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UCAS - any good?

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21 Reviews

Tell us about your experiences with UCAS. Does the system work? How can it be improved? Or should we scrap it altogether and implement a new system?

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      18.08.2009 21:34
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      You won't have any problems

      I found the UCAS pricess "Apply" relatively easy - although it is fairly long. You need to have the following to hand:

      All your personal details (address, schools atteneded atc)
      All your qualifications
      What uni's you want to go, and their course cofes

      Also you need to write a personal statement. To do this, it is best to use Word, then you can edit it until you are happy with it. Then just paste it into the box on UCAS, since you only get 35 minutes to write the personal statement on UCAS itself, after this time it times-out. The process is not too bad, you just need all the stuff to hand (you don't want to end up applying for the wrong course!).

      After this, your teacher needs to write your reference. After this, the application needs to be "checked" by your co-ordinator. I'm not sure if this can be the same person who does your reference, for me it wasn't. Only then will your application be sent. This whole process, for me, took about 2 months. I never needed to call a UCAS helpline or anything as they have these videos explaining how to do things. It's good if you can include some hobbies/interests relevant to your course. If you have got certificates/qualifications that aren't relevant then I would still include them, it shows you're a rounded person. But for your personal statement try to include a reason why this is supporting your application for the course i.e. team-work etc.

      After that you can use Track - it shows you if any uni's have replied. You need to wait for all of them to reply before you can make a choice - this is what is not explained well on the site. If you really can't wait, then you need to cancel your application to any uni's that haven't yet replied. You can choose a firm and insurance choice - insurance being for if you don't get the grades. If you already have the required grades then I'm not sure if you can choose an insurance, I don't think you can since you know that you are in!

      Hope this helps - the UCAS process isn't as scary as it looks! It's applying for student finance, and the uni interviews (if needed for your course/uni) that are the hard parts! And then of course getting the grades to get in!

      Please note all this is relevant for those who applied for September 2009, or September 2010 if they chose to defer the year. Next year could be slightly different.

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      07.05.2009 19:05
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      Not bad, but could do more

      I think that UCAS is a great system and it really helped me through all the confusions of applying to university. The system lays everything out pretty simply and in different sections and makes applying significantly less stressful. Basically you fill out a series of forms, which cover everything from you address to your grades to your university course choices. There is also a section where you enter your personal statement. Once you have submitted your personal statement, you can then use the track system which will show you how universities have responded to your application and it lets you accept or decline offers.

      Though good, there were two things that I though it could improve on, given that the service cost £17. Firstly when entering grades, although it did have subjects in drop down lists, you had to type in module titles yourself. I would have preferred if these could have been in lists also. Secondly, I assumed signing up on ucas would cover applying for student finance, however it does not and it would be good if this could be implemented.

      Overall however, it seemed a good service.

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      08.01.2009 19:47
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      A love/hate relationship!

      I have a complete love/hate relationship with UCAS.
      Being in my final year at school, and applying for University, I've been using UCAS since the summer, and found it confusing to begin with.


      WHAT IS UCAS?
      ---------------
      www.ucas.ac.uk
      This is how you, usually, apply for university.
      Your 'UCAS application' is split into many different sections.

      'Personal Details' which is obviously, who you are, where you live, and just general necessary details about yourself.

      'Choices' in which you choose up to 5 Universities you wish to apply to, and the course in which you wish to do at them. I believe in medicine you can only choose up to 4, but I'm not entirely sure, as I applied for Drama and English!

      'Education' where you enter your GCSE's and AS Levels.

      'Employment' where you enter if you work anywhere. As I don't, I don't know what they do with this information!

      'Personal Statement' Oh the joys of a personal statement. The most irritating thing about a University application. You have around 47 lines, and I don't remember how many characters, to explain why you want to do your course, why you are suited to it, what you are like as a person, and other things you have done which would help you on this course. It sounds easy - it's not. 47 lines sounds like a lot, but it's not!

      So that's what UCAS contains.
      You also get a reference from your School or College which is what your teachers say about you, and why they think you are applying for the right course.


      The next bit is even harder. Once it's gone off, you're given a unique ID number, which means you can 'track' your application, to see when it's sent off and what happens with it. Once it's gone off for the first day or so it's just happiness that it's gone. However soon, everybody appears to get obsessed with checking to see if they have heard anything from their universities, and worrying when they haven't.

      The 'track' option on UCAS, I personally dislike. You sign in with your ID number and things and it comes up with different options. The one which you really need is 'Choices' where you can view your different universities and whether you have an offer or not. It says 'Conditional' 'Unconditional' or possibly 'Declined' I think although I haven't YET have any rejections so I'm not entirely sure.

      The thing which I don't like about the track section, is that it doesn't inform you if you get an interview... There is no 'interview' option, and this gets confusing. Having checked my UCAS yesterday, I thought I had only heard from two of my universities, but it turned out I had an interview from Queen Mary's which was not mentioned on my 'track' section... This is quite frustrating.

      Another thing I dislike, which is minor, is that when UCAS send you an email telling you there are changes to your application, they don't tell you what it is! I wish they did, it would save the 5 minutes of AHH I'M TOO SCARED TO LOOK!

