References, payment and sending

Here you will find information about how you get your reference, arrange your payment and send your application to us.

  • The process varies depending on whether you're applying through a school, college or centre registered with UCAS.
  • The section below tells you what you need to know including who is appropriate to provide your reference.

Applying for postgrad teacher training? Read our advice about UCAS Teacher Training references.

Referees: read our advice about providing a reference.

How to request a reference

Here's how to get a reference for your application.

Signed video on requesting a reference

Here's how to get a reference for your application.

If you're applying through a school, college or centre

1. Pay your application fee 

  • £12 for one course, or £23 for multiple courses and applications sent after 30 June.
  • Your school, college or centre will let you know either to pay them so they can pay us, or for you to pay direct online by credit/debit card.
  • If you pay by credit/debit card, this is done before your reference is added. If you pay your school/college/centre, they'll let you know when to pay.

2. Then your reference and application will be sent to us by your school, college or centre

  • Your school/college/centre will arrange this for you, including a reference that's a full written recommendation from a teacher or tutor who knows you.
  • You won't have access to this, so you won't need to do anything for it.
  • Remember to keep in touch with them about how it's going – that way you'll know when they’ve sent it on to us.

If you're applying as an individual

1. Get a reference from a teacher, adviser or professional who knows you

  • Either ask a tutor, trainer or employer if they'd be happy to do it – if yes, add their email and phone number to the reference page, then click 'Ask referee to complete reference'. First we'll email them with a link and password to the reference page of your application, then we'll ask them to confirm their identity before writing it. (If for any reason they decline we'll let you know.)
  • It's important to use the correct email address for your referee:
    • do not use an email address that will result in an automated response (e.g. a generic HR address)
    • your reference must be done online - make sure your referee knows this. All details they need will be in the reference request email they receive from us
    • we cannot accept paper or emailed references
  • Alternatively, in 'Options' you can 'ask a registered school, college or centre to write a reference' – contact them first to see if they'd be happy to, then add their details and buzzword.
  • Please give your referee plenty of time to complete your reference, and if they need any advice they'll find help text on the page where they add the reference, plus there's info here about writing references.

2. Pay your application fee and send your application to us

  • £12 for one course, or £23 for multiple courses and applications sent after 30 June, payable by credit/debit card online.
  • The reference will need to be complete before you can send your application to us, so keep in touch with your referee to make sure it's completed in time.

Your reference

Who should write it?

Usually someone who knows you academically – a teacher or tutor who can talk about how you work and interact with other students etc, as well as your suitability for higher education or a particular profession.

  • If you're in school or college (or you were recently), ask your tutor, teacher, principal or head teacher.
  • If you left school or college years ago you could ask an employer, volunteering supervisor or trainer.
  • But don't ask family, friends, partners or ex-partners – if you do your application could be cancelled.

How's it written?

It has to be a full written reference – not just contact details – written in English (or Welsh if you're only applying to Welsh universities and colleges).

  • Your referee might include details about your career goals and any supporting work experience you've had (so make sure you discuss these with them).
  • They might also explore how well you've done in specific modules or course components.
  • They could describe circumstances that have (or could) affect your academic work, from a personal problem or an illness to any individual needs you have. (You'll need to provide permission for health issues/disabilities to be mentioned though, so talk to your referee if you'd like universities and colleges to know about these.)
  • There's also an option to not include a reference – if you contact all your universities and colleges and they agree you don't need one – just confirm that it's not needed on the reference page of your application.