UCAS and Personal Statements

Writing a UCAS application can be daunting for some students, as the application may be very different from anything they have done before. A personal statement gives students the chance to advertise themselves to admissions tutors and demonstrate why they deserve a place on their chosen course. With this in mind, we have created a range of useful resources to help guide students through the application process.

We appreciate it can be difficult for students to understand the different deadlines associated with their university application. To help simplify this, we have created a timeline to identify the key dates and deadlines that students should be aware of. 

Please note this timeline mentions the UCAS deadline as 15 January, this has now been extended to 29 January by UCAS.

Download our UCAS timeline

UCAS tariff points translate students' qualifications and grades into a numerical value. Many universities, including Derby, refer to tariff points on our course entry requirements; this identifies how many tariff points we require for students to be accepted onto the course. 

The easiest way for students to check what tariff points they may receive through their qualification is on the UCAS tariff points calculator

If your students would like to find out what tariff points our courses ask for, they can do so on our course search. On each course page we include how many tariff points we are looking for, plus any additional entry requirements such as specific Level 3 subjects or an interview or audition. 

The presentation below, delivered by Alex from the Schools and Colleges Liaison team, covers what students should expect through the UCAS application process and provides hints and tips for writing a quality personal statement and how to stand out from the crowd.

To get a copy of the presentation, please email us.

Writing a personal statement can be the most difficult part of a UCAS application for some students, so we have created a number of tools to help them write a strong statement. 

We have an online personal statement builder, which can help your students at the start of the process to identify the topics they should be including. The builder prompts students about the experience and examples they should be looking to discuss, and has practical hints and tips for each section of their personal statement.  

We also have a top tips resource which includes key advice for a successful personal statement, plus guidance from one of our graduates, Anisha, about how to structure a strong piece.   

Download our Personal Statement Top Tips

Download advice from our graduate, Anisha


Your personal statement is your chance to really shine and make your application stand out. Our Assistant Registrar, Gurjit Nijjar shares her tips on how to nail it.

Watch Gurjit Nijjars top tips on how to nail the personal statement video.

Your students can chat with our ambassadors about life as a student, and ask about their experiences of writing a UCAS application and personal statement. We have current students from a range of different courses and backgrounds, who can also answer general queries about our courses, accommodation and city. 

Chat to our student ambassadors now

Whether you are new to writing UCAS references or write hundreds every year, this guide will help you perfect the art of writing university references for your students. 

Read our UCAS reference blog

Make a start

The hardest part of the UCAS application can be making a start. Students can begin their application on the UCAS website ahead of the cycle open date in September, and can start planning their personal statement well in advance.

Personal statement advice

The video below, created by UCAS, gives excellent advice to students on where to begin with their personal statements. This includes advice on what skills and qualities to include, support on how to structure a statement and advice on what to avoid. 

Watch this video and find out everything you need to know to write your UCAS personal statement.

Proof read

We all make silly mistakes when we're writing, so make sure every student reads their application out loud a few times to help spot any mistakes.

A fresh pair of eyes also really helps. In addition to reading their application themselves, encourage students to have a friend or family member also read over it to help spot errors.

Remember, in a personal statement students only have 4000 characters or 47 lines in which to sell themselves to the admissions tutor. So encourage them to make the most of their characters and avoid repeating things that have already said in their UCAS application. This includes things such as qualifications studied or the school or college they attend.

Make sure students also write their personal statement on a separate word document and save it as they go to avoid loosing all their hard work.

Choosing a firm and insurance choice

When students receive decisions their chosen universities, they'll receive one of three possible outcomes:

Conditional offer - means that they have been offered a place on the course, but that this is subject to them meeting the requirements of the offer - usually exam results (eg They still need to achieve A levels grade AAB with A in chemistry or they still need to achieve 112 UCAS Tariff points including BTEC National Diploma grade DM).

Unconditional offer - These mean the student has already met the entry requirements, so the place is available if they want it! But remember that by choosing this option your student is committing to attending this university, so they won't be able to make an insurance choice too.

Unsuccessful - means that unfortunately they have not been made an offer to study at that university.

Results Day

On results day, students will receive a decision from their chosen universities as to whether or not they have been accepted to study there.  

If students have not met the conditions on their firm choice, the university may choose one of three options:

1. Offer the same course, but with a foundation year. This is an extra year that bridges the gap between college and university level study

2. Offer a place on an alternative course

3. Decline their offer


On UCAS Track, students may see a notification that states: You are in Clearing. Your Clearing number is [Clearing number].

This means that they are not currently holding any offers at a university. This is usually because they have not met the conditions of their offers.

Don't worry if your students receive this notification on UCAS, as they may still be able to choose a course at another university through the Clearing service. They can use the UCAS course search tool to search for all the universities that still have Clearing spaces available. If they find a course and university that they like, they can contact the university to discuss their options. Universities may be able to make the student an offer over the phone, or invite them to an interview. If they are made an offer over the phone, they can accept this by adding a Clearing choice in Track.

It's a really big decision to consider a completely different university in such a small space of time, so we encourage students to attend a Clearing open day at the university they want to apply to, so they are sure it's the best choice for them.