Applying to UK Universities: How Many?

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Written By Dr Shane McKeown

UK Universities: Navigating the Application Process

Deciding which university to attend is a life-changing decision, and it can be a daunting task to choose the best one for you.

But how many unis can you apply to in the UK?

You can apply to a maximum of 5 universities in one year. One first choice, and four back-up options.

Now let’s explore the UCAS application process, and how to make the most of your applications.

Understanding the UCAS Application Process

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) is the centralised service that manages university applications in the UK. The main application deadline for most undergraduate courses is in mid-January. However, some courses, such as medicine, dentistry, and veterinary science, have an earlier deadline in mid-October.

The UCAS Deadline and Fees

There is a fee for applying through UCAS, which is £22 for a single choice or £26.50 for multiple choices (up to a maximum of five).

UCAS Points and Eligibility

UCAS points are awarded based on your qualifications, such as A-levels, BTECs, or the International Baccalaureate. These points are used by universities to assess your eligibility for their courses. Before applying, ensure that you meet the minimum UCAS points required by your chosen universities and courses.

The Maximum Number of Choices Allowed

UCAS allows you to apply to a maximum of five choices for undergraduate courses. This limit includes both universities and courses. You may apply to multiple courses at the same university or multiple universities offering the same course.

Limitations on Specific Courses

For medicine, dentistry, and veterinary science courses, you can only apply to a maximum of four choices. For your fifth choice, you may apply to another course or university, as long as it is not one of these three subjects.

Advantages of Applying to Multiple UK Universities

Applying to multiple universities increases your chances of receiving offers. This is particularly useful for competitive courses or universities where the acceptance rate may be lower.

You apply to uk universities ‘in bulk’ (five different universities in total) so that your applications if you apply like this have a greater chance of succeeding.

Applications to one university can succeed, but you would be better to choose five courses at five universities!

Finding the Best Fit

By applying to multiple universities, you can explore various campus cultures, teaching styles, and course structures. This will help you find the university that is the best fit for your personal and academic preferences.

Exploring Different Courses and Locations

Applying to different universities and courses allows you to consider various locations and learning environments. You may discover a university or course that you had not previously considered, opening up new opportunities for your future.

How to Choose Which Universities to Apply to

Before applying, evaluate your academic profile, including your predicted grades, UCAS points, and extracurricular activities. This will help you determine which universities and courses are the most realistic and suitable options for you.

If you don’t meet many of the university admission requirements, do check what your uni looks at most closely. Some do take into account extra information such as early years achievements like GCSEs, student body leadership and more, so you will likely find a UK university for you.

Researching University Rankings

Consult university league tables and subject-specific rankings to gauge the reputation and quality of teaching at various institutions. Keep in mind that rankings should not be the only factor in your decision-making process, as they may not fully reflect your personal preferences and needs.

Visiting University Open Days

Attending open days or virtual events can help you gain a better understanding of campus life, course content, and support services available. It also gives you the opportunity to ask questions, meet current students, and explore the facilities on offer.

Consulting with Teachers, Family, and Friends

Seek advice from teachers, family members, and friends who have experience with the university application process. They can provide valuable insight and guidance on which universities might be a good fit for you, based on their own experiences and knowledge. Teachers and career advisors, in particular, can help you identify universities that align with your academic strengths and interests. They can also provide guidance on crafting a strong personal statement and preparing for interviews.

Family members and friends who have attended university can share their experiences and offer advice on what they liked or didn’t like about their universities. This can help you make a more informed decision and avoid potential pitfalls when choosing the right university for you.

Application Tips for International Students

International students face unique challenges when applying to UK universities. Here are some tips to help you navigate the application process:

Check Entry Requirements

Make sure you meet the specific entry requirements for international students, which may include English language proficiency tests such as IELTS or TOEFL. Additionally, some universities may require international qualifications to be converted to UK equivalents or UCAS points.

Research Funding and Scholarships

Investigate funding options and scholarships available for international students. Many universities offer scholarships based on academic merit or financial need. You may also be eligible for external funding from your home country or international organisations.

Consider Visa Requirements

Ensure you understand the visa requirements for studying in the UK. Familiarise yourself with the application process and any additional documents you may need to provide, such as proof of funding or a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from your chosen university.

Applying for Masters Courses in the UK

For students interested in pursuing a Masters degree, the application process may differ from that of undergraduate courses. Here are some key points to consider:

Course-Specific Applications

Unlike undergraduate applications, which are managed through UCAS, applications for Masters courses are typically submitted directly to the university. Each university may have its own application portal and requirements, so it is important to research these beforehand.

Application Deadlines

Application deadlines for Masters courses may vary between universities and courses. Some may have rolling admissions, while others may have fixed deadlines. Be sure to check the specific deadlines for each course you are interested in.

Entry Requirements and Supporting Documents

Masters courses often have more specific entry requirements, such as a minimum undergraduate degree classification, relevant work experience, or a personal statement. Make sure to gather all necessary supporting documents, including transcripts, references, and a CV, before submitting your application.


Applying to universities in the UK is an exciting and important step in your academic journey. Through the UCAS system, you can apply to a maximum of five universities or courses, with some specific limitations for certain courses. By applying to multiple universities, you increase your chances of acceptance, find the best fit for your needs, and explore various courses and locations.

To make the most informed decision, assess your academic profile, research university rankings, attend open days, and consult with teachers, family, and friends. By taking these steps, you can confidently navigate the application process and choose the best universities for your academic and personal growth.


  1. How many universities can I apply to in the UK through UCAS?
    A: You can apply to a maximum of five universities or courses through UCAS.
  2. Are there any exceptions to the five-choice limit?
    A: Yes, there are limitations on specific courses. You can only apply to a maximum of four choices for Medicine, Dentistry, and Veterinary Science/Medicine. If you’re applying for the University of Cambridge or the University of Oxford, you can only apply to one of these universities in a single application cycle.
  3. When is the UCAS application deadline?
    A: The main UCAS application deadline is usually in mid-January, but some courses and universities have earlier deadlines, especially for international students. It’s essential to check the specific deadlines for each course and university you’re interested in.
  4. How much does it cost to apply through UCAS?
    A: The UCAS application fee for the 2021/2022 cycle was £22 for a single choice and £26 for multiple choices. Fees may change annually, so it’s important to check the UCAS website for the most up-to-date information.
  5. What should I consider when applying for Masters courses in the UK?
    A: When applying for Masters courses, remember that the application process is often different from undergraduate applications. Key points to consider include course-specific applications, varying application deadlines, and more specific entry requirements. Ensure you have all necessary supporting documents before submitting your application.
  6. What tips can you give to international students applying to UK universities?
    A: International students should check entry requirements for their specific qualifications, research funding and scholarship options, and familiarize themselves with UK visa requirements. Taking these steps can help ensure a smooth application process and increase the chances of acceptance.

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