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When will I hear back about my UK university applications?

The UK university equal consideration deadline has now passed, and one question I'm getting a lot from my students and parents is when they will hear back from admissions.

Unfortunately, the answer doesn't do much to calm the nerves; it's almost impossible to predict!

I've seen students receive an offer within 24 hours, and I've also seen students who applied in September receive an offer after seven months.

Although it's not ideal, there is no set waiting time, and this is due to a number of reasons.

After working for more than a decade in international university admissions, I'm happy to share a quick overview of how it often works behind the scenes.

Study in the UK

Admissions may be rolling or a 'gathered field' approach

If admissions is rolling, that means universities process the applications in the order in which they're received.

This is why it's always good to apply early -- so you can get an earlier result!

If it's gathered field, that means universities hold all the applications for a particular program until after the deadline and then review all applications equally; this is normally the case for competitive programs.

Speaking of deadlines, in the UK, the two main deadlines are the October 15 deadline for Oxford, Cambridge and medical, veterinary or dentistry courses, and the equal consideration deadline for all other (usually competitive) programs is at the end of January usually.

It's worth noting that the way applications are processed is course-specific.

Some universities may have rolling admissions for some programs and gathered field approaches for others.

Universities overseas don't release all their decisions on the same day

Unlike in the U.S., universities overseas manage the release of results differently.

Two students who applied for the same program might find out on different days, so just because a friend has heard back but you haven't doesn't imply you were unsuccessful.

International admissions may be decentralized, centralized or separated by region

Sometimes applications are processed by one single admissions team dedicated to international applications.

Sometimes they're processed by one central admissions team who does both domestic and international applications.

Sometimes they're processed by teams that specialize in a particular region (North America, Europe, etc.).

All of these factors can impact the speed at which students hear back.

Sometimes applications are referred to academics

Whilst admissions teams are usually professional administrative staff, there are many cases in which the application might take longer to process because they're referred out to the academics or professors for a final decision.

Prior to doing so, admin staff would first make sure all minimum academic qualifications have been achieved.

For example, programs that require portfolios or writing samples are often always managed this way and may take longer to process.

Summary: UK university application decisions

Ultimately, UK universities have until usually mid-May to reply to students who submitted before the equal consideration deadline.

To American students, this wait can truly seem like forever.

But since no one has a crystal ball as to when you'll hear back, the only thing you can do is be patient and wait!


Interested in applying for an undergraduate program in the UK?



G'day! My name is Sara, and I'm the founder of College Apps Abroad and a Certified Educational Planner (CEP), one of only 40 CEP's in California and 300 worldwide. I have more than 10 years of experience working in international recruitment and admissions, and I've studied and lived overseas myself in the UK, Ireland, Australia and Brazil for almost a decade. I've also worked for some of the world's top institutions, including The University of Edinburgh, the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and The University of Western Australia (UWA)!

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