Higher Options career talks: Ucas & studying in the UK

Students from the Republic pay the same domestic fees as those in UK and Northern Ireland

For Irish students willing to enrol into UK universities, course browsing and applications can be done through the UK equivalent of CAO known as Ucas (ucas.com).

Up to five course choices can be made, and the deadline for applications is generally the last Wednesday of January.

Along with personal details and results, a very important part of the UCAS application is the personal statement.

This is a 4,000-character formal piece of writing on why you would like to be considered for that specific course. An academic reference is required too.


‘Put yourself in your statement’

Samantha Sykes of UCAS explains how important it is that students really put themselves into the personal statement without trying to plagiarise or get help from other sources. UCAS uses plagiarism detection tools and can easily flag non-genuine statements.

“It should communicate who you are, what drove your interest and enthusiasm into the course and why you would be a suitable candidate,” she says.

“But you should also show something ‘beyond curriculum’, what interests you in life beyond your achievements.”


Sykes says most universities share what they are looking for in personal statements, and a good amount of research needs to be done on this and on the courses themselves to understand what they expect from prospective students.

She recommends reaching out to UCAS customer service and social media for assistance and to attend their online seminaries and live sessions on the process.

Oxford and Cambridge

An additional process needs to be followed for Oxford and Cambridge, which usually set a separate and earlier UCAS deadline too.

When considering these universities, it’s better to get informed in advance as most of their courses require additional assessments and interviews to get in.


Students from the Republic of Ireland get to pay domestic fees in the UK and Northern Ireland.

There are also great funding opportunities for some medical and paramedical disciplines courses which are extended to students from the Republic.

Jonathan Holland from Ulster University says all-island students can be granted free tuition and a bursary during the training period.

Video recorded in 2021

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