The Education Blog

Insight 10th June, 2016

Applying to a Russell Group University

Firmly accept one of your offers, you can always decline it in August

I am assuming that you are currently in the middle of A-level examinations?  As you know, achieving the best possible A-level grades this summer needs to be your priority.

Russell Group universities frequently require A* grades for very popular subjects, such as English, plus at least two or more A* or A grades at A-level.  Very good GCSE grades will also form an important part of the Ucas tariff for highly selective universities, such as those in the Russell Group.

Clearing is a wonderful opportunity to find a university course that you had not initially considered.  However, the most over-subscribed courses, such as English, will not appear in Clearing, because they have a waiting list already.

For similar reasons, some Russell Group universities, plus Oxford and Cambridge Universities, don’t take part in Clearing at all.

If you’re eligible for Clearing and genuinely think you have something to offer these universities and courses – and by that, we mean outstanding exam results, a wealth of extra-curricular evidence and a proven interest in the subject – it could be worth approaching them direct.

Which? University

The Which? University website offers these wise words: “If you’re eligible for Clearing and genuinely think you have something to offer these universities and courses  and by that, we mean outstanding exam results, a wealth of extra-curricular evidence and a proven interest in the subject  it could be worth approaching them direct. But be ready for rejection or an invitation to apply next year instead.”

My own advice is to firmly accept one of your offers – and possibly a second insurance offer – via Ucas before the 24 June 2016 deadline. You can always decline these offers in August and re-apply again via Ucas for 2017.

However, the euphoria of achieving or exceeding your A-level grades this August might suddenly make university an exciting immediate prospect.

A final suggestion: re-writing and improving your personal statement will be important for any post-A-level re-application you make via Ucas. Universities will want evidence that your proposed gap year plans will enhance your potential as an undergraduate on your chosen course.

Good graduate schemes do seek the best graduates. However, an impressive record of work experience with a company during your gap year or a summer vacation could result in an invitation to apply for their graduate scheme, whichever university you attend.

Good luck – and keep revising.

Vivienne Durham, schools advisory director at Enjoy Education and former head at Francis Holland School, Regent’s Park

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