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Will submitting an early Ucas application stand in your favour?

If you’re applying to uni, that all-important January Ucas deadline may be permanently lodged in your brain. But submitting your application early may increase your chances of being offered a place…

It really depends on which policy your preferred uni adopts – it could be one of these three:

How universities make offers

1. Immediate offers

The Ucas Apply system opens from mid-September, and some universities will start making offers as soon as they receive applications through – meaning you’ll be competing for fewer places if you’re a later applicant.

2. Wait and see

Other universities, meanwhile, won’t start making offers until after all applications are in, so individual candidates are judged against the wider cohort of applicants.

3. Best of both

Some unis start offering places to applicants as soon they receive applications through, but limit numbers so there’s still a high proportion of places available come January (when the vast majority of students make their application).

Should you submit your application sooner?

It may put you at an advantage to get your Ucas application submitted before January, but only if it fits around everything else going on. Before you send your application off, it's important to be sure that you've found the right course and have a strong personal statement.

Make sure you have a watch of these video tips from uni tutors to find out what a strong application really looks like... 

Watch now: How to make your university application stand out


Reasons for getting your Ucas application in early

Despite what you might have heard, submitting your application in October (around the Oxbridge applicant deadline) won’t disadvantage you with other universities.

All students applying by 15 January will be given equal consideration. The advantage to the applicant in applying earlier is that it means they can stop working on their application and concentrate on their studies, which is the single most importany factor in getting them to their first choice university. University Of Birmingham
Offers are made right up until the Ucas deadline and, even for highly competitive courses like physiotherapy or midwifery, every application received by 15 January is counted as an 'on time' application and will be considered equally. However, the biggest advantage to submitting the Ucas application earlier is that it gets it out of the way and allows you to focus upon achieving the best grades possible without needing to worry about completing your application. University Of Southampton
All applicants get equal consideration, so the only advantage of applying earlier is that you may hear a bit sooner due to fewer applicants earlier in the cycle. If the course interviews, you also get a better choice of interview dates and times. Bournemouth University


Reasons for relaxing and applying close to the deadline

You will have more time to decide and hopefully make the right decision about which universities and courses to apply for. It will also give you more time to visit university open days, and brush up your personal statement.

Whatever you do, your school or college may still need a few weeks to process the application anyway, before it is sent off.

We assess applications against fixed criteria and there is therefore no advantage, in selection terms, to applying earlier in the cycle. Angela Milln | Director Of Student Recruitment - University Of Bristol
From the student's point of view it is an advantage to apply earlier than the deadline so that they can get it out the way and they may receive replies earlier, but they need to make sure the application isn’t rushed and that they’ve researched their choices first. Fran Bonner And Becci Hubbard | Community Outreach Team - Nottingham Trent University

As a general rule of thumb, if you know what and where you want to study, try to get your application completed by November or earlier. If you’re unsure, give yourself more thinking space and aim for a later application.

Far better you make the right course choices than just an early one!

And if you do miss the 29 January Ucas application deadline, here are your options

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