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University admission or college admission is the process through which students enter tertiary education at universities and colleges. Systems vary widely from country to country, and sometimes from institution to institution.
In many countries, prospective university students apply for admission during their last year of high school or community college. In some countries, there are independent organizations or government agencies to centralize the administration of standardized admission exams and the processing of applications.
As Australia uses a Federal system of government, responsibility for education, and admission to Technical and Further Education colleges and undergraduate degrees at universities for domestic students, are in the domain of state and territory government (see Education in Australia). All states except Tasmania have centralized processing units for admission to undergraduate degrees for citizens of Australia and New Zealand, and for Australian permanent residents; however applications for international and postgraduate students are usually accepted by individual universities. The Australian government operates the Higher Education Contribution Scheme(This has been replaced by the very similar HELP - higher Education Loan Program) for undergraduate students, so admission is rarely limited by prospective students' ability to pay up-front. All states use a system that awards the recipient with an Equivalent National Tertiary Entrance Rank, or ENTER, and the award of an International Baccalaureate meets the minimum requirements for admission in every state. The Special Tertiary Admissions Test is the standard test resulting in an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank with the maximum being 99.95.
Northern Territory 
The South Australian Tertiary Admissions Centre accepts applications for Northern Territory tertiary institutions. Year 12 students are awarded the Northern Territory Certificate of Education and must meet course requirements.
The Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre accepts applications for Queensland tertiary institutions. Year 12 students are awarded an Overall Position, based on their performance in class subjects and their school's average result in the Queensland Core Skills Test, as well as meeting course requirements.
South Australia 
The South Australian Tertiary Admissions Centre accepts applications for South Australian tertiary institutions. Year 12 students are awarded the South Australian Certificate of Education, and must meet course requirements. Their year 12 results are compared with students from the same year to determine their Tertiary Entrance Rank (T.E.R.).
Tasmanian school leavers applying for entrance at the University of Tasmania need to apply directly to the university. Tasmanian school students receive a Tertiary Entrance Rank on successful completion of the Tasmanian Certificate of Education. Students from interstate wishing to study at UTas may apply through either the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre, or directly through the University.
The Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre accepts applications for Victorian tertiary institutions. Applications consist of standardized test results and meeting institutional requirements. The standard certification for school-leavers is the Victorian Certificate of Education.
Western Australia 
Austria, Switzerland, and Belgium 
Austria, Switzerland, and Belgium probably have the most liberal system of university admission anywhere in the world, since anyone who has passed the Matura may enroll in any subject field (or even several at no additional cost) at a public university. In Belgium as well, the only prerequisite for enrolling in university studies is to have obtained a high-school diploma. In both Switzerland and Belgium, medical studies are an exception, which have a numerus clausus system due to overcrowding. This liberal admission practice led to overcrowding and high dropout rates in the more popular fields of study like psychology and journalism, as well as high failure rates on examinations which are unofficially[clarification needed] used to filter out the less-capable students. Following a ruling by the European Court of Justice issued on July 7, 2005, which forces Austria to accept nationals of other EU Member States under the same conditions as students who took their Matura in Austria, a law was passed on June 8 allowing universities to impose measures to select students in those fields which are subject to numerus clausus in Germany. Starting in 2006, the three medical universities (in Vienna, Innsbruck and Graz) did introduce entrance exams. There are no intentions to introduce a numerus clausus in any subject field.
In order to enter university in Brazil, candidates must undergo a public open examination called "Vestibular", which lasts about 1 week and takes place once a year. Some universities may run Vestibular twice a year, for two yearly intakes instead of only one. This option is popular with private universities, while public universities usually run Vestibular only once every year (in November, December or January). Universities offer a limited number of places, and the best ranked candidates according to their overall Vestibular grade are selected for admission. Although the Vestibular format changes from university to university, it typically consists of a week-long examination on compulsory high school subjects such as Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, History, Geography, Portuguese language and literature, and a foreign language (usually English). Private universities usually "condense" this week-long examinations into a couple of days, but some public universities still require a week-long marathon.