      Anyway. UCAS.
      The system is alright.. It works, and it's acceptable, but there are some slight difficulties.
      Another thing, I realised, is that some of your University offers come in 'Tariff points' or 'UCAS points' these are SO confusing. Each grade you get equates to a number in a table... and so if you get a B for example, no matter how many marks you got for the B, you get the number of UCAS points for a B... instead of being worked out through your marks? But then the higher the B the theoretically higher it is to get a B at A2? It's SO confusing, so my explanation is probably terrible, so I apologise, but it is something I genuinely struggle to understand, and so I don't like that part of the A-Level/UCAS system!

      In general, UCAS makes life easier when it comes to applications. Being able to check things online and not having to rely on recieving letters telling you about your application is probably easier, it's just some aspects are more confusing than I would like!

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        08.01.2009 15:24

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        the only way to apply to uni is excellent - what a relief!

        If you've never been to university, then you are probably wondering what UCAS is. In short, it's the application program that you use to apply to the universities.

        It used to be an entirely paper form, which just seems like a nightmare to me. Can you imagine making one mistake and having to do the whole lot again?! These days it's all online which is much better and allows the applicants to amend their applications as much as they like before sending it off for the final time.

        It is quite a straightforward process and in my opinion everything is very well explained. This is made a lot easier if your school guide you through the process too.

        Once you've sent off your application it's a waiting game to see if you've got in anywhere. You will soon find yourself hooked to UCAS track, logging in multiple times every day just to see if you've had an offer.

        There is not much point in advising anyone against this website becuse you simply must use it to apply to university. Fortunately though I only have praise for the system and hope that those using it get the results they are after with the applications!

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        06.11.2008 20:05
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        A great site that proves very useful for those applying for university

        I am in year 13 and I am currently filling out my ucas application for my chosen universities. The great thing about this site is that it basically contains all the relevant information that you need for when you come to apply for university. Because this is obviously something people have never done before it needs to help settle student's worries about what to do.
        The actual application section is very straight forward, it is seperated into different parts where you can fill in your personal details, course choices, education and write your personal statement. Each section explains clearly what you need to do and is very useful for people who are worried or unsure. There are also links from the homepage that lead you to pages designed to help you write your personal statement and give you hints on what you need to put it it. Trust me, writing your statement is harder then it first seems!
        Another great aspect about the ucas website is that you can apply for a ucas card. This is kind of like a student card and it gives you discount in shops and can be used at the cinema. It's also free so I'd definately recommend it, also, by registering for a card, it shortens your application process as some of your details will already be on the data base.
        A hint I will give to students who are thinking of applying for university is: get started on ucas as soon as possible! It has a course search engine so helps with choosing your university but it also requires filling in a LOT of tedious details like ALL your GCSE results and the examining body, these can be filled in during year 12 so get started before your final year!

