Monday, 17 November 2014

Teacher Training: three things you need to know.....

Recently we asked all those who started graduate teacher training programmes in 2013 what advice they had for anyone thinking about taking up a career in teaching. Here’s some of the advice and tips they shared:

1. Research the different types of programmes

The most frequent response we received really hammered home the need to do research into what kinds of teaching programmes would be suitable for you.

If you’re unsure about the different teacher training routes, try our interactive quiz to get a better idea of the opportunities on offer.

When you think you know what kind of programme you’re interested in, find where to study it in our search tool.

2. Be organised

Get as much information about the training programme as possible by speaking to admissions tutors and careers advisers, and take advantage of any open days and events that are going on.

Make sure you know what the entry requirements are for the programme you’re applying for – some providers require you to pass a professional skills test before you apply so be sure to check this first.

Training providers usually conduct interviews before offering places, so be aware that you may need to attend one shortly after applying.

3. “It’s hard work but a rewarding experience”

One of the most frequent responses we had was that teacher training is hard work but ultimately a very rewarding experience. Although the application process and training may appear daunting to some, a high percentage of the responses we received highlighted just how rewarding they found the experience.

“It is the most challenging, rewarding, unpredictable job in the world. There is nothing I'd rather be doing.”

“It's the most rewarding job out there and you really can make a difference!”

Everything you need to know about applying for teacher training programmes is on our website at You can also download our free UCAS Teacher Training pack now.

If you have any questions then send us a message on Facebook or Twitter and we'll get right back to you!

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Help and advice for care leavers

Ben Jordan is the Senior Policy Executive at UCAS. Here he writes about why you’re asked whether you’re a care leaver on your application to university, and where you can find support if you have been in care.

Ben Jordan, Senior Policy Executive,
We aim to help people make informed choices that best suit their aspirations and abilities, and give them the best opportunity to succeed. We provide information and advice to around 670,000 university applicants each year, and of those there are people with a range of individual needs, including care leavers.

We know that there are a number of challenges faced by care leavers when progressing to university or college, so offering the chance to state whether you’re a care leaver on your application helps universities and colleges to offer support in a number of ways. 
Asking the question
To begin with, the question we ask in the personal details section is; 'Have you ever been in care?' If you respond 'Yes', we’ll ask how long you’ve been in care for. We’ve avoided using the statutory definition of a care leaver because we feel that by leaving it open we’re able to help all those who may need support. The question acts as a flag to universities and colleges, letting them know you have personal circumstances that may require extra support while you’re studying. They will often contact you to discuss the type of support you may need after they receive your application.

You also have the opportunity to provide information about your situation in the personal statement section of your application, although you can send details to the university or colleges separately if you prefer. 

For the 2015 application we have updated the help text for the 'in care' question to make it as clear as possible why you’re being asked, and to explain how universities and colleges may use this information.

Getting help
If you’re a care leaver or you’re helping someone who is, you’ll find lots of information and advice on our website to help you get support.

  • Information about the type of support offered by universities and colleges.
  • Details of the financial support available to care leavers.
  • Links to organisations that can offer further information, such as Buttle UK and The Who Cares? Trust, as well as a link to the Who Cares? Trust HE handbook.
  • A list of universities and colleges that have the quality mark for care leavers. 
  • A video with first-hand accounts from students who are care leavers.   

What do you think?
We will continue to support all applicants as they progress to higher education, including care leavers. If you have any ideas or suggestions about how we can best achieve this, please leave a comment below. 

Friday, 10 October 2014

15 October deadline: applying on time

To begin with, let’s just clarify exactly what this deadline is for. The 15 October deadline is only for applications to most medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine/science courses, as well as all courses at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Meeting the deadline means that your application will receive equal consideration from your chosen universities and colleges. You can still apply after the deadline, but your application won't be guaranteed to get equal consideration.

So what counts as meeting the deadline? Well it’s pretty straightforward – we must receive your completed application before 18:00 (UK time) on 15 October. That means you must have completed every section, and paid for and sent your application by this time. If you’re applying through your school or college, they must have sent it to us before this time too.

Don't wait until the last minute!
As with any kind of deadline, it’s never a good idea to wait until the last minute. Aim to send your application as soon as you can, that way you have enough time to overcome any issues you face.

Prepare to pay
If you’re applying independently you’ll have to pay for your application before you can send it. If you’re applying with your school then this is true for you too unless your school has agreed to let us bill them instead (you’ll know if this is the case because you won’t be asked to make a payment before you send your application to your referee).

So for the majority of you who will need to pay with a credit or debit card – make sure you know which card you’re going to use, and check there’s enough money in the account. You’ll need to pay either £12 (for one course) or £23 (for multiple courses).