Since public universities are completely tuition-free, competition at the Vestibular is usually fierce for a place in a public university. Due to high number of applicants, the Vestibular at some public universities may include a preliminary elimination phase (known as "Primeira Fase"), typically consisting of multiple-choice questions and held between one and two months before the subject exams. A minimum cutoff score is normally required at the elimination phase to advance to the second part of the Vestibular.
National Unified Admissions System 
In recent years, university admission criteria have been considerably changed by the introduction by the federal government of a new national secondary school exam known as ENEM (Exame Nacional do Ensino Médio) and the creation of a unified, national university application system known as SISU (Sistema de Seleção Unificada). Candidates in any Brazilian state can now apply for admission into courses available in the SISU system, even if the course of interest is offered by an out-of-state university. Places in any given course within the system are then filled based on the ranking of the applicants in descending order according to their overall grade in the ENEM. The application process is divided into three stages and candidates who fail to get a place in their course/university of interest in a given stage may re-apply either to the same or to a different course/university in subsequent stages.
In theory, any Brazilian university, either public or private, is free to join the SISU system and select their incoming freshman class based on ENEM marks. As of today, most public universities have joined SISU, but a few of them, most notably some of the most prestigious federal universities (e.g. UNIFESP, UFRJ, UFMG, UFRGS) have retained their own independent Vestibular exams, on top of the national ENEM, either for admission into all or part of their undergraduate courses.
Sometimes the ENEM replaces the old elimination Part I ("primeira fase") of the Vestibular. Alternatively, ENEM results may be used as part of the final overall grade in the Vestibular. More rarely, a few public universities have decided not to use ENEM grades at all and continue to base their admission criteria on the Vestibular only. Notable examples in the latter group include the highly prestigious federal military schools like ITA and IME and, as of 2010, the prestigious state research universities in the state of São Paulo (USP and UNICAMP). Resistance to the ENEM among some top public universities comes mostly from the perception that the national federal exam is less selective/rigorous than the older independent Vestibular.
Admission Quotas 
Another important recent development in university admissions in Brazil has been the introduction in most federal universities of a quota system where a certain number of places are reserved a priori to applicants of a certain racial/ethnic background who have completed their pre-university studies in a public (i.e. state-funded) school. Candidates who qualify may apply to a course of interest under the quota system either through the national SISU system or directly at their university of choice ( in case that university uses both its independent Vestibular and the national ENEM exam to select applicants). Again as a notable exception, the selective federal military schools and the state universities in São Paulo have so far refused to use any quota system based on race or schooling background. USP and UNICAMP, however, have instituted a race-blind "social inclusion program" that gives a bonus in the final Vestibular mgrade to candidates who come from the public secondary schools, thus boosting their chances of securing a place in certain university courses of interest without necessarily using a pre-determined quota.
Undergraduate entry 
In Canada, students applying from high school generally hear word back from a college or university between late March and late May, though offers of admission may be extended to high achievers (through GPA or other submissions) as early as November–January. Internationals/US applicants are likely to receive an offer or rejection by early April, depending on the original submission of documents. In some cases, an institution may offer admission in a high schoolers Grade 11 year, if monetary fees are sent in early.
Dual Admission 
Many Canadian universities offer dual admission to students upon completion of their graduation requirements.
For example, grade 11 and 12 students at Columbia International College can apply for dual admission at Canadian universities such as York University, University of Alberta, Brock University and Cape Breton University.
College vs. university 
Acceptance to any Canadian university or college requires completion of a high school diploma, such as the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD). Completion of pre-secondary education in Canada almost always means the student has:
- Successfully completed (passed) a provincial or federal Literacy test,
- Successfully completed (passed) a certain number of credits (30 in Ontario) in a Canadian high school curriculum.
In order to graduate, some provinces also require students to complete 40 hours of community service/volunteer work.
In Canada, the difference between college and university is significantly different than typical interpretation in the United States or even United Kingdom. A Canadian college is more similar to an American community college. In contrast, a Canadian university is comparable to an American university, and virtually all Canadian universities have endowments over $20 million, most frequently above $100 million. It should be noted that almost all Canadian post-secondary institutions are publicly funded, as in, government subsidized. The few private institutions that are not government-supported are not widely known at all, have generally only been established since the 1980s, and are mostly located in British Columbia.
