References for UCAS Undergraduate applications

How you get a reference for your application depends on if you’re applying individually, or through a school, college, or a centre registered with UCAS.

How to choose a referee

  • If you’re in education or have recently been in education, your referee should be someone who knows you academically and can share supporting information relevant to the courses you’re applying for, along with any predicted grades for qualifications you’re studying now.
  • If you have not been in education for a while, some unis or colleges might consider a different type of reference, such as an employment reference. Requirements vary by provider (and even sometimes by course type), so you must contact your choices for advice on what type of reference you need to provide.  
  • Don’t ask family, friends, partners or ex-partners though – if you do your application may be cancelled.

Your referee won’t be able to see your application or courses, so make sure you discuss this information with them before sending the reference request.

You only need one reference on your application. If you want your uni or college to see more than one, contact them and ask if an additional reference can be sent directly.

How the reference should be written

Here’s an overview, so you know what to discuss with your referee.  

  • It must be written by your referee online in the reference section of your application, in English (or Welsh if you’re applying for courses in Wales).
  • If your referee is one of your teachers, they can add your predicted grades for any pending qualifications you’re studying now.
  • With your permission, the reference could include circumstances that have affected your academic work or achievements, such as a personal problem, illness, or any individual needs you have. 

Individual circumstances

Have you been asked to be a referee?

Please see our advice for how to provide a reference and what to include.