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        20.03.2003 19:49
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        If you are in the sixth form thinking about higher education and someone turns to you and mentions the word 'UCAS', chances are (unless you are in the very small minority of people who know exactly what they are going to do after school and beyond in great detail) panic will rush through your mind and body quicker than the Nemesis rollercoaster. I lost count of the amount of times I changed my mind about which course I was going to do at university never mind where I was going to go. In the years of the sixth form I went from wanting to do music, through combined studies, through psychology, through sociology, through primary education and back to music again. Now I realise that by being a woman I have the advantage that everyone expects me to change my mind several times but this was just getting ridiculous! I kept putting off making a decision until my form teacher and head of year kept coming to me saying 'we need your UCAS form in 2 weeks' and I thought right.... The prospect of applying to universities is quite a daunting one but there are people to make this process easier for students. The nice people at UCAS make it as easy as 1, 2, 3. Well.... kinda..... it's probably more like as easy as (1 + 2) x (3squared - x) + (y x z). Hmmm.... UCAS do actually make applying for university and college so much easier than if you had to apply on your own. ***STEP ONE*** The first thing you have to do is to decide where you want to stduy for up to the next 4 or even 7 years of your life and what it is you want to study. This is actually the hardest part of the process unless you've got everything all nicely planned out in which case - you're a jammy sod! This is the 3squared - x bit in the equasion. Although the decision is up to you, there are other people around to help including your friends (though if they're also applying to university or college, chances are they're likely to be a lit
        tle stressed too), your parents (yes, they are actually there to help you!) and your teachers (see comment about parents). Also, the nice people at UCAS can help you here too! If you go on to the UCAS website, you can search through thousands of courses at loads of universities and colleges to find the right ones for you (wow... that sounded like a car insurance advert then!). There really are some bizarre courses out there people! You can do wine studies at the university of Brighton, Bulgarian at UCL, gambling studies at the university of Salford and meat technology and management at Leeds: Thomas Danby College. All of this I found out on the website. You can also check the entrance requirements for the courses you are interested in. If all else fails, you could always do what one of my friends did when he couldn't decide what to take, and open the UCAS directory, close your eyes, flick to a page, put your finger down and apply to that course. This method isn't reccomendable however as he applied to a Japanese and Philosophy course having failed the only language he ever learned at GCSE. :s Step One = 3squared - x x = 2 3squared - 2 Step One = 7 ***STEP TWO*** Once you have made the choices of both your courses and your universities, the next step is to fill in the UCAS form. This really isn't as difficult as it first seems as long as you just tackle each section at a time. The first page of the form is all about the choices you have made in step one. You can apply to up to 6 courses unless you're doing some odd subjects like medicine where you can only apply to 4. To fill in the first page of the UCAS form you need to have infront of you all of the course codes and university codes as well as the course title. On page one of the form you also have to fill in some simple details about yourself including your address, phone number, email address etc. P
        age 2 is the most complicated as it is all about your qualifications, both the ones you have achieved and the ones you are hoping to achieve. You really need to read the help booklet for this page. Page 3 is the one you will probably know most about and the one which you will probably get the most help with. The dreaded personal statement just saying more about you and what you like doing, why you applied to the course, and what you think you will get out of the whole university experience. Two words of advice for this "DON'T LIE". If you do lie on your personal statement, the university will find out when you go for an interview. Page 4 is the one which is out of your hands as it is the reference. This normally comes from a tutor and in the case of my school, all of my class teachers wrote about me to my form tutor then he put it all together. Before this reference is done, you might want to do some sucking up to ensure a nice reference! It works!! Step 2 = y + z y = 2 z = 1 Step 2 = 3 ***STEP THREE*** Now that the form has been filled in and sent off, it is out of your hands. All the work for this stage is now done by UCAS sending copies of your form to your universities, and your universities to see if they want you. Once a university makes a decision about you, they will then tell UCAS who will in turn contact you to tell you if you have got an offer or not. The university may want to see you for an interview or in some cases depending on the course an audition, and they will make their decision after they have met you. If you do have to go for an audition or interview, don't worry about it, just go in and be yourself. I had to go for an audition AND interview in Aberdeen and I made such a fool out of myself by falling up some stairs, falling out of the university minibus and making some stupid mistakes in my music listening test yet I still got offered a place! The best way to ch
        eck your progress is on the UCAS website with your application number and online password which you will receive from UCAS when they receive your form. Once all of your universities have got back to you and told you if you have been offered a place, you will then have to choose your firm choice university (first choice) and your insurance (second choice). Step 3 = 1+2 Step 3 = 3 There, thats now most of the UCAS process done. All you have to do now is to get the grades you need in your A level exams for your first choice uni, and you will probably not hear from UCAS again. If you don't get the grades then UCAS will help you to still get a place somewhere through Clearing. Anyway, the equasion has been solved now! UCAS = (1 + 2) x (3squared - x) + (y x z) = (3) x (7) + (3) = 24 :) Have fun and I'll see you at university!!!! :)

