Apply for university

Last updated: 30 September 2019

You need to register with the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) before you can apply for university.

UCAS is the organisation that you'll apply for university courses through.

To register, you'll need to create an account using some of your personal details including your name, date of birth, address and email address.

Once you've registered, sign in and fill in the information needed for your application. This includes:

  • the rest of your personal details
  • funding for your course
  • your course choices - you can choose up to 5 courses
  • what you've studied up to now and your exam marks
  • a reference from a tutor, teacher, employer or volunteering supervisor
  • where you've worked including full and part-time jobs
  • your personal statement - an essay where you describe your ambitions, skills and experience

There's guidance on writing a personal statement on the UCAS website.

Find more information about how to apply on the UCAS website.


You'll pay a fee for applying with UCAS:

  • £12 for 1 course choice
  • £23 for more than 1 course choice (up to 5) or for late applications

When to apply

Most courses have a January deadline, but some may be earlier.

Make sure you check deadlines for your course or courses on the UCAS website. You can also ask your school or college to check.

If you're applying through your school or college, they may give you an earlier deadline. This is to give them time to write your reference and send off your application.

If you apply after the deadline, you may be entered into Clearing.

Clearing is the system universities and colleges use to fill empty spaces on courses. It runs from July to September.

Tracking your application

You can track your UCAS application by signing in to the UCAS website using your Personal ID.

Tracking allows you to:

  • find out if universities have made a decision
  • manage your course choices
  • receive interview invitations
  • reply to offers
  • add extra course choices

When to reply

If you get all your offers by:

  • 31 March – you must let UCAS know your decision by 4 May
  • 5 May – you must let UCAS know your decision by 8 June
  • 8 June – you must let UCAS know your decision by 23 June
If you don't reply to your offers in time, they may be declined.

If you want to defer your university place to take a 'gap year', you'll need to contact your university. They'll consider your application for deferred entry.

Other applying options

After you've submitted your UCAS application, you still have additional options to choose from. This depends on your circumstances and what offers you get.

If you don't receive any offers from 25 February you can use UCAS Extra for one extra course choice.

If you've had no offers, from 30 June you can use UCAS Clearing to get a course place.

If you've done better than you expected in your exams you could try UCAS Adjustment.

Support with your options

If you want to talk through your options, you can contact a careers adviser through Skills Development Scotland.

Part-time or distance learning

If you want to study part-time or through distance learning, you need to apply direct to the university.

You can search for part-time or distance learning courses on the UCAS or Unistats websites.