I am currently a SOAS ICC student looking to pursue a Business Management degree at a UK university. With the seasonal break coming up it also means the UCAS undergraduate admissions deadline is almost here too, 15 January 2021. It is not an exaggeration to say that the UCAS application is one of the primary reasons for me attending the ICC Foundation programme, SOAS ICC is also well aware of this and manages to provide substantial support to students. Here is my personal experience of the UCAS guidance offered.
In the introductory week, there were two specific UCAS sessions held. The head of the UCAS team at SOAS, Jeshmeen, gave a presentation about the overall application process, and students were advised to sign up to the UCAS Hub. This is where you can find personalised information and attend live events. We were also asked to have a rough idea of our desired subject areas we were looking to apply to, to discuss during a 1-to-1 session that was held at the beginning of the semester.
I would describe the 1-to-1 session as a short but helpful time; it was 15 minutes long and I was able to make full use of the time. In the first meeting, I was able to ask Jeshmeen general questions regarding the application process. By that time, I was working on my Personal Statement (PS) and in need of advice to make it flow better. She emphasised that the PS had to have a story that shows my enthusiasm for the course I would like to study: the most challenging part for the majority of students. Fortunately, after listening to my interests and experiences, Jeshmeen suggested a brief outline for my PS which helped a lot! Thanks to this session, I was able to feel more confident with my writing.
UCAS academic advisers
There were several more meetings afterward the initial 1-to-1, all with our personal UCAS academic adviser. For SOAS ICC students, through the course we are allocated a UCAS tutor – the UCAS academic adviser – so that we can get more focused assistance towards the application process. So far, I have had two group meetings and an individual session with my personal UCAS tutor. The 1-to-1 meeting was there to check my progress of the application and see if I needed any assistance.
I think it is good to have an allocated UCAS tutors because they are always there to assist me. Moreover, students can send their personal statement drafts to their UCAS tutors for feedback. The PS is arguably one of the most significant aspects universities consider when selecting their students, therefore it is crucial to have good content, not to mention a high standard of English and the ICC programme provides strong support in this area.
The UCAS system might not be familiar to students who did not receive an education in the UK. However, I do not think that it should be a huge concern, as you can always utilise the SOAS UCAS support system, which is in place, as well as doing your own research.
Hyunyong Cho is a SOAS student and is currently studying on the International Foundation Programme (ICC).