Writing UCAS References

All UCAS applications require a reference, normally provided by a teacher familiar with the applicant's ability and circumstances. This is an important part of the application so we encourage teachers to have a clear idea of the type of information they should be including.

As UCAS advise, references should provide universities and colleges with 'anĀ informed and academic assessment of an applicant's suitability for further study'.

UCAS offer clear advice for referees in their Reference Guide.

Among their most important points, note that the reference gives you the opportunity to:

  • flag up any circumstances that may have affected the applicant's attainment. For example, illness may have affected their exam performance or their subject choices may have been restricted by your school curriculum.
  • offer an insight into the applicant's attitude and performance in class. You may wish, for example, to highlight their enthusiasm and aptitude for a subject related to their application.

Avoid repeating any information that the applicant has included in their Personal Statement, unless you want to comment further on any specific achievements or activities.

Further advice:

The University of Strathclyde has produced a useful guide on writing UCAS references for teachers. Although it is based on Strathclyde's approach to references, it offers advice common to all institutions. See UCAS References - Strathclyde.