Application Procedure

For many would-be students this is actually quite a daunting experience. Many university and college application forms are not as user-friendly as they could be,as a result the students end up confused.

Getting the application


If you have received a prospectus or other information from a university or college you will probably have received an application form as well (for postgraduate not undergraduate students). If they didn't send you one, you should question how serious they are about taking you as a student! Many institutions now have their application forms on their web site, and you should be able to download a form or even apply electronically.

Alternatively, you should be able to get an application form from your local British Council office. The Education Counselling Service (ECS) will have a variety of forms - institutions own forms, standard ECS forms for either postgraduate or undergraduate study.

Some universities and colleges also have what they call a pre-application form. This is so that potential undergraduate students can make an application to the institution in advance of submitting an application form. This is a quick way to find out whether your chosen university or college is able to offer you a place.

Completing the


If possible, try and word-process or type your application. Put yourself in the position of the person who will be dealing with your application. He/she will have to read through hundreds of applications every day, and if he/she cannot read your writing your application will be delayed or even rejected.

Unfortunately, many application forms cannot be typed, so you will have to hand write it. The golden rule is not to fill in the form until you are absolutely sure you know what you are going to say. The best thing to do is to make several photocopies of the form and have a few practice runs.

Complete the form in black ink - no other colour. Your form may well be photocopied at the institution and black is really the only colour that photocopies well. If your handwriting is untidy, or you think it may be difficult for somebody to read, then print it very carefully - in other words write each letter separately and don't try and join them up. Do not print everything in block capitals - documents entirely in capital letters are quite difficult to read.

What to


Give as much information as you can. Make sure you give full details of your education so far, complete information on the courses you have taken, the examinations you have passed, and the examinations you are due to take.

If you are applying for a postgraduate course, and work experience is relevant to the programme, then make sure you give full details of all the your jobs.

There may well be sections that require more than factual information. For example, you may be asked to say why you want to take a particular course, or why you want to go to that particular university or college. Don't try and be clever and flatter the institution - it won't get you anywhere. So don't say something like, "I want to go to your university because it is a famous university". Much better to say something about your career and how the particular aspects of the course fit with your future plans and your interests.

What else to send?

Sometimes the application form may not be big enough for you to give all the information you'd like the institution to have. If this happens continue your information on a separate piece of paper, but make sure you fix it to the application form (staple it - don't use paper clips), and at the top of each piece of paper put you name and the course you are applying for. This is a safeguard just in case your papers become separated.

You should also enclose with your application forms copies of any qualifications and transcripts of results. Send photocopies only - never send the originals. If your certificates and transcripts are in a non-European language then it is a good idea to provide a translation as well.

It is helpful, but not essential, to have the copies authenticated by the British Council. For a small fee the British Council will make the copies for you and stamp them to say that it has seen the originals.

Sending your


Make sure you keep a copy of your application. Not only is it useful if the original should get lost, but if you subsequently want to make other applications you can refer back to see what you wrote on your first application.

How you post your application will depend on how reliable you feel is your country's postal system. If it is unreliable then you may feel better sending it by registered post or even by courier.

The long wait?

How long should you wait for the answer to your application? Set yourself a date by which time you expect to receive an answer. Be realistic - post from some countries can take up to ten days to arrive in Britain and vice versa. Most institutions will try and turn around applications in the shortest possible time, but this can still be a week or so in the busy periods.

In most cases you should get an answer in a month to six weeks. If the time goes beyond six weeks then it is worth sending an e-mail to find out the progress on your application. Think twice about telephoning as it may take a while to get through to the right person, and then he/she will have to check on your application out of hundreds or thousands in the system - it could prove to be a long call.

Applying at exhibitions

Another way to make your application is to go to one of the many education exhibitions. This can shorten the process, as the representatives will be able to take your application, and in some cases even give you an offer of a place on the day.