The Professional Mum - Applying to University

If your child is about to enter Year 13, they may be considering making an application to university. The pros of a university education are well known: the achievement of intellectual satisfaction, the cut and thrust of academic debate and the chance to live independently, not to mention the potential enhanced earning power.

Universities in the UK offer more than 43,000 courses covering over 1,000 subjects so there is a course for almost everyone. The administration process of university application begins early in year 13, so by now, ideally, your child should have an emerging idea of the course that they wish to pursue and where they want to study. The UCAS website details universities and the courses that they offer. University websites outline course content in more detail, and often offer open days where prospective students and their families can meet academics and students, also viewing teaching facilities and accommodation.

Students can apply for up to five courses. If they choose fewer, they can add extra ones later. There is no order of preference and universities are not told which other institutions the student has applied to. Entry requirements for most courses hinge on applicants' exam results. Most take A-levels but 49 types of qualification are officially recognised by UCAS, including BTEC, Scottish highers and the International Baccalaureate. A good starting point is to check the entry requirements in terms of both qualifications and suitability for the course. If your child is in year 13 and therefore still studying for a qualification needed to win a place on a higher education course the course provider might make a conditional offer.

Some courses will require prospective students to attend an interview, audition or provide a portfolio. This gives the course providers the opportunity to meet students before making an offer.