What If I’ve Missed the January UCAS Deadline?


January 31st 2024 is an important milestone in the university application calendar. It’s the deadline for students applying for most courses in UK universities to get their UCAS application in.

The only exceptions are:

  • If you have applied to Oxford or Cambridge or you have applied to study medicine, veterinary medicine or dentistry – your application deadline was back in October 2023.
  • If you are applying for a course within art and design that has a designated deadline of March 2024. Check with the universities you’re applying to if you’re unsure of the application deadline date. 

Colleges throughout the UK will have been getting their students geared up for this deadline from well before Christmas but there will always be cases where the unexpected happens – illness, pure oversight or some major problem at college – and some students miss the January UCAS deadline. If this is you, you need to take two straightforward steps.

Step 1: Don’t panic

Whatever the reason for your application being late, the first thing to realise is that missing this deadline is not the disaster you probably think it is. Stay calm – this doesn’t mean that your university application for 2024 has failed.

Step 2: Get your application done

Some students do have a very good reason that their application has not been sent in on time. Don’t worry – get your details together and progress as soon as you can. Get your referee to explain what has happened in a letter to your chosen universities (see below).

If you don’t have a good reason, look at missing the January deadline as a wake-up call. If you have been a bit too laid back, or just downright lazy, or your college has not given you the right help, get a grip. Go to see the tutor responsible for UCAS applications, or the principal if that’s what it takes. Get all the details ready and make sure you get your application to UCAS through the online submission form as soon as possible.

What happens to late applications?

In reality, UCAS sends all applications received after January 31 to your chosen universities, as it would have done prior to that deadline.

The difference is, after January 31, the universities you have specified don’t have to review your application – but be reassured that many of them do anyway. In fact, if your application is received any time between January 31 2024 and June 30 2024, UCAS will send your application through to your chosen institutions and your application may still be considered.

If there are special circumstances surrounding your application and that meant your submission could not be done on time, get your referee to give all the details. This will make it more likely that your chosen universities will be prepared to look at your application.

What if you miss all the deadlines?

If you miss the deadlines for your UCAS application, you can still apply. The difference is that UCAS will then not send your application on to your choices – but it will put your application into Clearing. Most people think that Clearing is something that only happens after results day in August but applications are received into Clearing any time from July 5th.

So if you spend all year thinking that you don’t want to apply to uni and then have a change of heart in July or even early August, you can still get your application in, go through Clearing and end up with a university place for September/October!

Very late applications through Clearing

  • Apply to UCAS using the online submission form and wait for results day.
  • Follow the UCAS instructions to proceed through Clearing and review what’s happening through the UCAS Track system.
  • Follow it through. If you have applied late and you know you will be depending on Clearing to get a place, make sure you are at home (not on holiday during results week) and available to speak to university admissions tutors and get your future sorted.