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          27.05.2002 20:34
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          *What is UCAS?* It is the University and College Admissions Service through which applicants to higher education must apply in order to get a place on a course. Basically it is the "go between" which links the thousands of applicants with university admissions tutors. Potential students need to get an application pack the year before they intend to start the course. The main deadline date is the 15th January but for Oxbridge and certain arts and other courses the dates vary, so check first. I have had the delight (!) of using the UCAS service twice now, once in 2000/2001 when I applied to 5 different universities and this year when I applied for just one course. If you are at school or college you can get your UCAS form from there, if not you can order one from the UCAS website or get one from any careers centre. In the pack you will get 2 application forms (one to practice on) and a lengthy booklet detailing how to fill in the form correctly. You also get a CD ROM containing course listings and useful information. I found this very helpful. The application form is 4 A4 sides in total and can seem daunting but the booklet explains everything. Twice I have had small queries about the forms (I did not know where my GCSE certificates where so did not know the examination boards) and emailed UCAS. Both times I recieved a reply within a week answering my questions. You can also apply now using an electronic application and approximately 25% of applications were made this way in the last cycle. The personal statement causes a lot of hassle. I spent ages doing each of my statements, trying to make them really good. You can either type or neatly hand write this. Although the space on the form looks quite small, you can fit 3 or 4 good paragraphs in there so use them wisely. If you do a search on "UCAS Personal Statement" you can find lots of hints, here are a few of my tips:
          * Make sure there are no mistakes!!! This is your only chance to sell yourself. * Don't worry about coming across as big headed, you need to emphasise your strong points. * Get a few people such as objective adults to read it through and tell you what they think. Ask for constructive criticism. * Obvious one this, but say why you want to do that course. Don't put silly reasons, like "I love Casualty so I want to be a doctor" (you would be surprised...) * People are divided on this, but I would say keep your interests brief or leave them out, unless they are related to your course. For example, if you are applying for a drama course it is relevant to mention your theatre trips, or your web site when applying for a Computer Science degree. But really, I don't think admissions tutors are all that interested in your hobbies of "socialising and playing tennis..." * Mention specific books or favourite authors/genres when applying for English degrees, but try to make sure they are books you have actually read! If you only applying for one course, the fe is £5, for more than one it is £15, which can be paid by cheque or credit card. I think this is reasonable for the service provided and can not really complain (makes a change!) You must get a reference for your UCAS form, preferably from a teacher who knows you well. This is easy enough if you are at school but proves more difficult if you left a few years ago. The reference does not have to be very long though and once your form is all completed you can check it and send it off. One tip from me is to always either photocopy or write out another copy of your completed form. This means that if you get called to interview you can check up on all the exaggerations in your personal statement and make sure you come across as convincing. Try not to lie, although it is tempting. I was called for an interview at Warw
          ick University and had to swiftly read 3 books which I had mentioned in my personal statement! A nice touch in the process is a postcard you fill in with your address and stamp, so that when UCAS recieve your form they can send it back to you. This means you don't have to stress out about your application getting lost in the post. About a week after recieving your postcard, you should recieve an official letter from UCAS detailing your choices. You need to check these are correct and if there are any mistakes, let UCAS know. I have never had any mistakes or heard of anyone else who has done. Keep this letter safe and then it's a case of sitting back and waiting. If you applied before the deadline date, you should start hearing universities decisions within a month or two. Some universities may send you their own letters but UCAS advise not to take these as offers. The only official offers are the ones you recieve from UCAS. Once you have recieved a decision from all of your universities, UCAS send you a letter listing all the decisions and you could have one of these options: -You recieved no offers so go through to clearing -You recieve an unconditional offer which you accept and so your place is confirmed -You have several conditional offers, one of which you accept as a firm choice and one as an insurance choice should you not get the grades needed for your first choice. -Online Checking- When your choices letter is sent back, there will be your UCAS number and an online password on it. You can use this to check your application online. This is a very simple process, and you can see your offers (or unsuccesful applications) on the UCAS site and check your personal details. The offers will comeup on the site before you receive the letter, so it can become very tempting to check the site a few times a day in the hope of seeing those lovely words "Unconditional Offer&
          quot; next to your chosen uni. -The UCAS website- www.ucas.com -Here you can check your application as detailed above. -You can also do a course search by subject or area. This is easy to use and lists all higher education courses in the UK. I am very grateful to this search as without it I would not have found out about the course which I will be starting in September! -There is a good advice section, taking you through "before you apply", "how to apply" and "after you apply". If you have any questions about your application, deadline dates, or clearing, check here and there is a very good chance the answer will be there. -The site has a lot of other features, such as a book shop, sections for H.E staff, and news. The main features for students and prospective students and the ones I have mentioned. The site is clean and easy to use. -My experience- I am very pleased with my experience of UCAS. Considering that every year they deal with hundreds of thousands of applications, they do an excellent job. The numbers of people applying to university goes up every year: "The number of students applying for university and college places by the 15 January closing date is up by more than 12,000 on last year's closing date. UCAS received 335,312 applications by 15 January 2002, compared with 322,621 by 15 December 2000 - up 3.9%". There will always be a few cases of mistakes but I have always found UCAS to be accurate, to have helpful staff and an informative website. It is no wonder that UCAS have been awarded a prestigious Charter Mark by the government, an award which rewards high standards and customer service.

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            20.05.2002 03:19
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            I applied for universities through UCAS for the first time this year, the whole process was totally new to me since I could never be bothered going to meetings with the college career advisor. He always has had great ability to read my mind and tell me what I had just been looking around to find out myself. When it came to applying I was one of the lucky people who were able to apply to Oxford without them turning around and laughing in my face. This meant that I was going to have to start work early on the form so that I could get it to UCAS by the 16th of October, as you all should know if you have had to work to a dead line before, all the work if forgotten about until the week before completion. By 2 weeks before the dead line I had the form completed and on the way to UCAS, from now onwards I forgot about it and went back to normal college life. A week before the dead line I received the post card saying that the data had been received, by looking at the postage stamp on the card I saw that they had sent the card back to me with plenty of time to spare, I thought this would mean that they would have been able to process my application way before the date needed. This is when the problems started, the confirmation letter arrived a week or so later, this had on it a date that was a week after they had received the form, this date was also past the deadline, I reckon that I was lucky that Oxford considered my application at all, think of what would have happened if they decided not to. My application would be useless, I would have lost a chance of a lifetime, next time I might not have even been considered by them for interviews. A year of my life would have been lost while I waited for my next chance to apply. How can processing a form take so long, its not like I sent it in during a busy period like January when all the other applications were coming in.

