Category Archives: Study advice

Working on your UCAS application? here’s our handy guide:

Applying to university or college isn’t as complicated as it sounds, so whether you are just starting your UCAS application, or you’re already working on it, we hope this handy guide will help navigate your way through.

A low angle view of a female couple sitting in their living room together while working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. One woman is using a laptop on the floor while the other is using a digital tablet on the sofa and looking at her fiancée on the floor. Their dog is sitting on the sofa with his head on the shoulder of the woman on the floor.

Starting your application:

All students applying for an undergraduate course must make a formal application through UCAS which stands for the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. The UCAS website has loads of helpful information when you are considering applying as an undergraduate student.

All applications must be completed online via UCAS Hub, you need to pay UCAS £22.00 if you are applying for one choice, or £26.50 for two to five choices using a debit or credit card.

Young man sitting on a sofa in a living room setting with a laptop and wearing headphones.

What makes up an application?

  • Course choices (you can choose up to five)
  • Qualifications (you must enter all your qualifications from secondary education onwards)
  • Employment history (if you’ve had any paid, unpaid, or voluntary work)
  • Personal statement
  • Reference
Profile shot of a teenage girl lying on her bed on her stomach looking at her computer. She is about to press the keyboard, and has her other hand up by her face. She is in deep concentration on what she is working on.

Course choices:

You can apply for up to five course choices (with a few exceptions). There is no preference order, and your chosen universities and colleges will not see where you have applied until after you have responded to any offers made to you. UCAS will let you know how to accept or decline an offer of a place via the UCAS Hub.

For more information about completing your UCAS application head over to the UCAS website for a step-by-step guide.

Personal statement:

Writing your personal statement is an important part of the process when applying to university or college through UCAS. This is your opportunity to show your interest in the course, describe your future ambitions, skill sets, and experience which will set you apart from other applicants.

Watch our recent live Q&A session with our resident expert Kathleen Moran who regularly delivers training sessions to schools and colleges:

You can also check out this handy video from UCAS on how to plan, start, structure and finish your personal statement.

What happens after you have applied?

You will receive a welcome email from UCAS confirming your choices. The universities and colleges you have applied to will then decide whether to make you an offer. Some may ask you to come for an interview before taking that decision. Please check our key dates below.

The decision:

When you receive a decision from the universities or colleges you applied to, you’ll receive one of the following:

  • Unconditional offer: means you’ve got a place, although there might still be a few things to arrange.
  • Conditional offer: means you still need to meet some conditions– usually exam results.
  • Withdrawn application: means a course choice has been withdrawn by either you or the university or college. If the university or college has withdrawn your application, they’ll let you know their reason.
  • Unsuccessful application: means a university or college have decided not to offer you a place on a course. Sometimes they’ll give a reason, either with their decision or at a later date. If not, you can contact them to ask if they’ll discuss the reason with you

Don’t worry if you don’t get any offers – you might be able to add extra choices now or look for course availability later on.

Key dates:

  • 26 January 2022: Applications for the majority of UCAS Undergraduate courses should be submitted to UCAS by 6.00pm on this date. This is the ‘equal consideration’ deadline, which means universities and colleges must consider all applications received by this time equally. It is important to remember that once you have submitted your application that you might not receive an offer straight away so it’s best not to worry or panic if you hear of other applicants receiving theirs.
  • 25 February 2022: UCAS Extra opens
  • 19 May 2022: Universities and colleges decisions due on applications submitted by 26 January 2022.
  • 9 June 2022: Decision deadline for applicants who have received all decisions by 19 May 2022.
  • 30 June 2022: The deadline for late applications. Any applications after this date will automatically be entered into Clearing.
  • 5 July 2022: Clearing opens for eligible applicants.
  • 13 July 2022: Universities and colleges decisions due on late applications.
  • 14 July 2022: Decision deadline for late applicants who have received all decisions from universities and colleges.
  • 9 August 2022: Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) results day
  • 18 August 2022: Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) results day

Useful links:

Top tips for preventing digital eye strain

With many of us spending more time than ever at our computer screens, Alison Macpherson, Head of Optometry, highlights the issue of digital eyestrain and how to avoid it.

2nd year BSc (Hons) Optometry students undertaking clinical skills at the Centre for Health Science.

When the clocks go back at the start of winter, optometry practitioners often see an increase in patients reporting difficulty with reading small print in the darker nights.