In the Canadian education system, which varies from province to province, colleges are geared for individuals seeking applied careers, such as a chef or graphic designer. Universities are geared for individuals seeking more academic careers, and a university degree is required for entrance to virtually any Canadian (unless applying in-province for a Quebec university) professional school, to become a lawyer, doctor etc. There are other systems in place for students to enter traditional trades (called "skilled" trades in Canada), and some provinces have unique preparatory systems or schools, such as Quebec's CEGEP Program.
- In 2007, national headlines were made when the Obay Campaign was launched by Colleges Ontario as an effort to bring awareness to "academic snobbery" that exists in Canada, where college is typically considered a low second-choice to university. It is also incredibly rare for students leaving high school to consider both college and university, most standing firm on one choice as being their 'only option'.
Admissions requirements 
Admission to colleges and universities in Canada has been a straightforward process since the 1970s. Students generally rank their choice institutions in order of preference and submit their transcript to the institution or provincial application service for evaluation. In the majority of cases, acceptance is based entirely on marks, with potential for elevation depending on what province an applicant may be from. Applicants in-province typically have much less stringent grade requirements than out-of-province applicants. For instance, a student applying from an Ontario high school to a university in Alberta or Quebec is likely to require marginally elevated grades, as opposed to applying to any school in Ontario itself, where universities and colleges have far lower requirements for their own province's high school graduates.
College requirements vary more significantly, though none have entrance requirements above 85% from a Canadian high school. In general though, more well-respected colleges (such as George Brown College, and Mohawk College) accept a very high proportion of students with averages above 70%, although they may place no limiting minimum for acceptance, and consequently take students with averages below 60%. Incidentally, even the newest, least-reputable Canadian universities have larger endowments than any Canadian college, with no Canadian college having an endowment above $10 million. See List of Canadian universities by endowment.
Special cases 
Students with an IB Diploma can generally enter either college or university more easily than other Canadian high schoolers, due to the material covered in the program. Like students with AP credits, they may also clip courses in university with faculty consent.
In the case of more select university programs, and for almost all international students, an essay, statement of intent or personal statement of experience must be submitted directly to the faculty being applied for. Additionally, letters of reference, examples of extracurricular involvement, additional community service endeavours, athletic participation, awards and scholarships won and more may all be required items for acceptance to some of Canada's top programs.
Comparability of admissions 
Although there is little competition for university admissions in Canada, there are an array of highly competitive programs, on par with some mid to top tier programs in the United States (which has a much larger applicant pool to draw from). In addition, a large portion (upwards of 30%) of university graduates in Canada continue on to pursue further education beyond an undergraduate degree, simply because employability standards are high in the country, often demanding multiple degrees for well-paying jobs.
Achieving entrance to any of five dozen universities in Canada poses little to no difficulty for any student who has graduated high school (or earned an equivalent diploma outside North America). On average, achieving the necessary grades for admission to a worthwhile Canadian university or college is very easy.
Post-graduate entry 
Post-graduate schools in Canada are, as with other parts of the world, restricted to universities (i.e. One cannot get a Masters degree from a Canadian college). Admission to any post-graduate program in Canada is difficult, with many universities having world-renowned programs, and Canadian graduate schools being the sites for many famous inventions and discoveries.
See also 
- Post-Secondary Application Service of British Columbia (British Columbia)
- Ontario Universities' Application Centre (Ontario)
- Ontario College Application Service (Ontario).
- List of colleges in Canada
- List of universities in Canada
- Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada
- List of Canadian universities by endowment
In Chile university admission as a freshman is based on the Prueba de Selección Universitaria scores of the applicant. Chilean Traditional Universities tend to put a strong emphasis on Prueba de Selección Universitaria while the majority of the private universities use their owns test or handle Prueba de Selección Universitaria scores in a different way than the Chilean Traditional Universities. Architecture, theatre and psychology schools do also often give high value to special tests.
