Applying to UK universities can be a challenging process; writing essays,
navigating application portals, sitting standardised tests and keeping your
nerve during interviews all takes preparation. Yet more Australian students are
realising that the opportunities abroad are a springboard for success.
However, studying a degree overseas isn't for everyone. It's a decision that requires consideration, long-term planning and support from family and the school community.
Three key tips:
1. Start researching early - Year 10 or 11 is ideal
2. Establish a timeline (and stick to it!)
3. Gather support to enable your goals
This guide aims to equip you with key information regarding the UK university application processes.
With more than 500,000 international students, the UK is second only to the
US in attracting overseas talent.
The UK is regarded by many as the place to be if you are passionate about a subject given its more vocational degree structure and in-depth learning time with professors.
As a result, the application process is heavily weighted to academics and showing your passion for a particular field of study.
The majority of undergraduate courses in the UK are for three years.
For more information on the UK application process, download this free eBook written by Crimson Education consultants.
The majority of universities in the UK use the UCAS platform. You can apply to a maximum of five colleges with UCAS.
Applying Rounds and Application Strategy:
The application deadlines are more simple for the UK. Students applying to Oxford or Cambridge and any other vet science course, med school or law school have a deadline of October 15. For all other colleges and programs, there is a January 15 deadline. There is some flexibility on this but to give yourself the best chance of being admitted, be on time.
A typical strategy is to apply to one of either Oxford or Cambridge (you can't apply to both), 1-2 match colleges most likely from the group of 24 universities called the Russell Group, and 1-2 safety colleges.
|The personal statement for the UK is similar to the US in that it's a great
chance to make yourself stand out from other high achieving students and have
your unique story told. It's important to address three key areas in your
personal statement to UK universities and they are:
1. Why you want to study in the UK
2. Your English language skills
3. Why you want to be an international student rather than
studying in your own country
The UK personal statement has a maximum of 4000 characters and it's good to show
your passion for whatever course or subject area you're applying for by working
in information on extracurricular activities, leadership initiatives and awards.
Unlike the US and Australia, you are required to take specific exams in the UK depending on what course you are applying for. For example, to apply for economics courses, you need to take the TSA (Thinking Skills Assessment), for law, you need to take the LNAT, for med, you need to take the BMAT and so on. There are approximately 50 different tests to choose from.
You can only take the tests once and testing dates are held near the end of the year.
The UK also pays close attention to your final high school marks. For example, to have your application reviewed by Oxford or Cambridge, you will have to score an ATAR of 98.5 or above.
The UK interview process is considerably more difficult than the US interview as it is usually conducted by a team of professors rather than an alumni. Expect tough questions such as 'How many pianos are in Vienna?' given to a student who was applying for a land economy course. The answer is not that important, what is important is for the professors to be able to see your thinking process and logic.
It is advantageous to attend the interview in person but if you are unable to do so, interviews are also conducted over video calls but expect it to be a challenge.
|References and Academic Transcripts:
The majority of universities will ask you to provide two written references. These are commonly sourced from a school teacher, sports coach or community leader. It is your responsibility to make sure you ask for these references well in advance and provide your referees with all the necessary information about your achievements and interests.
Universities also commonly ask to see your academic transcripts from Year 9 through to Year 12. You can request official transcripts from your school.
As a general guide, UK applications are weighted as follows:
70% Academics (required tests, high school marks and academic transcripts)
20% Application Essays and Interview
10% Extracurricular and Leadership Activities
The admissions rates of top universities in the UK range between 18-25%. While this may seem easier to get into than US universities, this is due to the UK's tough academic requirements to have your application even considered.
The costs of studying in the UK as an international student can be more expensive than the US due to the exchange rate and the absence of a financial aid process. University websites can give estimates based on different universities, courses and any available scholarships.
If you have dual citizenship between Australia and the UK, it unfortunately does not help unless you are ordinarily living in the UK for at least three years prior to your application.
Other Reasons to Consider Overseas Study:
|Employability||Students attending top-ranked universities may not have to go looking for a job after the degree as the jobs come to them. World-leading companies such as Goldman Sachs, Bain and McKinsey & Co actively recruit on-campus at top universities. See university employability rankings for more information.|
|Facilities||What sets top universities apart from the rest of the world are the exceptional facilities they have. This could be cutting edge science labs through to professional level sport facilities. Whatever your passions are, find the university that has concentrated its investment in that particular field.|
|Professors||Top universities are also top research institutes. This means that places like Stanford University have 19 Nobel laureates on staff. If you have a specific passion for a subject, research the best professors in the field and apply for universities they teach at. In some cases, it may be a university you had never even heard of.|
|Alumni Network||Top-ranked universities are well-known for having an extensive and supportive alumni network which runs even deeper if you happen to be members of the same clubs and activities.|
|Lifestyle||And finally there is the on-campus lifestyle. This includes everything from the hundreds of extracurricular clubs on campus, the fraternities and sororities and the unique university spirit in the US to the collegiate life and sense of history in the UK.|
Further Research Links:
QS World University Rankings
Times Higher Education Rankings
Forbes - US Colleges Only
Crimson Education Blog
College Board - register for SAT tests
ACT - register for ACT tests
This information was provided to you by Crimson Education, a global mentoring company specialising in the US & UK admissions process, sport scholarships, local med school entry and tutoring for high school curriculums. In Australia, Crimson Education has offices in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Support is provided online and the initial consultation with an Academic Advisor is free.