We often forget that the human eye is a finely tuned instrument which works best in natural daylight conditions, so reading outside on a bright summer’s day (with protection from UV rays of course) is a very different visual task to sitting in front of the fire on a cold winter’s evening reading the latest release from a favourite author. Similarly, the use of digital technology as a means of communication can have an impact on our visual system.

2nd year BSc (Hons) Optometry students during clinical skills.

The COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to cause challenges to our daily lives. Many of us are still working remotely from our kitchen tables or spare rooms and the format of our working day is considerably different from how it was before lockdown.

Our day to day lives have become dominated by technology. Our working days can consist of virtual meetings requiring long spells in front of a screen and, even away from work, our social interactions are now also facilitated via Zoom, Facetime or other virtual means. This means that large portions of our lives currently centre around display screen equipment.

BSc (Hons) Optometry students practising corneal examination using a slit lamp.

Using a screen or computer can be visually demanding and may cause symptoms which are not apparent when you carry out other work. Asthenopia (eyestrain) associated with screen use can manifest with a variety of symptoms including eye fatigue, discomfort, blurred vision, pain or generally sore eyes. Visually related symptoms can also be caused by factors such as ergonomics.

How to help these symptoms

  • Take regular breaks
  • Look away from your screen periodically and allow your eyes to refocus on an object at a different distance. A good technique is to use the 20-20-20 rule by focussing on an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds, every 20 minutes.
  • Adjust the settings on your screen including brightness, contrast and font size so it’s easier to see
  • Consider the distance you are sitting away from the screen – arm’s length is optimal for most people.
  • Regular eye examinations with an optometrist can help to identify any underlying causes that may be contributing to symptoms.
  • Optometrist, Nicola McElvanney, from Optometry Scotland, also recommends switching off screens at least half an hour before you go to bed, as this may upset the Circadian rhythms that help to control sleep patterns.

Interested in a career in optometry? Find out more about our BSc (Hons) Optometry degree and set your course for the future: www.uhi.ac.uk/optometry

Is Clearing for me?

Still considering your study options for September 2020? Clearing could be open to you…read on to find out more.

What is Clearing?

Clearing is a service where universities and colleges (like us) fill any places they still have on their courses for the next academic year.

From July 2020, you can apply for a course using Clearing if you’re not already holding an offer from a university or college, and the course still has places.

Do I need to use the Clearing system?

The Clearing system is your route to find a suitable course at university or college if:

  • you are not holding any offers from universities or colleges you have applied to
  • you didn’t meet the conditions of your offer
  • you are applying after 30 June. While Clearing is usually associated with school leavers looking for a place after exam results, from the end of June, it is the pathway into university for everyone including mature and late applicants.

Clearing is not necessary if you have used the UCAS application system to apply before the 30 June; have been made an active offer from a university or college and have met the conditions made in the offer and you wish to accept it. Remember to check the acceptance process to make sure that your place is secured.

Want more information? Speak to one of our dedicated Course Information Line team on 01463 279190 or message us.

UCAS also offer a Clearing advice line to candidates: 0371 368 0468 (UK callers) or +44 330 333 0230 (if you are calling from outside the UK).

How do I find out which courses have places available?

Whether you know exactly what you’d like to do or you’re still unsure, there is help available to support you to find the right course.

Do some research. Find courses that interest you.

You can:

  • use the UCAS search tool to find live vacancies
  • view our courses at the University of the Highland and Islands
  • talk to universities and colleges directly to find out if they have places and if they will make you an offer
  • find out about open days. Come and see us
  • ask for help and information about which of our courses are available and what qualifications are needed for entry. Contact our dedicated Course Information Line Team on 01463 279190 or send us a message
  • read more about Clearing on our ‘What is Clearing’ guide.

More info about us:

The University of the Highlands and Islands, the only university within our region with our partnership of colleges and research institutions, want to let you know WE’RE HERE FOR YOU and we are ready to help you find your own unique learner journey.

We continue to offer a full range of courses for school leavers right through to adult learners, whatever your entry point. You can start where you need to and pause or exit with a qualification when the time is right for you.

By putting you in control of your journey and enabling you to study from wherever you are, you can fit learning around other interests and commitments. Whether you can join us on campus, online or a combination of both, you won’t feel alone as our staff will support you every step of the way.

Our students are at the heart of all we do. Our blended learning approach has connected our student community here and across the world for over 20 years, and we can connect you to fellow students, lecturers, and support services through our:

  • video conferencing and online technologies
  • face-to-face teaching and support (when and where it is safe to do so)

Visit our website for more information.