Mainland China 
In the People's Republic of China, the National College Entrance Examination (高考, gaokao) is given each summer and required for each student. The exam covers common school topics such as math, language, history, science, etc. Better institutions require higher scores for admittance. The required score also varies by province: students in more competitive provinces, like Jiangsu, need higher scores than students from less competitive areas such as Tibet. Conversely, wealthier cities have more universities per capita and hence lower university entrance standards than some poorer provinces. In 2006 for example, the minimum score to enter a key university for applicants from Beijing is 516 but the minimum score for applicants from Henan is 591.
Some fields of study explicitly encourage applicants to judge their chances realistically. For example, a student may apply to only one medical school per year. Therefore, choosing to apply to the more competitive medical schools is risky, if the student is not sure about their strength.
For universities of technology, there is a similar, but less strict mechanism. The students gain extra priority points, which may increase their points for the first choice by up to 12.5%. If a student was admitted to several programs, they can't accept any other than the one with the highest priority.
In Germany prospective students who have passed the Abitur may decide freely what subjects to enroll in. Recently, however, in some of the most popular and most desired subject fields students have to pass a certain numerus clausus — that is, they cannot enroll unless they have scored a minimum grade point average on their Abitur.
One should distinguish two types of higher education institutions in Germany, the universities (including Technische Hochschulen) and the Fachhochschulen (polytechnics). A prospective students who has passed the Abitur is qualified for admission to every German university, with the exception of very few new degree programs, where additional entrance examinations were recently introduced. A Fachhochschule, in contrast, often requires from the student the completing of an internship to qualify for admission.
There is also a second German school leaving exam, which qualifies the prospective students for admission to higher education in Germany, the Fachhochschulreife, often called Fachabitur in colloquial usage. An internship is already part of the Fachhochschulreife itself, therefore a Fachhochschule requires no additional internship from the student. However, most universities do not accept this qualification for admission. An exception are universities in the German state of Hesse, who accept this qualification since 2004 for admission to Bachelor's degree courses, but not to the traditional German Diplom degree courses. But with Fachhochschulreife (university of applied sciences entrance qualification) you can visit any Fachhochschule (university of applied sciences) in Germany. You can see the difference between a University / Technische Hochschule and a Fachoberschule very quickly: A Fachhochschule has often the words "University of Applied Science" next to its name.
Hong Kong 
In the old system HKALE 
In the new system HKDSE 
The major criterion of selection is HKDSE result. To a smaller extent interview performances and to an even smaller extent secondary school performances.
Both public and private universities in Iceland handle their own admissions. Students apply for a specific course of study and each programme has its own requirements. These are usually a matriculation exam but sometimes a minimum number of credits in certain subjects in gymnasium or even passing an entry test is needed. Foreign students must apply half a year prior to the first semester but the time limit for Nordic citizens is not as strict.
Most Indian universities participate in one or another centralized admission procedure. In summer 2011, an Indian institution was expecting 100% score for gaining admission, highlighting the crisis of confidence in quality of higher education in general and also limitations of admissions process. National tests and interviews are organized by an independent body composed of members of the participating organizations. Little weight is given to applicants’ past academic record and more to their exam results. Applicants are ranked by exam grades, and submit their preference of universities/programs based on their rank and choice. Some such common entrance tests are:
- Joint Entrance Exam (JEE), the undergraduate exam for the seven Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs);
- Common Admission Test (CAT), XAT, JMAT, MAT or SNAP, the graduate exams for the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and other business schools;
- Graduate Admission Test of Engineering (GATE), the graduate exam for the IITs;
- All India Engineering Entrance Exam (AIEEE) for admission to Undergraduate Engineering and Architecture / Design courses;
- Pre Medical Test (PMT)-conducted by the CBSE; the entrance exam for admission to MBBS program;
However, Things have now changed and the AIEEE is converted into JEE (MAIN). And the earlier JEE for IITs has converted into JEE (Advanced). All students first have to qualify JEE (MAIN) to be able to appear in JEE (Advanced) under certain criterion. Students need to be in the 20 percentile of their respective boards. Their score of JEE (MAIN) will be formulated by combining the 40% score of their BOARD Examination and 60% of their JEE (MAIN) paper's score. Only the pure JEE (ADVANCED) score will be considered for selection in IITs. JEE (Main) will be on the same pattern as earlier AIEEE. JEE (ADVANCED) will be on the same pattern as earlier JEE. Changes in system take place from 2012.
