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Did you decide today that you want to go to uni only to find the deadline has passed? That’s OK, you can still go! And the choice is either to wait until next year (putting the deadlines in your diary now) or see what is available to late applicants. Deadline doesn’t mean dead-end.

Karen Pichlmann, Head of Admissions at Bournemouth University, explains why there are deadlines, what making a late application means and the options you’ll have open to you:


UCAS application deadlines are there for a reason, from your perspective it means your university application is out of the way before you get down to the all-important revision.  Deadlines also mean universities can manage the selection process – time for interviewing, portfolio presentations, selection days etc.  Universities deal with vast numbers of applications, and in order to give each one the consideration it deserves, we need time.  Plus it works the other way too, universities have to let you know their decisions by certain deadlines.

Many Schools and Colleges really encourage their students meet the deadlines (some students may say ‘nagging’!) and the vast majority of applicants do.  For some prospective students, they just aren’t ready by the deadlines for a variety of reasons.  The decision to go to university may come later in the year, once they are further through their A Levels or BTEC for instance.  Students who aren’t in a school or college, may not be aware that deadlines exist – understandable when they seem so early compared to when university starts.  Indeed, some students at university currently may have a change of heart and need to change course.

Missed the deadline?

So now we know why the deadlines are there, the next logical question is “are there deadlines for late applications?” yes of course!  See UCAS’ important dates section.  You can apply now and until 30 June as a late applicant.  After this time, you will go into Clearing.  5 months sounds like a long time, but I’d urge you not to delay as some courses may close over the coming months.

Equal consideration

Before you proceed, I need to tell you about ‘equal academic consideration’.  Essentially it does what it says on the tin, and guarantees each applicant equal consideration as long as they apply by the deadline.  Applying after the deadline, means a university doesn’t have to employ this rule and can reject you even if you meet the entry criteria.  Most universities will let UCAS know that their courses are full and cannot accept any more applications.  Some may only be looking for a few select applicants.  Others know that good applicants sometimes miss deadlines, and give equal consideration.  I’d put Bournemouth in all three categories – some of our courses are full, some will have a small number of offers to make and some will consider late applicants more widely.

What will be available?

The short answer is not everything.

Example, you’re suddenly consumed with a burning desire to study, say, English.  You love literature, the classics, to write and to read widely.  You start to research what’s available and discover that the number of available English literature courses is limited.  Looking more closely, you can see English language, English and Politics, English and Communications courses available for example.  Reading the detail of these courses will tell you if they will be suitable for your goals and interests.

Therefore, you may have to be more flexible and think of alternative pathways if you apply now.  Universities offer help and advice on your options, at Bournemouth we have a dedicated future students team to answer your questions and so do other universities.

Finding out what’s available

Research is the key to applying to university, whenever you do it.

University websites should tell you if they are accepting late applications, Bournemouth has it clearly on each course listing.  UCAS course search too.

How to apply

There’s no different process for applying now.  You register to use UCAS’ Apply application portal and away you go.  I can’t emphasise enough the need to complete the application in full, including your references.   Whilst we are happy to consider late applications, we want to consider good ones.  UCAS provide lots of advice on completing your application.

I hope this has given you the confidence to get started on your application, knowing that it’s not too late to start university this year.  Remember to get in touch with the universities you’re interested in.  Good luck.

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