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Update on the UCAS reform of the undergraduate admissions process

This week on the HELOA blog, we are joined by Jen Barton, HELOA Partnerships Manager (Membership Engagement) for an update on the UCAS reform of the undergraduate admissions process.

“As we are well into the new academic year and travelling thousands of miles meeting prospective students, we thought it would be useful to give another update about where we are with the UCAS reform.


As I am sure you will be aware, references have now been reformed and teachers are now using the new structured approach where they can complete three distinct sections, rather than the free text approach. You can find out more at https://www.ucas.com/advisers/help-and-training/guides-resources-and-training/writing-references/changes-undergraduate-references-2024-entry.

You can also watch the recording from the advisers live session which took place in May, to help you understand the changes Adviser Live – Reference guidance for 2024 undergraduate entry – 11 May 2023 (brightcove.net). Please do share this with colleagues and teacher contacts who might find it helpful. Further resources can also be found at Adviser lives | Undergraduate | UCAS

UCAS will be evaluating the new approach, but so far there have been some positive anecdotal comments about the new process. They also hope to build a bank of examples. If any of your colleagues in Admissions have any examples of references that they think were most helpful, please ask them if they would be willing to share these with UCAS. They won’t be used as an example, but UCAS will write an example based around those submitted.


Personal Statements:

Personal statements are not disappearing, they are being reformed. The reformed personal statement is likely to be introduced in 2025, for 2026 entry. This will impact anyone who applies from September 2025, meaning that we will probably need to start talking to Year 12 students about this from Autumn 2024. It is hoped that by framing the personal statement as a series of free text questions that it creates a more supportive framework that helps to guide students through their responses to enable them to use their own voice to advocate for their chosen course and showcase their potential.

Through consultation with providers and advisers, three themes have been identified for inclusion:

  • Motivation for course: Why do you want to study this course?
  • Preparedness for course: How has your learning so far helped you to be ready to succeed on these courses?
  • Preparedness through other experiences: What else have you done to help you prepare, and why are these experiences useful?

Work is now underway to decide on the wording to ensure it can be universally understood by the range of applicants who apply via UCAS.

As yet, there has been no decision on word count. UCAS are very carefully considering this to ensure that it is not limiting, but that it remains concise.

More in-depth information can be found at https://www.ucas.com/about-us/news-and-insights/reforming-admissions#more-on-the-personal-statement

If you have any questions or comments, please feed these back to your HELOA UCAS Product Development Representative. We have four meetings per year with UCAS, focussing on UCAS products. Your representative can take these to our meetings.  Next year’s dates are: 13th February, 14th May, 16th July 2024, with one more to be confirmed.”

-Jen Barton, HELOA Partnerships Manager (Membership Engagement)

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