States have their own admissions exams and policies. For example, the state of Maharashtra uses the HSC test as a prerequisite for entering Degree level college and uses the SSC test as a prerequisite for entering Junior Level college as well as Diploma Level College.Apart from that 15% reserved for NRI / Foreign students
In Indonesia, University and College Admission is dependent on the University or College Status. Generally, Public Universities conduct their admission in unified system (as in 2012, as SNMPTN: Unified National Public Universities Admission). However, some public universities are conducting other selection mechanism on their own beside the Unified National Public Universities Admission. Meanwhile, Private Universities are usually done their admission before and after Public Universities Admission. Governmental Agency Institutes are done their admission independently (not included in Unified National Public Universities Admission).
In Ireland, students in their final year of secondary education apply to the Central Applications Office, listing several courses at any of the third-level institutions in order of preference. Students then receive points based on their Leaving Certificate, and places on courses are offered to those who applied who received the highest points.
In Israel there is a test called The Psychometric Entrance Test (PET). The PET covers three areas: mathematics, verbal reasoning and the English language. It is administered by the Israeli National Institute for Testing and Evaluation (NITE) and is heavily weighed for university admissions.
In Palestine there is a National Center for Examinations and Evaluation.
In Palestine, students are required to undergo the Tawjihi examinations, which then allow the universities (In the West Bank) to consider each pupil.
In the Netherlands, prospective students have to choose, two years before graduation, for a graduation type (e.g. natural science graduation type). Subjects at Dutch universities freely accept all students who have chosen the correct graduation type (e.g. to enroll in physics, the graduation type 'natural sciences' is required). All other students have to pass an exam to be enrolled (this is the exception). Popular subjects, such as medicine or dental medicine have a numerus fixus, meaning that a limited number of students may enroll for this subject at a particular university. To decide who is allowed, a lottery is held in which ones grades influence chances of being chosen (an indirect and incomplete numerus clausus).
In Nigeria, undergraduate admissions into universities, polytechnics, monotechnics, and colleges of education and agriculture is administered by a centralized federal government agency known as the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB. The body conducts Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) for prospective university, polytechnics, monotechnics, and colleges of education and agriculture students seeking entrance into tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
In Norway candidates are admitted to entry-level programs through the Norwegian Universities and Colleges Admission Service, that ranks qualified students based on a point scheme, that is based on grades and the degree of specialization and choice of study at upper secondary school, as well as age. At Master level admission is based on the grade average at the Bachelor level.
In Pakistan for undergraduate admissions the national universities have common entrance tests which are SAT based and are held according to provincial zones, the private universities hold their own entrance test which are also SAT based.
For postgraduate admissions some of the universities hold tests which are followed by interviews and others take interviews only.
For Medical studies there is huge competition as there are a few medical colleges. They require test as well as interview.
