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Applying to Uni: Advice for Teachers

Uncertain on what the key dates for this university application cycle are? Follow our helpful timeline and ensure you know what dates to look out for over the coming months.

With all the uncertainty in the world at the moment, we understand that it can be difficult to keep on top of the key dates for the University application process. Follow our helpful timeline below to ensure your students don't miss any important deadlines.

To help make the process as easy as possible for your students for this year's 2021 application cycle and for the 2022 application cycle, we have highlighted a few key dates below for you to look out for over the coming months. We have also included some helpful definitions of common University application terms, which we hope you will find useful.

All of the latest updates to UCAS application deadlines can be found on the UCAS website - we advise keeping a close eye on this webpage over the next few months to ensure you don't miss any changes.

Plymouth College of Art students in Painting Drawing Printmaking studio

February - UCAS Extra

Extra is another chance for students to gain a place at university or college, between February and July. If a student has used all five of their choices on their original application and they’re not holding an offer, they'll be able to add another choice using Extra.

March - Student Finance England

This is when Student Finance England opens for funding applications. Part-time student funding will open later. Keep an eye on SFE social media pages for updates.

May - University/College decision deadline

This is when all decisions have to be made by universities/colleges for all applications submitted by the January deadline.

June - Reply Deadline

Once a student’s last university decision comes in, they must then reply to their offer. There are a few replies that students can make; Firm, Insurance and Decline. Firm is their first choice. Insurance is their back-up choice and they can also decline offers that they don’t want. For applications made by the January deadline, all replies must be made by June in order to be accepted onto the course.

July - Clearing Opens

Clearing is how universities and colleges fill up the spaces on their courses. From July – October, students can apply for a course using Clearing if they are not already holding an offer from a university or college, and the course still has places. It’s recommended that before making an application, the student contacts the university first to check they will be accepted through Clearing. Clearing choices can be added onto UCAS track. Once the university/college confirms this then the student will have a place on the course.

August - Results and Adjustment

A Level and GCSE results for this year have been confirmed as 10th August for A level results, and 12th August for GCSE results. On results days, students will receive confirmation of their place at a University, if they have met the remaining conditions of their offer. Adjustment also opens which is a chance for students to reconsider where and what to study - they can choose to swap their place for a different course.

October - Final UCAS application submissions for 2021 entry

Many Universities and Colleges, including Plymouth College of Art, will take applications through Clearing up until the end of October, if the course still has places.

Our Jewellery Studio is a large, open space with high ceilings and full length windows to flood the workshop with natural light. Along the windows sits jewellery work stations with tools.

May - UCAS Undergraduate Apply Opens

From May, students are welcome to register and begin their application but they won’t be able to submit it until September.

September - UCAS Undergraduate Submissions

From September, applicants are welcome to submit their completed undergraduate applications on UCAS.

January - UCAS Application Deadline

January is the equal consideration deadline for most university applications via UCAS. Please note that Medicine and Dentistry applicants have an earlier deadline.

The rest of the 2022 entry cycle then repeats the same as stated for 2021 entry. Please refer to UCAS for more information and a full list of key dates.

If you wish to chat to a member of the team about the application process, please email admissions@pca.ac.uk or WhatsApp us on 07722 744184


*These dates are correct from February 2021, please refer to the UCAS key dates page for the latest information.

Plymouth College of Art student in printing studio

Below we have put together a list of common words related to the UCAS application process and higher education and have provided you with a short description of what these words mean. If you've heard a word or phrase you don't know, check to see if it's on the list below.

  • Admissions

A team within a university that deals with the application process. The admissions teams provide support and guidance to applicants and potential applicants, from initial enquiry through to offer making and confirmation.

  • Adjustment

A UCAS service to find new courses, adjustment is a chance for your students to reconsider where and what to study. If they have had a conditional firm choice accepted from a university and made this into an unconditional firm choice, they could then swap their place for another course.

  • BA (Hons)

Bachelor of Arts. An undergraduate degree that sits within the creative arts. A Bachelor of Arts degree course is generally completed in three or four years, depending on the country and institution.

  • Bursary

A grant of money awarded to someone based on chosen criteria. The money you receive from a bursary can be used to pay for things such as, materials for your course, books and transport. This money doesn’t have to be repaid.

  • Clearing

This is the admissions process for later applicants. Clearing opens from July to October every year for late applications. Students can apply for a course using Clearing if they’re not already holding an offer from a university or college, and the course still has places. Students can use Clearing if they’re applying after 30 June, or if they didn’t receive any offers or if they didn’t meet the conditions of their offers.

  • Conditional Offer

An offer from a university that has certain conditions that still need to be met, such as achieving specific exam results or a minimum tariff. For most people, this means waiting for results day in summer to see if your exam results meet the conditions.

  • Credits

Credits are awarded on the successful completion of a module. A number of credits is assigned to each module of a university degree and these credits are then accumulated towards the total credit required for a programme of study and a qualification.

  • Unsuccessful application

An unsuccessful application means a university made the decision not to offer a student a place onto their course. The university will usually give them a reason for this decision. If their application is unsuccessful, they can still apply to other courses through Extra or Clearing.

  • Entry Requirements

The grades and UCAS tariff points required for entry onto a university programme. Sometimes particular A level or BTEC subjects are required too.

  • Firm Choice

This is a student’s first choice – The preferred university choice out of the universities applied for through UCAS.

  • Foundation

A foundation year is great if your student is unsure about taking a full degree. They can gain professional and technical skills to further their career when studying on a foundation course. These are normally completed within a shorter time frame than a full degree.

  • Grant

An amount of money that is awarded to someone based on specific criteria. Like a bursary, this money doesn’t need to be repaid. The money you receive from a grant can be used to pay for things such as, equipment and materials for your course, books and transport.

  • Portfolio

A portfolio is a collection of your work, which shows how your skills and ideas have developed over a period of time. It demonstrates your creativity, personality, abilities and commitment, and helps the college or university to evaluate your potential.

  • SFE

Student Finance England (SFE). The student loans company for English students.

  • Student Loan

A loan taken out from the Student Loans Company to help pay for university or college tuition fees and to help with living costs.

  • Tuition Fees

Tuition fees are charged by universities and colleges to study a degree. These fees cover key elements of a student’s course and academic experience, including access to facilities and core services such as student support and wellbeing.

  • UCAS

The University and College Admissions Service. An organisation that operates the application process for UK universities.

  • UCAS Tariff

UCAS Tariff points are allocated to qualifications. Many universities then use these points as part of their entry requirements. You can view the UCAS tariff point system here.

  • UCAS Track

A system run by UCAS that applicants can use to track their university applications.

  • Unconditional Offer

An offer from a university that is given to applicants who have met or succeeded the entry requirements. This offer may be based on the applicants exceptional interview, portfolio and potential to succeed and has no conditions attached to it. The applicants place is confirmed on the course.

  • Undergraduate

An undergraduate degree is the first level of degree study at university such as a Bachelor of Arts (BA). The length of an undergraduate course is usually 3 years but can be extended if a student wishes to have a placement year.

If you would like to discuss any of the above, please contact our team at schools@pca.ac.uk or WhatsApp us on 07722 744184.