Your journey to university

Leaving school may seem like a long way off, but it is never too early to start thinking about your academic future, as the decisions you make now may impact your options later down the line.

To help you make your way to higher education and support your decision-making, we've put together a timeline of key dates and periods starting with deciding your GCSEs, right until the start of university study.


Pre-16 refers to the years between Year 8 and Year 11. During this time you will make a wide range of choices that will set the foundation for your future academic career.

Year 8-9

In either Year 8 or Year 9, you will choose what subjects you want to study at GCSE. If you need help deciding your GCSE options, take a look at this webpage for some guidance.

Year 10-11

Preparing for your GCSEs

Preparing for your GCSEs can be difficult. GCSEs are really important as they can impact what you go on to study.

Visit the BBC Bitesize website for subject-specific revision and study tools to support your learning.


Opportunities to visit universities

Look out for opportunities offered by your school to visit universities and find out more about higher education. You can learn about university and student life on summer school programmes.


Build skills and work experience

Start building the skills you’ll need when you finish school. Having some work experience, a part-time job or building up your extracurricular activities will help you in the future.

When looking at work experience, try looking for some in the field that you would like to study in as this will help with writing personal statements.

Research your study options

During your final years in secondary, start researching your options for post-16. If you choose to study A levels or equivalents, you will need to decide what subjects you would like to study.

If you are interested in higher education, it would be wise to choose subjects that relate to the field you would like to study at university.

The Uni Guide has a range of resources to help you with your research.


Sitting your GCSEs

In Year 11, you will be taking or have completed your GCSEs and enjoy your time before moving onto Year 12 and 13.

Spend your summer celebrating your achievements, but also researching your future options and gaining more skills and experience!


Post-16 refers to Year 12 and Year 13. During this time, there will be a range of opportunities for you to look into higher education and see if it's the right fit for you.

Pathways to Birmingham is a suite of Year 12 and Year 13 programmes that offer eligible students a taste of university life and support them with transitioning to higher education.

Year 12

Starting your studies

Now its time to focus on your A level or equivalent qualifications to ensure you have a positive start to your studies.

In September, applications for Routes to the Professions open, which includes subject tasters, university application support, and career sessions among other activities.



For support with revision and preparation for university, have a look at our study skills resource Skills4Uni. The modules cover many topics including essay writing and learning to research.


Attend a UCAS exhibition

From February to June, you will be able to visit UCAS exhibitions for a chance to compare universities, and courses and to ask any questions you have about further study or your options.


Gaining work experience

We recommend undertaking work experience to support your university applications that may have this as a requirement for certain courses. The University of Birmingham intranet has a range of resources in helping to find work experience.


Order a prospectus

Another great way to get information about universities and their courses is to order or download their prospectus. 


Visit us at an Open Day

University of Birmingham pre-application open days start in June of Year 12 and run until November of Year 13. You can also watch our video campus tour below.


  • Campus - Old Joe viewed from the green heart

    Take a campus tour

    We know it is important to get a chance to visit your future university, so there are many opportunities to come visit us.

    You will have the opportunity to look around, speak to current students and staff about the courses that you're interested in, and get an idea of what life on campus could look like for you.

    Undergraduate campus tours

Year 13

Continuing your studies

Only one more year left of school/college education so make sure to focus on your studies and planning for the future.

UCAS opens for applications in September of Year 13. You can apply for five courses at this time.


Access to Birmingham (A2B)

Access to Birmingham applications open in September. To qualify, students must be applying to study a full-time undergraduate course at Birmingham and meet the Pathways to Birmingham eligibility criteria.

This is for students at eligible state schools in the West Midlands.


Contextual Offer

If you don't apply to us via Pathways to Birmingham, have a look at our contextual offer scheme instead. 

Find out if you are eligible below.


UCAS applications

Universities will start making offers of places. You will be able to monitor your application through your UCAS Hub and you will be notified when you receive offers from the universities.

October 16 - Deadline for UCAS applications for Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary courses or to study at Oxford or Cambridge.


Types of offer

Following your UCAS applications, you will start receiving offers from universities. 

There are four types of offer you could be given, including:

  • Conditional: subject to you meeting the entry requirements.
  • Unconditional: because you already meet the conditions of the offer, or you are highly desirable to the university.
  • Withdrawn: a choice has been withdrawn by you or the university.
  • Unsuccessful: the University has decided not to offer you a place.

To find out more details about types of offers, visit the UCAS website.

Course specific application processes

Some courses will require applicants to take part in an interview or an audition to consider them for a place.

You may also be asked to provide a portfolio or examples of your work for art or design courses.

Offer Holder visit days

If the university makes you an offer to study, you may be invited to an offer holder visit day which typically run from October to April.

On offer holder visit days, you will get the opportunity to meet staff and students as well as tour the facilities.


UCAS deadline

The UCAS deadline for applications will be the 31st January, to be guaranteed for equal consideration.

Access to Birmingham applications close soon as well, so make sure you submit yours as soon as possible.

Student Finance

In February applications for student finance will be open until May.

Don't wait until you receive offers from your universities to apply for tuition fees and maintenance loans. Apply early!

Make your final UCAS choices

Once you've heard back from your universities, you'll have to make your final two choices on UCAS. Deadlines for this decision depend on when you received your offers.

Apply for accommodation

In late May applications for student accommodation will close.

You must apply by this date to be guaranteed a place at University of Birmingham accommodation (either Birmingham owned or partner accommodation).


Results and confirmation and clearing

In August, the results are released for A levels and some equivalent qualifications will be released and you will know if you got into university.

Some qualifications release their results earlier than this, e.g. International Baccalaureate (IB).

Depending on your results, you may decide to go into Clearing to find a place on an alternative course.


  • Students at welcome week outside Aston Web with banners

    Congratulations, you made it!

    Your university experience begins! You’ll move into your accommodation and will have the opportunity to take part in Welcome Week. This will include a suite of events and activities designed to help you settle in, meet other students, and explore our clubs and societies. Your College, School or Department will also offer a programme of induction events and activities to give you details specific to your area of study and allow you to meet the relevant staff as well as other students in your study area.