A word of warning...If you enter invalid payment details five times you’ll be locked out from making any more attempts, and for security reasons you’d need to call us to unlock your account.

Give school enough time to review your application 
(This bit’s only for those of you applying with a school or college, so independent applicants can skip ahead.)

When you send your application to your school or college, the tutor assigned to you will read through your application and make sure you’ve entered everything correctly. If they spot a mistake, for example you’ve forgotten to add one of the subjects you’re taking; they might send it back to you to make changes.

Even if your application is completely error free, your school still needs more than a few minutes to get your application sent off. It’s unlikely that yours is the only application they need to approve and send, plus it’s possible they’ll only be looking to see which applications are ready during school hours. If you think you’re going to be sending your application to them close to the deadline, speak to your tutor about this in advance.

Remember: Simply sending it to your school or college before the deadline won't count as sending it on time; it has to be received by UCAS.

Remember your reference
However you request a reference (whether you're applying independently or through a school or college), you must have a reference included in your application before it can be sent to UCAS.

If you're applying independently and you’ve agreed with the universities that a reference is not required – read the information on the reference page of your application to see what to do. Only do this if you have definitely spoken to the universities you’re applying to and had confirmation that they don’t need to see a reference for you.

Know your login details 
To log into your application you’ll need your username and password, so if you’re going to be sending your application close to the deadline, make sure you definitely know your login details.

If you have problems logging in, read our blog post 'The five reasons why you can't log into your application (and how to overcome them)'.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Personal statements: quick-fire questions answered!

Got a question about writing your personal statement? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. We’re often asked about this section of the application, and chances are your question will be one we’ve heard from other students. Check out the answers to five of the most frequently asked questions below they're all from admissions staff at universities and colleges (the people who spend their time reading personal statements!)

1. When should I start?
  • "As soon as you can! Give yourself time to write it properly. Your first draft alone could take you a whole day to write." Amy Smith, Nottingham Trent University. 
  • "Set yourself a schedule. It will take longer than you think to write your personal statement and it is important that you allow time to review your work several times." Emily Bell, the University of Liverpool.

2. What are unis looking for?
  • "Don’t forget about the obvious! Why do you want to study your chosen course?  Hopefully it’s something you know the answer to and have taken a lot of time to think about so make sure you include it." Emma Powell, Edge Hotel School.
  • "Enthusiasm, motivation and focus about the subject you’re applying to. Mention extra- curricular activities, transferable skills and include what your future career plans are after your degree." Maxine Charlton, the University of York.
  • "Unis aren’t looking for a dictionary definition of a subject. They know what their degrees are about; they want to know what you understand and enjoy about the subject. Emily Bell, University of Liverpool.

  •  "The best personal statements effectively link examples of the student's extra-curricular activities with the university's entry requirements." Amy Smith, Nottingham Trent University.

3. How should I structure my personal statement?
  • "Put your notes in order according to what the course you're interested in is looking for. If you have any skills and experience relevant to the entry requirements, make sure you say so at the start of your personal statement." Amy Smith, Nottingham Trent University.
  • "First impressions aren’t everything – yes, a lot of personal statements start in the same way. However, don’t put so much prominence on writing a witty first line – having a good overall personal statement will make a much better impression." Emma Powell, Edge Hotel School.

4. What should I do when I've written it?
  • "Check it carefully! Get your teachers, friends, partner, work colleagues or someone else you trust to read it - out loud - to you. It's a great way to spot errors and make sure it makes sense." Amy Smith, Nottingham Trent University.
  • "Don’t forget to save an up-to-date copy somewhere.  If you are invited for an interview your personal statement is likely to be read by the person interviewing you and may be used as a starting point for questions.  Make sure you can remember what you wrote and back it all up if you are asked." Emma Powell, Edge Hotel School.

5. What other advice do you have?
  • "Do not mention a specific university. Unless you reveal otherwise, we will think that you really only want to come to us!" Emily Bell, the University of Liverpool. 
  • "Remember you have a lot to offer – you just have to write about yourself in a positive way and sell all the skills and experience that you have." Amy Smith, Nottingham Trent University.

Need more personal statement help? Visit and if you’re looking for somewhere to start, check out these 10 places to get personal statements pointers.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Become a UCAS Blogger!

Being a UCAS blogger is a great opportunity to showcase your writing skills, plus your posts will help others who are going through the same things as you. As a thank you, you’ll have the chance to enter regular competitions and exclusive prize draws.

If one of the following describes you and you’re interested in being a UCAS blogger, we want to hear from you!
  • You’re applying to universities or colleges in the UK
  • You’re a parent of someone who’s applying to universities or colleges in the UK
  • You’re about to start your first year at university or college in the UK
To register your interest, please complete this short questionnaire.

The closing date for entries is Wednesday 10 September. Good luck!