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              13.02.2002 18:06
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              I've had no problems with UCAS on the two occasions I've used them for University applications. Also, I can't really see how the system would run well (and fairly) without a central system regulating University applications. Basically, what UCAS does, is gets you to fill in a 4 sided form, (1) with your details, (2) with your academic details, (3) with your "personal statement" in which you write as much as you can about yourself that's relevant to the course you want to apply for, and a space on the back (4) for someone (normally a tutor) to write a reference. It's like a job application which is then passed to UCAS, a central regulator. Once you've filled it in, you must check it about a million times before you send it off to UCAS, because they can send it back to you, or send out for further information if you miss anything out. My application got way-layed because I forgot to tick the box saying that I haven't had any convictions, and that set my application back about 2 weeks. Totally my fault though. UCAS then photocopy your form (and reduce it by half onto folded A4) and send it to your 6 choices. you have to make sure that your writing is legible when it's that small, which means you have to be careful when yuo fill in the form in the first place. Don't write too tiny. Then, it's up to the institutions to look at your stuff and decide whether they want you or not. This has nothing to do with UCAS until they make a decision. Once they have, they normally tell you, and UCAS will send on your offer letter fairly quickly. I have to say that since they set up the website to tell you how your application is going, I've found about some offers about a week before UCAS let me know by post, so I'd say keep checking it online. After all your choices have got back to you, or you withdraw from subsequent applications if the one you want has already given you an offer
              you like, you tell UCAS via a form, or by filling in which is your first choice, and your second choice University on their final offer letter. After that, you get confirmation, and wait. This is where it gets tricky. When the A level results come out, UCAS is told by the exam boards, and lets your first choice University know how you've done. If you've got the grades, you're going there. If you haven't, UCAS will assume that you're off to your second choice (presuming you've met the entrance requirements for there), and tell you. At this point, your first choice University could come back to you and say that they still want you. In that case, it's fine, you withdraw from UCAS and go there. BUT, if you've accepted the place at your second place University through UCAS before you get the letter/phone call from your first choice, you have to totally withdraw from the system, trust your first choice to hold your place, and apply through clearing. This is where problems between you, UCAS, and the Universities happen. UCAS is great for applications, but in cases like this, gets in the way and is redundant. I've only ever either got the grades, or an unconditional offer, so UCAS has never posed a problem for me. I've heard of some really odd situations people have got themselves into, but if there wasn't a system like UCAS, it'd be 100 times more difficult. Of course, now you can apply electronically, and I must stress that this is still dodgy. I've heard horror stories of an entire years worth of UCAS forms being lost in the system, and having to be re-done. This has nothing to do with UCAS, but is worth remembering to keep a paper copy. One thing about the electronic applications is that whilst they are neater, sometimes there isn't enough room to fill in some things. For example, I did "History and Appreciation of Music" as my 11th GCSE, and there wasn't e
              nough space on a "line" of text to write it all, so we all had to abbreviate it which looked a bit messy. All in all, UCAS is great, and handles everything really well. It's not bad for 15 quid if you think about it.

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                07.09.2001 04:08
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                When I first was about to write this opinion it was quite a while back when I was in a good mood with UCAS and thought they had done a good job. Of course before I was about to start I went on the UCAS website and looked at my application details and soon found myself quite unhappy with the organisation. However I'll get back to that later in the opinion, first I want to discuss just what these guys do for us student types. UCAS is the organisation that help Students get in contact with the Universities they want to apply to. Basically UCAS will do all of the contacting the Universities, giving them your details, updating them on your decisions and grades and of course they will also give you feedback from the Universities. So basically you give UCAS all your current details and of course a personal Statement and they give copies out to the Universities you want to apply to. Then UCAS do everything for you until you have made your final choice. The idea of this is to make your life a whole lot simpler in a time when you will be incredibly stressed out. This service like many others comes at a small price of course although this will seem worth while in the end I can assure you. Now the reason I am so upset with UCAS is because as the title suggests they almost completely screwed me over. You see UCAS are supposed to give the Universities your results from the exams days before you even get them. Unfortunately UCAS only happened to give the Universities I applied to my A-level results and neglected to give them my AS-level result as well. So the University of course thought I had less points than I did and were going to offer me a whole other course until I phoned them up and told them I had another grade. They told me they had no idea I had taken an AS because UCAS had not informed them of the result. To make a long story slightly shorter the University called me back on a later date to tell me that they would now let me do the course I want
                ed to since they found out I had that AS grade. So I was all happy and about to write a lovely opinion about UCAS until I soon discovered that they were screwing me around. Yes I took a look at my details on the site and they had the changed offer my University was going to make me on there. So I sent them an E-mail telling them it was wrong and that they needed to update it and send me a new offer letter. Well they sent me a reply saying that they had sent me a new offer letter and it would soon be with me. So I waited and waited but no offer letter came through the door, the website had not changed my details and over a week had passed so again I sent them an E-mail asking where my offer letter was and they told me that there would be no change and that they would tell the University I accepted the offer of the changed course and that I had to inform the University to change the course code to the one they had offered me. This had me going crazy because they had given me a great burden and more or less were telling me to do their jobs for them. So I was stressed out and resorted to what had and still unfortunately does get me through rough times and that is alcohol. Fortunately a couple of days later I had received the previously promised offer letter with the proper course on it, which I gladly accepted and signed. Then days later UCAS finally updated there website and that was me pleased yet again as it all ended happily in a certain perspective. So is UCAS any good? Well of course they are because they save you a lot of time and hassle. I know for certain that I for one would have had a few more nervous breakdowns if I had to phone around Universities more than I had to in the end. The only problem is UCAS really need to get their act together as some of their employees obviously don't realise that around this time in our lives we are incredibly stressed out and feel like it's all too much. Still I say don't replace them, keep t
                hem going as they will make a lot of students lives a whole lot easier.

