Headlines: June 24th, 2004

All applicants to university and college courses will be able to apply on line within two years. The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service is unveiling plans today to extend its electronic services to all applicants by entry for 2006 courses.The move means that as well as carrying out their research into courses via the internet, all potential university and college undergraduates will be able to submit their applications, monitor their progress and accept or decline offers on-line. UCAS says the process is faster and easier than the paper-based system and will enable applicants to apply from anywhere in the world as long as they have access to an Internet-ready computer.

The UCAS Board gave its unanimous support to moving towards a fully electronic system as quickly as possible. UCAS will now work with libraries, Internet centres, schools and colleges to make sure that everyone who wants to apply has access to Internet services. The number of students using the electronic application services has been rising rapidly and the UCAS says it is already well ahead of most public services. Latest figures for entry to colleges and universities in 2004 indicate that more than half of UCAS applicants have chosen to apply electronically – a 200 per cent increase over the last year.

Anthony McClaran, UCAS Chief Executive, says, “The great increase in Internet access in schools in recent years makes on-line application possible for many more applicants than in the past. The paper form is now reaching its limit. However, if we are to achieve a fully electronic system we must provide maximum access and support for potential applicants”.

Up to now, only applicants who are registered with a school or college could use the electronic systems but from September this year UCAS will be offering a version of the application product specifically designed for people not attending an educational institution, such as mature students. UCAS says it is aware that getting everyone on-line will bring its challenges and it is gearing up its systems to ensure that its servers will be able to handle more than 450,000 electronic applications.