First of all, let’s unpick what UCAS does. UCAS stands for Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. It’s the centralised service that students use to apply to university. Basically, pretty much everyone who wants to study an undergraduate degree in the UK will have to apply through UCAS. They have a thorough and genial monopoly over the university application systems in the UK.
If anything, UCAS is the higher education cupid. Think of UCAS as an online dating service: through it you can select and apply to universities, the universities take your proposal and decide whether or not to offer you a place. It’s all about helping students find the right university and helping universities find the right students.
Students use UCAS’s online services, namely its ‘Apply’ function, to put together and send off their university applications. It’s pretty much all done online, so you don’t have to flap around with bits of paper. Essentially, they are there to make sure your application to university runs smoothly.
There’s currently a bit of a debate surrounding the fairness and transparency of the UCAS admissions system, something which UCAS is aiming to address in the near future. But at the moment, it’s the only way, as a prospective undergraduate, to apply to the vast majority of universities in the UK.