How to apply

How you apply depends on the type of course you want to study.

  • For a full-time undergraduate course you apply through UCAS.
  • For part-time study you apply directly to the course provider.
  • For postgraduate you can apply for some courses through UCAS and some directly.

The links above take you to general information about how to apply – including the different application deadlines there are – but please read on for advice that's specific to mature applications.

Ged Bretherton

'I wanted to prove something to myself' – Ged's experience working for his union prompted him to get back into education. Hear his story in this video, or read his case study in the Related case studies below.

The UCAS application

The Apply page is split into four categories, so it should be easy to find the right application.

It's here you'll continue to log in to complete your application step by step, and to track your progress with your chosen course provider (or multiple providers, as you can apply to several courses to increase your chances of acceptance).

  • In the application you'll provide personal details, employment history and your qualifications.
  • If you're adding an Access course to your application, there are a few different types, so check the guide in the related documents tab if you need help.
  • If you can't find your school exam certificates, contact the school or local authority: but if you have no luck, contact the course providers you're applying to and discuss your options.
  • You'll also need to provide a personal statement, references and a small application fee.

Your personal statement

The personal statement is where you show how you'd be a great student – demonstrating your enthusiasm to study and your interest in the subject. It's also where you can explain any alternative entry requirements you've used – like an Access course or APL – demonstrating the skills and knowledge you've gained through your previous experiences.

Your UCAS personal statement

I thought I'd missed my chances, but was given a second chance through the trade union learning opportunities. Since then, I’ve embraced learning. I wanted to prove something to myself. I wanted a degree for my self-worth, self-confidence, and to prove I could succeed."

Ged Bretherton, Open University. Read the full case study here.

How to add an Access course to your application

There are four different kinds of Access course to choose on the application and it's important to enter the correct one:

  • Access to HE Certificate
  • Access (other)
  • Access to HE Diploma (ungraded – last award 2011)
  • Access to HE Diploma (2009 onwards)

If you're unsure it's best to speak to your Access course provider to check.


Filling in the details

Title Select from the drop-down list, or if it's not there, use the 'Other' box to type it.
Qualification date Enter either the date your qualification was awarded, or the date you expect to receive your results.
Access Validating Agency Enter the name of the board that awards your qualification.
Result Enter either 'Pending' or 'Completed'.
Modules How many you need to enter depends on the type of Access course.

If your qualification is the Access to HE Diploma (2009 onwards), it's compulsory to add at least one of the modules, and if possible please add all of them. There's space for 20 modules, so if you have more, please contact your chosen universities and colleges for guidance on how to send additional details to them directly

If you're adding one of the other Access courses, your chosen universities and colleges may still need details of your modules – either all of them or particular ones – so it's always best to check.

Please also enter the amount of credits allocated to each module under the heading 'Credit value'.


What happens next

  1. We'll match up your results across exam entry records and the qualifications you listed on your application – so it's important you fill in the right details so that there's no delay in the outcome of your application.
  2. Then we'll send your overall result to the higher education course providers you're holding offers with – however you'll need to send your full transcripts to them once you've received them.