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What to do if you miss the January Ucas deadline and still want to apply to uni

Don't worry about the missed January deadline, you've still got time to apply to start university this year.

How late is too late? If you're applying to university, 6pm on 31 January marks the point after which you are considered late to the party in 2024.

So once that milestone has passed, does that mean you're locked out of starting uni until next year? Definitely not! You can still apply, and there's just one key difference – your application will no longer be guaranteed equal consideration.

That means, if you're applying after that date, you might find some courses have started to fill up – or perhaps closed completely. Sound scary? Don't stress: if you're looking outside the most ultra-competitive uni/course combinations, you should still find plenty of options.

Universities are expected to give equal consideration to every application that lands in their inbox before the 31 January deadline. No matter whether you send in your application at the start of September or on 31 January, your application will be given just as much priority. But, once the deadline passes, universities are free to start allocating places – starting with those who applied by 31 January. 

The 31 January deadline is relevant to the majority of uni applicants, but if you're applying to Oxbridge or a medicine, dentistry or veterinary course then the deadline is 16 October 2023 for 2024 entry

Making a late uni application

Those remaining places won't hang around forever. But, even though the temptation might be to rush something together as quickly as you can, time spent putting together a really good application will certainly be time well spent. You’ll still need to make sure your application is thorough and as good as it can possibly be.

The new deadline you're now looking at is 30 June 2024. Everyone – whether a home or international candidate – gets until then to submit an application for immediate consideration. The big difference is that it's now first come, first served. So you want to be swift, but don't rush it.

Timing your application

The only time where late applicants are best advised to hold back their application is in the days immediately after the January deadline. At this point, it can actually be beneficial to wait a while. 

As universities will be processing the applications received before the deadline, they may not know for a few weeks afterwards whether they can consider any more. So, if you hold out until mid-to-late February, universities will be notifying Ucas whether they will be in Ucas Extra and if so for which courses. That gives you a better idea of what's still out there.

Once you're past late February, however, you should get your application in as soon as possible to give yourself the best chance of success.

Checking what's on offer

The course search facility on the Ucas website is a good first port of call to check on places that are still available. 

You can back up your research with our very own course finder, which gives details for all UK university courses, alongside the latest data and stats, helping you to nail down your shortlist. 

You can also find the relevant university forum on The Student Room to ask university official reps and current students your questions. 

Bear in mind that course availability is changing all the time. You'll need to check with the universities that interest you before making an application. That means it's time to hit the phone and call up the admissions departments. This is your chance to quickly find out whether there will be availability on the courses that interest you, and also get an insight into whether that university is actually the right one for you.

During your phone call, make sure you explain your circumstances, your grades or predicted grades and tell them a bit about yourself. They will tell you whether they would consider you, and if they say 'yes' then you can apply. If they say 'no', then don't waste your application and find somewhere else instead.

Your personal statement

All other aspects of the application process remain the same. You will need a good personal statement and a reference. Let your teachers know as soon as possible that you're intending to apply so that they can get your reference arranged.

There's no need to approach your personal statement any differently, but you might find the extra time has given you more to talk about.

Follow these ten steps to writing an excellent personal statement and visit The Student Room's personal statement advice forum to get answers to any specific questions. 

What happens if you miss the 30 June deadline?

If you miss the 30 June deadline, you can still apply. It does mean that your application will go straight into the Clearing pool, but with more than 60,000 students finding their uni place via Clearing every year, that's not necessarily a bad place to be.

Remember that you also have the option to wait and apply next year instead. This means that you will have an extra year to think about what you want to do, and if you haven't taken your exams yet, it also means you'll be applying with confirmed grades. This can help lessen the stress of applying, as you'll know exactly where you stand and won't have to worry about conditional offers and meeting predicted grades.

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