In Portugal admission to higher education level studies requires the secondary school credential, Diploma de Ensino Secundário, which is achieved after completing the first twelve study years. Students must have studied the subjects for which they are entering to be prepared for the entrance exams. Also they are required to be previously specialised in a specific area at the secondary school, one of the following four: Science and Technologies, Economics, Languages or Arts. Students sit for one or more entrance exams, Concurso nacional for public institutions or Concurso local for private institutions. In addition to passing entrance exams, students must fulfil particular prerequisites for the chosen course. Enrollment is limited; each year the institution establishes the number of places available. For the public institutions the exam scores count for the final evaluation, which includes the secondary school average marks. Then the students have to choose six institutions/courses they prefer to attend, in preferential order. The ones, who reach the marks needed to attend the desired institution/course, given the attributed vacant, will be admitted. Some public university courses demands generally higher admission marks than most similar courses at some polytechnical institutes or private institutions. (see also Education in Portugal)
Traditionally, the universities and institutes conducted their own admissions tests regardless of the applicants' school record. There were no uniform measure of graduates' abilities; marks issued by high schools were perceived as incompatible due to grading variances between schools and regions. In 2003 the Ministry of Education launched the Unified state examination (USE) program. The set of standardized tests for high school graduates, issued uniformly throughout the country and rated independent of the student's schoolmasters, akin to North American SAT, was supposed to replace entrance exams to state universities. Thus, the reformers reasoned, the USE will empower talented graduates from remote locations to compete for admissions at the universities of their choice, at the same time eliminating admission-related bribery, then estimated at 1 billion US dollars annually. In 2003, 858 university and college workers were indicted for bribery, admission "fee" in MGIMO allegedly reached 30,000 US dollars.
University heads, notably Moscow State University rector Viktor Sadovnichiy, resisted the novelty, arguing that their schools cannot survive without charging the applicants with their own entrance hurdles. Nevertheless, the legislators enacted USE in February 2007. In 2008 it was mandatory for the students and optional for the universities; it is fully mandatory since 2009. A few higher education establishments are still allowed to introduce their own entrance tests in addition to USE scoring; such tests must be publicized in advance.(see also Education in Russia)
Admission in Sweden requires completion of secondary education, along with the proper specific qualifications (e.g. science in high school to study science in college). Prospective students are admitted based on their grade point average or SAT, although majors such as theatre and architecture may require some extra work.
In general, Thailand uses the centralized admission system. In this system, student hoping to finish secondary school or its equivalent is expected to sit many examinations. The one required for nearly all universities is the Ordinary National Education Test (O-NET) aiming to test basic knowledge across the following subjects required under the Thai law:
- Thai Language and Literature
- English Language
- Comprehensive Sciences
- Social Studies
- Health Education
- Arts and Culture
Students then may use the O-NET test score to apply to particulat university through the direct admission system by taking tests conducted by particular university. However, most students still use the centralized admission system. In this system, they are expected to take another two aptitude tests, aiming at testing their ability to succeed in university. The first one is General Aptitude Test (GAT). GAT tests the reasoning ability and English proficiency of the candidates. It asks students to link and identity relationships between events. The English section is comparable to the TOEFL test, but is completely objective in nature. Both O-NET and GAT examinations are scored by computer.
The second examination is the Professional Aptitude Test (PAT). Students may choose to take the tests that are required by the program they are applying to. Therefore, they don't have to take all tests like the O-NET. The subjects offered are as follow:
- Advanced Mathematics, testing students ability in discrete mathematics, pure mathematics, and discriptive mathematics, including Calculus and Statistics. The test is completely objective, consisting of multiple choices and student-produced response.
- Sciences. It is divided into three section, Physics, Chemistry, and Biology. Students must take all sections. The test is completely objective. It contains mostly multiple choices question but sometimes student-produced response as well.
- Engineering Aptitude. It tests candidates' ability in Physics and Chemistry as well as their ability to apply their knowledge. The test is completely objective, consisting of multiple choices and student-produced response.
- Architecture Aptitude. It tests candidates's ability in non-numerical Physics and aptitude in basic arts and design. There are questions that ask students to design a room with furnitures given. These questions are completely objective and are scored by computer. The test contains a subjective section, testing candidates' ability to sktech and draw
- Education-specific Professional Aptitude. It tests students' moral standard and ability to work with students as teacher.
- Fine and Applied Arts. It tests candidates' knowledge in the visual art, music theory, performance arts. It
- Languages. As English is already tests in GAT, PAT tests candidates' ability in other modern languages. Candidates can choose from French, German, Japanese, Chinese, Arabic, and Pali.
The students are responsible to report all scores to the central admission system. They are required to choose a program or faculty that they want to study in. After that, different mathematical formula is used to weighed students' scores for that program. For instance, Pharmocology requires high scores on Sciences, while Economics requires high score in Mathematics. After the score is weighed, students are offered decision only according to their scores. Some exception might occur in program, such fine and applied arts as students are required to submit porfolio for consideration.
