Should you apply for more than one course at the same university?
The quick answer to this is it depends on the course you want to study. Here’s why multi-applications will and won’t work in your favour.
You might assume that applying more than once to a university shows that you’re keen on going there. But that tactic won’t necessarily improve your chances of getting a place. Some advice from the University of Surrey provides a good starting point: ‘We would prefer students to be focused and committed to one course.’
It’s fine in some situations
Most universities will be happy with you applying to more than one course in certain situations, but it's your personal statement that will probably be the key. Think about it - can you write a personal statement that will work for each of your chosen courses?
If it’s a struggle to cater your personal statement to your two chosen subjects, then alarm bells should be ringing.
Bournemouth University says if you’re not sure whether to put more than one course down from the same university, it’s a ‘great question to ask at open days’. In their view, applicants who want to combine their love for sport with a career, for example, but are not quite sure what direction within sport to go down, would be justified in applying for more than one course.
It can be a wasted choice
On the other hand, it’s not always necessary to use up two of your choices if the courses are just a variant of the same course, such as a BEng or MEng in a specific branch of engineering. Other universities tend to agree:
Applying for different courses that each require a very specific commitment to one vocation – such as midwifery and physiotherapy, which both attract NHS funding – is a bad idea. It will be very clear to admissions tutors that you're not totally committed to either field. In that case, it’s better to go back to the drawing board and research which one it is you’re most interested in.
Don't make assumptions!
In the case of medicine, dentistry or veterinary science, for which you can use only four of your five Ucas choices, using your fifth Ucas choice for an alternative subject (like biomedical sciences) is often a good back-up tactic.
Some universities positively encourage you to do this; but others are less keen. The best advice is to do your research in advance - don't make assumptions.
In other cases, you may be applying to a university course where all applicants who meet their entry requirements are offered a place. In this situation, your personal statement may only get a cursory glance and applying for different courses at the same uni therefore might not be a problem. This might be especially appropriate to you if your choice of uni is restricted by where you live. Do contact universities directly to explain your situation.
If in doubt, ask at an open day
As we’ve already mentioned, open days are a great opportunity to find out what different courses will actually be like – ask about which modules you’ll take and how flexible these are, how many hours a week you’ll be in lectures or tutorials and how the course is assessed. You’ll hopefully come away with a clearer idea of which course you really want to do.
At the end of the day, it usually comes down to your own individual circumstances. So if you are still finding it hard to decide between two different courses, don't be afraid to seek advice from the uni itself and ask them straight - is it ok to apply for both?