk High School aim to complete the process prior to the pupils going on holiday for Christmas however, the final deadline is generally within the second week in January. 



Deadline for some courses

Some courses, like Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary and courses at Oxford and

Cambridge have an early application deadline. You’ll need to check this when doing your research – university prospectuses or websites will state if this is the case.  Any pupil who is planning to study Medicine must complete a UKCAT Test.  This process is independent of UCAS and has to be organised through UKCAT.  Applications to study medicine for the majority of universities will not be accepted without this.




December to end of March

Offers and Acceptance

During this time, universities will be looking at applications and making decisions on whether to offer applicants a place. When all the universities you have applied to have made a decision, they will ask you to decide which of their offers you want to accept.  Offers will come in the form of Unconditional and Conditional.  A conditional offer will set targets that the pupil must achieve to gain entry to the university.  Pupils are able to select a firm offer and a backup offer. 


Second week in January

Main UCAS deadline

All UCAS forms must be submitted by the date outlined by UCAS, this will generally fall within the 2nd week in January. Obviously, the earlier pupils submit the form, the greater your chance of getting onto your chosen course. For Art and Design courses, there are two possible deadlines - either the middle of January or towards the end of March depending on which Universities you apply to. If you are thinking of applying for Art and Design courses, it is important that you check the UCAS website or contact the relevant University to find out the correct deadline for applications.


March to June

UCAS Extra

Pupils can have the opportunity to apply to further courses if their initial applications are not successful.  If pupils have used all five choices on the UCAS application and have not had any offers of a place on a course or, if you have declined all of your offers, then UCAS Extra is the opportunity to apply to universities who may have places on the course that pupils are interested in.


Financial Input

Pupils will receive information within Falkirk High School between February and March in relation to what happens next in the UCAS process, advice on funding and finance and also information on moving away from home etc.  A guest speaker will generally deliver this presentation.



Higher Results and Clearing

There are occasions when pupils do not meet the conditions set by the universities.  Some universities may accept the pupil with grades which may not quite achieve the conditions set but are relatively close to them.  Alternatively, pupils may not be successful in securing their place but can then apply through the UCAS Clearing system.  This allows universities to match pupils to courses where there are spare places available.


Adjustment Process

If, on results day, you do better than expected and your grades exceed the conditions of your firm choice university, you may have five days to change to a different university and/or course.