The only exception to centralized admission system and direct admission system is Medicine and Dentistry, which have their own admission system. Students will need to take the following tests to be eligible for consideration:
- Thai Language and Literature
- Social Studies
- Medicine and Dentistry-specific Aptitude Test. This tests include a hard form of reasoning tests as in first part of GAT. It also includes tests of Ethics and reading analysis and synthesis. In Ethics section, students are asked to choose 3 most "ethical" decision based on the situation described. In reading synthesis section, they are given time to read an article, then article is taken away. They are asked to answer multiple choices question on the passage.
Students' scores are also weighed, and admission decision is made accordingly.
United Kingdom 
Undergraduate entry 
The application process 
The United Kingdom has a centralised system of admissions to higher education at undergraduate level, UCAS. In general, students are not admitted to universities and colleges as a whole, but to particular courses of study.
During the first few months (September to December) of the final year of school or sixth form college (age 17/18) or after having left school, applicants register on the UCAS website and select five courses at higher education institutes (fewer choices are permitted for the more competitive subjects such as medicine and veterinary medicine). If the applicant is still at school, his or her teachers will give him or her predicted grades for their A-level, Highers or IB subjects, which are then used for the application. If the applicant has already left school, he or she applies with results already obtained. The applicant must provide a personal statement describing in their own words why they want to study that particular subject and why they would be a committed student, and their school must provide an academic reference. Some universities (e.g. Oxford, Cambridge, Manchester, Imperial College, King's College London or University College London) and some disciplines (e.g. medicine) routinely require shortlisted candidates to attend an interview and/or complete special admissions tests before deciding whether to make an offer. In the absence of tests and interviews, the personal statement and reference can be decisive, as many students are likely to apply to competitive courses with similar predicted and actual grades.
In general, applications must be received mid-January for courses that start the following Autumn. However the deadline is three months earlier, in mid-October, where the application includes a medical, dentistry or veterinary course, or any course at Oxbridge.
For each course applied for, the applicant receives a response from the institution: rejection, conditional offer or unconditional offer. If a conditional offer is received, the student can only take up the place on the course if they later fulfil the stated conditions: normally the achievement of specific grades in their forthcoming exams. If no offers are received following the initial application, or the applicant does not wish to take up any of their offers, UCAS+ can be used. Applicants can then apply to one course at a time in order to try to find a suitable offer.
Following the receipt of offers, whether after the initial application, or through UCAS+, the applicant chooses two courses for which offers have been made: a first choice and a second choice. If the conditions of the first choice offer are later met, the applicant may attend this course. If the applicant does not fulfil the conditions of their first choice, but does fulfil the conditions of their second "insurance" choice, they can attend their second choice course. If they fail to meet the conditions of both offers, they may choose to go through "clearing". This involves ringing up or sending their application to different universities in the hope of finding a place on another course. Many students do successfully find places through this route.
Factors affecting admission 
Whether to admit an applicant to a course is entirely the decision of each individual university. They will base their decision on a variety of factors, but primarily the grades predicted or already received in school leaver examinations. As more and more applicants are attaining higher and higher grades in the A level examinations, most universities also use secondary admissions criteria. These may include results at GCSE or Standard grade examinations (or equivalent), the references provided on the application and the information provided on the personal statement. The personal statement can often be the deciding factor between two similar candidates so a small industry has sprung up offering false personal statements for a fee. UCAS uses "similarity detection" software to detect personal statements that have been written by third parties or copied from other sources, and universities can reject applications for this reason.
The personal statements generally describe why the applicant wants to study the subject they have applied for, what makes them suitable to study that subject, what makes them suitable to study at degree level generally, any relevant work experience they have gained, their extracurricular activities and any other relevant factors. This is the only way admissions tutors can normally get an impression of what a candidate is really like and assess the applicant's commitment to the subject.
