Applying to University

Applying  to Attend University

If you have reached this page then you are, in all likelihood, a St. Ninian’s High School pupil (or parent) who is seeking information with regards to how to apply for University. At St. Ninian’s High School we are justifiably proud of the academic success that we provide each year for our young people, and enrolling to a higher learning institution is a fantastic way in which to make use of your qualifications. The United Kingdom has some of the best and most prestigious Universities in the world and acquiring a degree in a subject that interests you can be an extremely rewarding experience, as well as being a gateway to various career opportunities later in life. All applications must be made to the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

Application Timetable

Before you begin your application you will first of all have to do some groundwork, in terms of deciding what course you would like to apply to and what qualifications you will require in order to do so. Therefore it is a good idea to start preparing well in advance of the application deadline. The deadline will vary depending on which course it is that you are applying for, although most schools will suggest that you have made your application through UCAS by the end of November so as to allow the school an adequate amount of time to write references, check personal statements and confirm pupil choices. We suggest that pupils complete the following activities by the dates below:

March to September: During these months pupils should be researching what courses they would like to study and which Universities they would like to attend. One of the best ways to do this is to attend the various University Open Days, conferences and conventions that take place during these months. St. Ninian’s High School will make pupils aware of these trips and so it is our responsibility to decide which Open Days you wish to attend.

Mid-September: Applications to UCAS can be made from mid-September.

Mid October: The date by which applications to UCAS must be made for pupils wishing to attend either Oxford or Cambridge University. This is also the date by which applications must be made for pupils who want to study Medicine, Dentistry or Veterinary science/medicine in any University.

Late November: Unofficial deadline that most schools and colleges set for UCAS applications, as detailed above.

Mid January: This is the deadline for applications to all other courses other than those set for the 15th October deadline. Applications that are submitted after this date are usually still accepted, although they are marked as “late”. This does not set a good impression to those who will be deciding whether or not to accept you into your chosen course and so you are very much encouraged to apply by the official deadline!

End of March: If you applied to UCAS before the official deadline of 15th January then Universities and Colleges aim to have supplied UCAS with their decision by this date. Depending on circumstances, however, this may not always be the case.

Begining of May: If UCAS did indeed receive confirmation of the decision made by Universities by the aforementioned 31st March then prospective candidates must have responded to UCAS, with regards to whether or not they wish to accept any offers, by this date. If UCAS does not receive any conformation by this date then they will decline on your behalf. It is therefore crucial that if you want to accept an offer by a University that you reply by the 8th May.

Begining of August: SQA Results are published and the Clearing process begins. Details as to how the Clearing process works are outlined below in the section titled “Clearing”.

September: This is the last date that UCAS will normally accept applications for courses starting in the same year. 


If, after all of the rigmarole of applying to University through UCAS, you find yourself without a University place as a result of not having been offered a place on a course, you will be eligible for Clearing. Clearing is the name given to the process of matching Universities without students to students without courses. It is in the best interests of Universities to fill up all of their available places, and so even if you have been unsuccessful in finding a place on a course you may still be able to find yourself a place through the Clearing process.

Whilst St. Ninian’s High School will assist you as best we can with regards to finding a place through Clearing, it is ultimately up to the prospective candidates themselves to find a place that is suitable for them. Often the best way in which to do this is to check a University’s website for vacancies and then simply telephone the University and tell them which course you would like to enrol in. A decision at this stage is usually delivered in a fairly prompt manner. If you do find yourself attempting to find a place in a University through Clearing then here are some points that should help you during the process:

  • Be in the country! Don’t go on holiday at this critical time. The course that you are interested in attending will not fall into your lap. You will have to be extremely proactive in terms of continually calling various Universities and speaking to them about the courses that you wish to attend.
  • Check the official Clearing listings in the national press, the UCAS website, or the websites of individual universities to find where there are vacancies in your subject. We recommend always using the official listings as they are always the most comprehensive and up-to-date.
  • Think about alternative courses (perhaps a joint course with another subject instead of a single subject course) to maximise the choice available. Start ringing possible universities straight away (places at good universities can be filled very quickly).
  • Always telephone yourself – universities are less impressed by people ringing on your behalf.
  • If you can’t get through, keep trying, but also send an email or fax.

There will be a few vacancies not listed in the official vacancy lists because the universities know they can fill them with speculative callers and do not need the extra calls generated by the vacancy lists. If there is somewhere you really want to go, it might just be worth ringing even if they are not in the lists. However, such vacancies will be taken within hours, at most within a day of the SQA results being published.


Applications to Universities within the United Kingdom should be made through UCAS, and the Online Application Procedure can be found here: ( This page takes you through the process of applying through UCAS in a simple, step-by-step manner, and you can apply from any computer in the world that has internet access.


Studying at University can be expensive and many Universities offer scholarships for students.

University Strathclyde click here

University of Glasgow click here


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