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Application process for UK Universities

Unlike applying for a first degree, there is no central admissions system for postgraduate courses in the UK. You will have to apply directly to the educational institution concerned and each one will have a slightly different application procedure. There is however a generic form that is accepted by most institutions, which you can get at your local British Council office.

It is important to allow yourself lots of time when applying for a course. Institutions will have lots of applications to process and it will take a while before they can give you an answer. You should be aiming at the following deadlines, although these are only suggestions.

  • 24-18 months before start of course - start researching courses and institutions.
  • 18-12 months before - preliminary plans and shortlist of courses.
  • 12-6 months before - send out course, funding and, if necessary, visa applications.
  • Last 6 months before - continue applying for courses and begin attending any required interviews.
Some institutions have closing dates for applications and you should make sure that you get your application to them well before this date. To speed things up some institutions now accept applications over the Internet and you can also apply through some British Council offices.

Application procedure
What goes into an application varies from institution to institution. Some only require a letter while others will want a complete academic history and research plan. What is most usual is to fill out one of their application forms where you will be expected to highlight your academic record and possibly mention your proposed research interests.

You can make sure that your qualifications meet the course requirements by contacting the National Academic Recognition Information Centre for their UK equivalents. Do not put the equivalents on the form as the institution admissions officer will do that. Do provide an English translation though. If English isn't your first language, you may be asked to supply proof of your English language competence. This is usually done by taking an English language test, such as IELTS(International English Language Testing System). Work experience is valuable when applying for a postgraduate course so give full employment details along with the skills and training that you may have developed on the job. Your personal statement is one of the most important parts of the application form and you should think about it very carefully. Mention your motivations for the course, experience and interests but be specific and honest

You will also have to state where your funding is going to come from, although at this stage it won't be necessary to be definite, and to provide academic references from someone who has previously taught you. Some of the more popular institutions will want you to have an interview before they make a decision and this will give you the opportunity to see the department and to meet with the tutors and students. Interviews will usually involve one or more of the course tutors and they will want to know, amongst other things, why you have chosen their course and what your goals are. Try and think about possible questions that you might be asked beforehand so that you are well prepared. You should also think of some questions you could ask the tutors as well. These might include course or research requirements, whether you are eligible for financial support and the research interests of the academic staff (investigate prior to the interview to give a good impression).

Application Forms
Send inquiries at least 12 months before the proposed date of admission. There are three ways to get application forms.
  1. Requesting Application Forms: You can request application forms from the universities website. Most universities have a form on their website which can be completed online to request application material.
  2. Agents/Representatives: You can contact agents and representatives of the business school you are interested in. Most of the universities have representatives in many countries. These agents will give you the application forms and will guide you in the application process as well.
  3. Downloading from the university website: Many universities have a download-able and ready to print version of their application form on the net. These can be used for applying just as regular forms.
Academic Record - Transcripts & Mark sheets:
Full details of your education including your course subjects and grades are required in the applications. Transcripts or official records of your previous academic qualifications are crucial for your application. Students applying for admission are required to submit an official transcript from each college or university that they have attended after secondary school with complete details of the subjects, credits involved and other details like correspondence courses, diplomas etc. Most universities ask for the transcript to be sealed in an envelope and signed and attested across the seal by the registrar. This procedure is to be done for each and every college that you have attended. Some universities may ask for more than one transcript but most require only one.

Academic documents required include:
  • Class X / 'A' Levels / Secondary School Mark sheets & Certificate
  • Class XII / 'O' Levels / High School Mark sheets & Certificate
  • Bachelor Degree Transcripts & Degree Certificate
  • Transcripts & Certificates of any other programs that you may have attended.
If the originals are not in English, copies and a good English translation must be enclosed. If your undergraduate qualification or university is unknown to the admissions tutor, the British Council would be able to advice.

Standardized Tests Score Reports
IELTS: For most courses and universities, International students are required to take IELTS (International English Language Test) which is regularly administered by the British Council. Some universities may accept
TOEFL as an alternative. You need to send your IELTS or TOEFL score report with your application package. Some Universities may waive IELTS if you have been studying in English medium throughout and they are convinced that you are proficient in English. GMAT: For most management courses, International students are required to take GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test). You need to send your GMAT score report with your application package.

Letter of Recommendation
Letters of reference or recommendation letters play a very important part in your admission to a good program. A recommendation letter is a signed statement from a person who knows you well professionally or has taught you in a subject that is related to the course you are applying to. It should list your positive and negative qualities, strengths and other such information. The author or teacher must indicate his position, how long he/she has known the applicant and in what capacity. He/she should briefly discuss the need, importance and usefulness of the study the applicant proposes to undertake. Authors are usually asked to rank applicants in their letters of recommendation, which helps admission officers to interpret the academic credentials of foreign students. Students should obtain letters of recommendation (often on the prescribed forms sent by the institutions) from teachers who know them as a person as well as a student. You may like to request your author to give concrete examples that may show your qualities and help your case. Many universities have their own format and questions that have to be answered by the person who is giving the letter of recommendation on your behalf. Letters, which do not give enough information, can jeopardize a candidate’s chances of selection.

Application Essays / Statement of Purpose
The personal application essays, and/or statement of purpose, also play a very important role in the process of evaluating your application. It gives the admission committee assessing your application their most significant impression of you as an individual. A personal statement should include reasons for choosing this particular course, your area of interest, the suitability of your education and experiential background for this course and your personal and present future goals.
Published date : 23 Apr 2010 05:09PM

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