In addition to the information provided on the UCAS form, some universities ask candidates to attend an interview. Oxford and Cambridge almost always interview applicants, unless, based on the UCAS form and/or admissions tests, they do not believe the applicant has any chance of admission. Other universities may choose to interview, though only in some subjects and on a much smaller scale, having already filtered out the majority of candidates. The interview gives the admissions tutors another chance to assess the candidate's suitability for the course.
Universities are increasingly being put under pressure from central Government to admit people from a wider range of social backgrounds. Social background can only be assessed by the type of school attended, as no information about income or background is otherwise required on the UCAS form.
Another important determinant of whether an offer is to be made is the amount of competition for admission to that course. The more competitive the course, the less likely an offer will be made and, therefore, the stronger the application must be. Applicants for medicine are often expected to have undertaken extensive work experience in a relevant field in order to show their commitment to the course. For the most competitive courses, less than 10% of applications may result in admission, whereas at the less competitive universities, practically all applicants may receive an offer of admission.
Ultimately, however, no matter how many extra-curricular activities and work experience have been undertaken, if the admissions tutor does not believe, based on the submitted exam results, the candidate is academically capable of completing the course, he or she will not be admitted.
A well qualified candidate applying under UCAS for five competitive courses to each of which only 10% of well qualified candidates could be accepted would have only a 40% chance of receiving at least one offer of acceptance. Alternatively, if five less competitive courses each having a 33% acceptance rate are chosen, the chance of receiving at least one offer is more than 85%. This implies that a strategy for improving the chance of receiving at least one offer, to perhaps 70%, is indicated even to well qualified candidates.
Postgraduate entry 
All applications are made directly to the university or college, with no limit on the number of courses that can be applied for.
United States 
In the United States of America, high school students apply to four-year liberal arts colleges and universities, which include both undergraduate or graduate students. Others attend community colleges, who almost always admit all students with high school diplomas, in preparation for transfer to a four year university. Non-traditional students are usually students over the age of 22 who pursue studies in higher education. Students may apply to many institutions using the Common Application. There is no limit to the number of colleges or universities to which a student may apply, though an application must be submitted for each. Fees are generally charged for each admissions application, but can be waived based on financial need.
Students apply to one or more colleges or universities by submitting an application which each college evaluates using its own criteria. The college then decides whether or not to extend an offer of admission (and possibly financial aid) to the student. The majority of colleges admit students to the college as a whole, and not to a particular academic major, although this may not be the case in some specialized programs such as engineering and architecture. The system is decentralized: each college has its own criteria for admission, even when using a common application form (the most widely used is The Common Application).
Common criteria includes ACT or SAT scores, extracurricular activities, Grade Point Average, demonstrated integrity, and a general college admissions essay. Further criteria, used to varying degrees, include athletic ability, legacy preferences (family members having attended the school), race, ability to pay full tuition, potential to donate money to the school (development case), desired class composition (esp. diversity, which includes racial diversity, geographical and national diversity, and diversity of interests in the class), perceived fit, subjective evaluation of student character (based on essays or interviews), and general discretion by the admissions office. Importance of various factors varies between universities, and selectiveness varies significantly – measured by admissions rate (which depends both on selectiveness and number and type of applicants), it varies from 100% (school which accept all comers) to below 10%.
See also 
- Admissions essay
- College admissions in the United States
- College application
- Educational consultant
- Need-blind admission
- Open admissions
- Open-door academic policy
- Statement of purpose
- Transfer admissions in the United States
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- College Board The organization that administers the SAT and AP exams; much useful information on college admissions plus a searchable database of colleges and universities
- College Insider Free college planning advice from the New Hampshire Center for College Planning.
- Go-College Information in English and Hindi on college admissions.
- College Opportunities Online Searchable college database maintained by the U.S. Department of Education
- The Common Application- Application form accepted by over 300 colleges and universities in the United States. Free to use, can submit applications online.
- College Admissions College Admissions: Who Wins and Who Loses? a video produced by the Massachusetts School of Law
- American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) Professional association for college and university admissions practitioners.
- Universities Admissions Centre (UAC) UAC processes applications for undergraduate degree, diploma, postgraduate courses and Equity Scholarships at participating Australian institutions.