Applying to University Tips

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Research is key to applying for a University place, according to recruitment team at Staffordshire University.

Never has 'homework' taken on such importance, but fortunately there's a whole world of advice designed to help you make choice that's right for you and here the team at Staffordshire University share with you their top tips for making a successful application.

Firstly, the basics. Unless you want to study part-time or via distance learning, all full-time undergraduate students should apply through UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service - THE central organisation that processes applications on behalf of all UK universities.

All applications for admission to full-time degrees, DipHE, foundation degrees and BTEC, HND courses must be made online through UCAS and to complete your application, you'll need the correct UCAS course code for each course you're applying for. You'll also need an Institution Code - the Institution Code for Staffs is S72.

You can choose to apply to UCAS for up to five different courses. If you choose just one course at one university or college, the fee is £11 whereas if you enter more than one choice in the course section your application fee is £21.

What do you want to study?

There are many things you should consider when deciding what to study and where - but what your best friend's doing shouldn't be one of them!

  • Make a list of courses/universities you would like to apply for
  • When considering universities, be realistic about whether you can afford to move away from home, what the living costs are going to be and any travel implications
  • Take into account your predicted grades as entry requirements will differ across courses and institutions and some courses are notoriously difficult to get into
  • Familiarise yourself with the fee levels and bursaries/fee waivers which apply. For example Staffs has adopted a variable fee structure which means it charges different fee levels for different courses whereas others have opted for a fixed fee
  • This is your future, so make the decisions that are right for you and don't be swayed by what a friend may do
  • Grade your list and think through which course/uni would be your first choice, second choice, etc -  
  • Ask family members, teachers, lecturers and careers staff for advice now if you feel you need it

Research your course

University websites, prospectuses and the UCAS website are the best sources of information about undergraduate courses offered by all Universities.

But the more discerning might want to delve deeper and contact course tutors to clarify course information and to visit online communities to see what other students have to say about the courses, the University campuses, halls of residence and surrounding areas.

Many online University Guides now offer prospective students the opportunity to rate what's important to them as individuals - be it employability ratings, cost of living, good Students Union etc.

Open Days

Possibly the best indicator - the clincher - in deciding what University you want to attend is the Open Day. Staffordshire University's general Open Days are aimed, in the main, at students who are considering which University to short-list to put on their UCAS form. 

And we think it's essential for you to get a look and feel for the place first-hand. Open Days allow you to view accommodation and facilities, talk to staff and students and learn more about your chosen subject area.

After you have completed your application form and we have had time to consider it, we will write to you and notify UCAS of our decision.

You will be given details of our Open Days and invited to visit us around the time you receive an offer letter. In some cases, you may be invited to attend an interview before we decide whether to offer you a place.

And so having received your offers and confirmed your choice, it's a case of knuckling down to get your grades....and that nail-biting wait for results! 

If you get them, then its full steam ahead. If not, then it could well be the point where your early research pays off.


Even if you don't quite make your grades, it may still be possible for you to be offered a place on your chosen course and you should ring your university for advice right away.

However, it's important to note that the clearing process gives thousands of students a second chance to find a place in higher education.

If you go through UCAS clearing and decide to contact a University again, don't delay and remind them that you applied to them during the first phase. Most universities prefer to consider students who made an application first time round!

Useful contacts: For general enquiries, you can contact the UCAS Customer Service Unit at 0871 468 0468. This is open from Monday to Friday, 8:30am - 6pm (UK time). You can also email for an automated response with general information and guidance on the UCAS procedures.