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                  31.07.2001 03:39
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                  UCAS. The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. Their job is to control all students who go for a university place. I've been through the system three times believe it or not and have mixed views on each. First Time No problems at all. They courteously provided me with all the information I needed quickly, decisions were made quickly and when my place at Leeds was confirmed they did everything quickly. No problems, all textbook and when I turned down the place for reasons I won't go into it all went smoothly Second Time I applied through UCAS clearing. This was a bit more muddled, as my CEF didn't come until the 24th August which was annoying as you need the CEF to confirm your place. But they did their job and my place was confirmed, no complaints apart from the form Third Time! I applied for a transfer. This was a lot more muddled 1 - They sent all my mail to the wrong address, even though I stated clearly on the form where to send it. Admittedly it was only to the hall opposite, but I know of mail that didn't get to it's destination when it ended up in halls. When I rang up and tackled them about it, they said `We check postcodes using the speed check system and the two residences have the same postcode so we got the wrong one`. Is it too much trouble to actually read the form? 2 - When I rang asking if my place had been confirmed when I passed the first year, they seemed to find it odd that my offer wasn't based on A-Levels and it took them a good few minutes to realise my offer wasn't dependent on this. The conversation showed that the girl at the other end didn't have a very good grasp of the system in my view, an offer slightly different shouldn't throw the staff. 3 - I have had to wait a fair bit to get in touch with an operator when I have rang, too long 4 - I got a letter asking me something about A-Levels, then when I rang
                  they said they'd confused me with someone else? I wasn't impressed the third time. But they seem to do their job if you are a standard candidate. I think they do a good job considering the number of applications

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                  03.07.2001 02:50
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                  Art and Design Route B via UCAS can be either a very easy way to get into university, or it can be hell.It doesn't always deal with talent, as sometimes you have to be lucky to get your first choice. Route B has three choices, compared to Route A's six choices.You have to arrange your choices wisely in order to have a good chance of getting into your first choice , or sometimes getting into any university at all. I've picked up some information from my experience that may help: First choice. - This needs to be realistic to you, if the university you apply for is way out of your league and you know it, it will not help you. -You first choice is usually the top of your list, and you will automatically get an interview for this choice( Don't worry about interviews, they really are much easier to deal with than you think.But i'm sure you will hear that a lot.) -You will get an interview for this university between late march and early may.The results of your interview, unconditional, conditional or rejection will arrive within a days up to a month. ( i had to wait three weeks, and they were three very long weeks!) -It's good to see how many places your 1st choice has, as this could affect you getting in. The more places equals a bigger chance you will get in. It's good to see if you can work out how many people applied last year, to the number of places. - if you are rejected or do not accept the place, you will be put through to the second phase. Second choice - Your second choice needs to be a less popular/competitive university or course than your first choice.This choice doesn't have to offer an interview but in my experience sometimes does. - You also need to find out if this university usually takes second choice applicants. You can do this by either phoning the university, or researching a little. I managed to find out the stats from the year before via my college. They told me
                  how many people had apllied 1st,2nd and third choice. Also how many people were accepted 1st,2nd and 3rd choice. This let me see which universities were more likely to accept me as a 2nd choice applicant if my first choice fell through. -IT'S IMPORTANT YOU FIND OUT IF YOUR SECOND CHOICE ACCEPTS 2ND CHOICE APPLICANTS, BECAUSE ITS UNUSUAL THAT YOU WILL GET TO YOUR THIRD CHOICE, AS MOST COURSES FILL UP WITH 1ST AND 2ND CHOICE. - These interviews start any time from early May. Third choice. - By now your quite unlucky. Most people at my college left the third choice of their green UCAS slip blank, so that at a later date they could apply for any left over places before the mad rush of clearing.But if your college don't allow this, then it's advisable to put a choice in that you wouldn't mind going to but isn't going to get very many offers. - If you are unlucky and there are not any spaces left onto your third place, start phoning around to see who to apply for through clearing. When applying via Route B you can't afford to be pretentious, as you may not end up getting into any of your choices if they are all high. It's worth phoning around to universities to find out info, and asking your art schools and colleges to provide you last years application statistics, as they are a big help. Alot of people secure their first choices but i have encountered a few who don't, and if you havn't planned you have to rely on being lucky. Hopefully this may help some of you applying to Art courses through UCAS. Good Luck X

