If you have ever served as a Regular or Reservist in the UK Armed Forces, or remain a Reservist, you may find there are unique challenges involved in applying to university or college.

However, there’s a broad range of support to assist you with making your application, and during your studies, regardless of whether you are still undergoing resettlement, or it has been several years since you made the transition to civilian life.

There are a number of schemes available through the Ministry of Defence (MOD) to help service leavers with ongoing training and education, such as the Enhanced Learning Credit (ELC) and Publicly Funded Further Education and Higher Education (PF FE/HE) schemes – find out more on the ELCAS website.

When applying to higher education, it can be difficult to understand how the training and qualifications gained in the UK Armed Forces compare to ‘traditional’ routes and qualifications, and whether they are recognised by different course providers. Many universities and colleges recognise or accredit prior learning (RPL/APL) to give accreditation for relevant knowledge, skills, and experience already gained, and some will match your rank and qualifications to existing civilian qualifications. This can vary between providers, so it’s important to contact them directly to discuss your options.

Remember to use the UCAS personal statement to highlight how your experience and prior training has helped you develop unique skills and strengths you can transfer to your studies.  

A number of higher education providers have signed the UK Armed Forces Covenant – and details can be found on their websites. 

Read more about the Covenant and what it means for you on the UK Armed Forces Covenant website. 

The UCAS application

For students applying to start their course in 2023, UCAS has introduced a new section in the application so you can share more information about your circumstances with the university or college – including whether you are a UK Armed Forces veteran or Service leaver. This information means the university or college will be able to connect you to the right support for your needs quickly and easily and ensure you have all the information you need.

If you have ever served in the UK Armed Forces, just select ‘yes’ from the drop-down box in the question that asks about this in the ‘More about me’ section of the application. You will not have to give any further details at this stage.

Read more about sharing information about being a veteran or Service leaver in the application on our FAQs page.

When you share this information, the university or college may get in touch with more information about how they can help you – and to tell you more about your options. This information is treated sensitively and only shared with those responsible for arranging support and helping you with your application. Knowing about your circumstances may also help admissions staff consider your achievements in context - it won’t reflect negatively on your application.

Some students wonder if they should mention their circumstances in their personal statement – this is a completely personal decision and you should only do so if you feel it is relevant to your application.

You're in control
If you decide you don’t want support, you can choose not to accept it. But if you change your mind later on, or your circumstances change, it’s ready for you.
Provider support varies
Not all universities and colleges offer the same type of support, so research your options before you apply to make sure they offer what you need.

UK Armed Forces Covenant

A number of providers have signed the UK Armed Forces Covenant – details can be found on their websites. 

Read more about the Covenant and what it means for you on the UK Armed Forces Covenant website. 

Where can I get more information?