For 1994 admission onwards, all applications for degree courses will be through UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. The only exceptions are the Canfield University, the Open University and the University of Buckingham. There were previously two organizations, UCCA and PCAS, dealing with universities and polytechnics respectively, but the government has accorded university status to all polytechnics and the admissions systems have consequently merged, which makes things a great deal easier. Full details about how to apply for a first degree course, including the complex arrangements for Oxford and Cambridge, are set out in the very clear and precise UCAS Handbook are obtainable free from UCAS.
Briefly, you make up to eight choices of university and college and list them on your application form in the order given in the Handbook. You can no longer indicate a preference. You also give details of your academic qualifications, including any examinations you have not yet taken. Make sure your qualifications satisfy the institution's general 'matriculation' requirements as well as those required by the course.
There are two other important parts of the form: a space for you to describe your interests and activities, and a space for your school or college to write a confidential report on you. With so many well qualified candidates, these two personal descriptions are often the deciding factor. Keep a copy of what you write, and be prepared to follow up your statements at interview.
Photocopy the 'Further Information' section and practice completing it first. Complete your form clearly and legibly. Use black ink as the form is to be reduced in size. Return the form to UCAS with the £12 fee (your school will usually send all their forms together). They then forward it to your chosen universities and colleges, who decide whether or not to interview you, make you an offer without an interview, or reject you. An offer maybe conditional, dependent on your obtaining certain grades at 'A' level or unconditional if you already have qualifications. In the former case, you are allowed to hold two offers at one time. You must decline any other offers you receive. Confirmation of offers takes place after the institutions have received your results. It is important that you are not away on holiday at this time.
Clearing operates in September for candidates who were unsuccessful with their original choices, or who were rejected at confirmation stage, or for late applicants. You will be contacted if this affects you.
Important Dates (1995 entry)
- 1 September opening date for applications
- 15 October closing date for Oxford and Cambridge
- 15 December closing date for all other entries
- 15 May deadline for you to select your firm and insurance offers
- Summer confirmation of offers after results are received
- September clearing operates.
Art and Design Courses
Foundation and Vocational Courses
Write to your local education authority at the Education Office, asking for details of their courses, and then apply direct to the colleges in which you are interested. You will probably be called for an interview and asked to bring a portfolio of your work.
Art and Design Admissions Registry (ADAR)
For all courses at degree level and for BTEC Higher National Diploma courses in design, except for colleges in Scotland, you must apply through the Art and Design Admissions Registry (ADAR).
If you are taking a foundation course at a college of art, you must obtain an initial application form for the ADAR scheme through your school or college. You then return this with a fee. If you are still at school or an 'external' candidate, you must write direct to ADAR for forms, enclosing a large stamped addressed envelope and the fee with your request. You will be sent a registration form, and different application forms for BA/BSc. and HND courses, to complete.
The other courses mentioned in this book do not have a clearinghouse system such as UCAS or ADAR. You have to apply to the college direct, according to the instructions given in the college prospectus. There may well not be a closing date as the college will continue to accept applications until the course is full. However, courses fill up fast so you should apply as early as you can in the academic year before you want to begin the course. It is important to read the instructions carefully and to fill in the form neatly and accurately. If you are asked for a personal statement about yourself, your interests and why you want to take that particular course, do this carefully and keep a copy.
You will be asked to name at least one person who can give a reference about your academic work. Most people will ask their school or college to give this reference but, if you prefer to ask someone else, explain why.
ECCTIS 2000 is a national courses information service run for the Department for Education. It is available on CD ROM and Prestel and provides full information on entry requirements and educational credit transfers, as well as course content, for around 80,000 courses in further and higher education. There are access points for students in public libraries and adult guidance centers. Your careers tutor should be able to tell you where your local access point is.
During clearing, several Sunday newspapers also contain information about course vacancies.
Colleges, and individual departments, vary in their interviewing policy. Some interview a shortlist of most likely candidates; some interview borderline cases. Some will offer an interview only after they have offered you a place, so be prepared for one.
It is a good idea to get someone to give you a mock interview, so that you can practice techniques and be warned against some of the more obvious pitfalls. Remember that an interview is an opportunity for you to find out more about the course and the college, as well as for the college to get to know you. Take any chance of looking round the buildings and halls of residence and try to meet students, formally or informally.
It is best to play safe and dress reasonably conventionally. Think beforehand about your answers to stock questions such as why do you want to come here?' What interests you about marketing?' Don't pretend to know the answer if you are not sure, but try to respond positively.
You are putting yourself forward as being suitable for a career based on explaining and projecting information. The first product you have to demonstrate is yourself so prepare for the interview carefully, and do not be intimidated. There are plenty of good books on the subject of interviews, and some are listed.
Most colleges will give special consideration to people who left school some years before and who have now decided that they would like to take a further course. Anyone who is 21 or over may apply as a mature student. Check with the individual institutions if you are concerned that you may not be able to satisfy then standard entrance requirements. They will be happy to evaluate your previous education and experience. Mature applicants are advised to consult local authority careers offices for general information, and you should send for the free leaflet from UCAS for further information.
The CAM Foundation, Chartered Institute of Marketing and BTEC courses are all prepared to relax entry requirements for people who have worked in advertising or marketing for some time, if their experience is considered relevant and suitable.
Some of the Open University (OU) courses maybe very suitable as a preparation for full time study, and OU qualifications and credits are often acceptable. Many local authorities run short access classes to help those returning to study.
Institutions of higher education are sympathetic to the requirements of applicants with disabilities and other needs and are anxious to provide appropriate support. Many have developed equal opportunities policies and practices.
Before making a formal application, contact the institution direct to discuss any support needs you may have. Explain the nature and extent of your disability and mention any particular arrangements you have found helpful in the past. It is a good idea to arrange an informal visit to assess the difficulties of access, and to discuss your needs with the staff. Your application will be considered regardless of any disability, and any medical information will be kept confidential.
Contact the Information Service of Skill: National Bureau for Students with Disabilities for personal advice and up to date information on all aspects of applying for a course. It publishes a series of leaflets giving helpful information about various aspects of studying with a disability. The Bureau can also give information about the colleges which have special facilities and purpose built accommodation.
Applicants from countries other than the UK must apply through UCAS and follow the instructions given on the application form. The UCAS Handbook lists the embassies and high commissions in London that wish students to submit their applications through them.