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                  07.05.2001 23:09
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                  Before I applied through the UCAS system earlier this year, I'd heard all sorts of horror stories about how it was so complicated and nonsensical. Matters were made worse due to the fact that I wanted to apply to an Art and Design course and, as many art students will know, there are two 'routes' to apply through; A and B (I applied through route B...I'll tell you about that little palava later...). So, naturally, I flew into a blind panic. But worry not, the form was actually quite a doddle after I'd practised a few times using photocopied forms. Yes, I lost count of the number of times I messed up by writing in the wrong box or forgetting that I had to use block capitals but that's pretty minor stuff and you soon get used to it. The only problem with the actual form is the teeny tiny area of space they give you to write your...cue thunder and lightning...personal statement. Even now, that phrase fills me with dread and I break out in a cold sweat! "Sell yourself!", they said. "Really promote your skills...but remember not to waffle." Yes, Teach, easy for you to say. Those who have experience of the Personal statement 'issue' will know that trying to 'sell yourself' without babbling is a complete impossibility. So relax and resign yourself to the fact that you'll have to make at least 5 drafts before you even think about writing anything on the 'real' form! It's more difficult than it sounds, actually. I was there for at least two hours trying to think of ways to make myself sound capable and interesting. Most students don't have many hobbies aside from drinking copious amounts of alcohol and then vomiting it back up behind the bus stop down the high street. And that, says my tutor, doesn't count. By the way, before you even think of lying about how very interesting you are on your personal statement remember that you'll have to back up these sordid fibs at yo
                  ur interviews as the interrogators WILL have an exact copy right in front of them and they're more than likely to ask you all about your thrilling lifestyle. Either don't lie or make sure you're extremely good at spewing nonsense. Being an Art student and wanting to apply for an Art and Design course there was also an immense amount of information I needed to include that was not really required of those applying for academic courses; my creative motivation, favourite artists, art-related hobbies and any extra-curricular art work undertaken. As I had quite a lot to say, I was extremely disappointed to find out that you have much less than a side of A4 at your disposal. Bear in mind, too, that it has to be written CLEARLY and NEATLY because those awkward buggers at UCAS have to shrink the form down to something like one third of it's original size. So, if you have terrible handwriting that looks as if a spider dipped in ink has crawled accross the page, get someone with neat writing to do it for you or print it out from a computer/word processor. That's just about as difficult as filling in the actual form gets. But here's my bugbear...it'll cost you £15 for the privelage. £15? And for what? It's ridiculous. I hope to be employed by UCAS one day just to see where that hard cash goes. You also have to fill in and supply your own first class stamp for the little postcard that'll be sent back to you when UCAS have safely recieved your form...cheeky little...anyway. A week or so after you recieve the little postcard thingy back, you'll get another letter (an AS1 I think) confirming your choices of university/institute/college. Then, hopefully, you'll get interview dates from your chosen uni's. Simple I hear you cry. Apply for an Art and Design course and you'll see that it's far from it. Remember the route A and B business I mentioned? It's all down to that. As I didn't really
                  know which course I wanted to take (design or fine art), I decided to apply through route B only because I needed time to think (route B deadline is march I think, so a lot later than the route A deadline) and get together a good portfolio. I'd advise all art students right now to apply through both routes, it's a lot less hassle and much safer than applying just through B. Anyway, I applied for two universities in order of preference ( this is required for route B). The protocol is as follows. If you get into the first choice you can either accept or reject the offer. If you accept, the other choices are terminated. If you decline or don't get offered a place, your form is immediately sent to your next choice and so on and so forth. There's no going back with route B, unlike Route A which follows the usual UCAS pattern (ie, you get all your interviews at once and then choose which one to accept). Finally, if you think there's been a delay at any stage of your application PLEASE get in touch with UCAS and tell them all about it. After an interview at my first choice I was left hanging around for three weeks without written comfirmation as to whether I had secured a place or not. So, worried I'd been forgotten about, I emailed both UCAS and the university and asked if there was a problem. A few days later, the Uni replied and told me that there must have been some sort of delay with my application and they'd sort it out. The confirmation letter arrived the next day. Marvellous.

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                  28.02.2001 01:23
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                  Ucas forms do make university application a lot easier. You only have to fill one form in, only a small fee has to be paid for all the administration to be done and yet I still have a problem with it. One thing slightly wrong on your form and you spend weeks correcting it or explaining what you meant on it. For instance, on the first page it asks if you have any medical conditions and to fill in a code, which I did, 7 -unseen medical condition. Further on, on page 3 it says if you have any special needs please state here. I thought 'well I don't' so I left this box blank, thinking it would be assumed that I didn't have any. I even checked this with my tutor and with the UCAS instructiuons and I still believed that I ddn't need to put anythin in there. Boy was I wrong!! Within a couple of weeks I started receiving letters asking me what medical condition I had and whether I had any special needs. Every single university sent me a letter about it, whch I then had to reply to if i wanted to receive an offer this side of September! I believe that this small omission is what has cost me valuable time in getting all my offers in. The system works but not all the time!

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                  21.02.2001 23:11
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                  .:. *Preface* .:. Right, so bureaucracy isn't fun, filling in forms is hardly an entertaining pastime and it takes a lot of organisation and discipline to make a system work. Of course we all know it is necessary to organise things, and forms (if they are set up correctly) can assist you with providing exactly the right information that is needed for whatever you apply/sign up for. But we've all had *bad* experiences with bureaucracy - lost forms, disorganised companies/colleges/schools and so on. When I signed out of Uni in Switzerland, I had to wait half an hour at the enquiry desk - because they had *mislaid* my card in their student register. When I signed up for college here, I saw the receptionist type in my details correctly, yet half a year (and several phonecalls and complaints) later, they still kept sending my stuff to the wrong address - this only changed after we moved house last August! Then I got a *nice* letter from my college, telling me to pay my first fee instalment IMMEDIATELY or else... This was funny, because I had paid the whole £3'507 (overseas student fees) in one lump sum two months previously, just like I had told them when I enrolled! And last but not least there's the form that allows you to take 25% off your council tax if you are a full-time student. Now I spent all my savings (from 8 months work) on tuition fees, so I really couldn't afford to pay the full 50% (I live with my boyfriend) - but of course the college didn't manage to handle the council form correctly - all they had to do was put a stamp on and hand it back to me, but they ended up changing my hours (because the course register had some grave errors in it) and sending it back to the council directly - which they weren't supposed to do, it even says it on the form! It took several hour-long sessions at the local council (where most of the staff were temporary relief workers, thus only 2 out of the 10 people dealing wit
                  h council tax enquiries actually knew what they were doing) and a meeting with the college's financial advisor to sort it out. .:. UCAS - What is it all about? .:. Now to the UCAS form - is it just another bureaucratic loophole or a slick solution to cut down on administrative work? Okay, UCAS stands for *Universities and Colleges Admission Services* and is a system that allows students to apply for up to 6 (4 if you apply for medicine, dentistry or veterinary science) different courses at different Colleges and Universities throughout the country - via a relatively simple, 4-page form. You pay a one-off fee of £15 if you apply for several courses and/or different Universities or £5 if you only apply for one course at one University, and administration is handled centrally, saving students a lot of time and money because they only have to apply once, no matter how many institutions and courses they apply for. The form is checked by your course tutor (or another reliable referee) who then writes his/her own recommendation and sends it off to UCAS, where it has to arrive by the middle of December. .:. The UCAS form .:. - Page 1 - On this page, you have to give information about your name, address, age, origin, previous secondary education and your chosen courses and Universities as stated in the UCAS directory, a relatively thick brochure that contains codes and information for all available courses and educational institutions. - Page 2 - This is where you have to state all your previous qualifications as well as the ones you are in the process of completing, namely A-Levels or GNVQs etc. - Page 3 - Here, you can mention any special needs you may have. Also, the page allows you to list all previous (paid) work experience you have had and you have to state any previous criminal convictions you may have had. Page 3 is also where you write your personal statement, an accoun
                  t of your previous experience and an explanation on why you think you are suitable for your chosen course(s). As you should also mention your interests and your future plans, this is a great opportunity for the Universities to check your suitability. The way you express and present yourself and whether or not you have a genuine interest/background in the course(s) you selected is just as important as your grades, and can make or break your application - therefore you have to spend a good amount of time and thought on this part of the application. - Page 4 - This is a page to be filled in by your referee, who has to be a tutor, headmaster, employer or senior colleague - friends or family won't do. A referee has to check whether the applicant has filled in the form correctly and whether his/her information is correct. In addition, he/she has to write a statement about the candidate's suitability for the selected course(s), predicted grades (if the candidate still has to finish A-Levels etc.), ability to work independently, communication skills, interests, career plans and other factors that might influence their future. .:. What are the benefits/downsides of this system? .:. First off, the system saves both the applying students and the universities a lot of time and money. In Switzerland (where I come from) for example, such a system is not in place as of yet (you have to send in an ADDITIONAL form if you want to study medicine etc.) - mainly because we have very few Unis and a much smaller choice of courses. None the less I would have appreciated this system, as you currently have to apply to EACH University individually (competition is high so you have to apply for more than one course/Uni as a backup), which means filling in several forms (if you apply at different Unis) and paying approximately £40 EACH - so the measly £15 for the UCAS application really shouldn't be worth complaining about. The form
                  itself seems very well though-out and gives applicants the chance to *sell* themselves and make a good first impression through the personal statement. This is essential, as not all courses can offer interviews, and it also has the benefit of basing the Uni's first impression of an applicant on their personality, interdisciplinary skills and interests rather than purely on their grades. Although I am sure many students *lie* in their personal statements and make up work experience, skills and interests to make themselves look more suitable for a course, I do believe that any referee who gives a thing about his/her position will notice the scam and *correct* it in their reference. Lying in your personal statement will therefore shine a very negative light on your application, as the Universities are much more likely to believe your referee's assessment of your personality and skills than your own, should they contradict each other. Many people have complained about how *complicated* the UCAS form is, but I seriously don't understand what they mean. For a start, if you ever want to WORK in your life and if you are serious about going to University, then the ability to work independently (without anyone telling you what exactly to put in each box) and to understand and fill in forms is ESSENTIAL - so why not start before it's too late? Apart from that, UCAS provide a large amount of useful guidance material, in leaflet/brochure form as well as on their website, http://www.ucas.co.uk where you can look up the rules and guidelines for each section of the form. Once they have received your application you receive a confirmation and UCAS forward copies of your application to your chosen Universities, and after up to four weeks they will send you your personal application number which allows you to track the state of your application via their website. There is also an option to fill in an electronic form, should you have problems
                  filling it in manually. .:. Summary .:. I would say the UCAS system is a very effective, affordable and efficient way of dealing with the overwhelming amount of administrative work connected with the application process. The process saves everybody time and money and makes sure that candidates provide all the information necessary for a successful application. The personal statement gives applicants a chance to emphasise their qualities, so applications are not treated solely on their grades, and the reference guarantees that a candidate hasn't just made up everything he/she has written in the form and personal statement - usually, referees demand to see your exam results and qualifications before they agree to write a recommendation. All in all, the system saves a lot of people a lot of hassle and filling in the form is a good exercise in independent working - an essential quality for anyone planning to go on to higher education!

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