83% of students find the process of writing a personal statement stressful and 79% believe that it's difficult to complete without supportBethan Moss

Personal statements are to be replaced with a set of questions for university hopefuls, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) have announced this month.

The change will pave the way for bigger amendments to the application process such as multi-media submissions, says UCAS, with The Times reporting that video applications could be introduced.

Sam Lucy, Director of Admissions at the University, told Varsity that she welcomes the revisions, adding that “providing a more structured framework and better guidance to the expectations of universities will give Admissions Tutors more useful information, and will mean that less well supported students can engage more effectively with the process.”

The Future of Undergraduate Admissions report by UCAS, published on 12th January, detailed concerns over support for students writing personal statements being “not universal”. In the same report, UCAS acknowledged that the personal statement has been criticised “as a mechanism to ‘widen the gap’” between students.

The personal statement will be replaced by a series of questions covering six key areas: motivation for the course, preparedness for the course, preparation through other experiences, extenuating circumstances, preparedness for study, and preferred learning style.

UCAS hopes that the questions will “bring focus and clarity for students” and “reduce the need for support”.

The Future of Undergraduate Admissions report also revealed that 83% of students find the process of writing a personal statement stressful and 79% believe that the statement is difficult to complete without support.


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These statistics are supported by a report by The Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi) from November, which found that the task is an “unnecessary burden” on disadvantaged students and accused the 4,000 character essay of “contributing to inequalities in higher education access”.

Academic references will also be replaced with three structured questions for referees to answer. This comes after schools told UCAS that the ambiguous nature of the academic reference section – usually completed by an applicant’s form tutor or careers advisor – made it challenging to compare applicants against each other.

Alongside these changes, UCAS will introduce ‘Entry Grade Reports’ for applicants. This personalised tool will display the range of grade profiles that have been accepted for entry to courses over a five-year period, aiming to help students evaluate their options and consider courses they previously may not have.

Aside from Entry Grade Reports, which launches this year, all changes are set to be introduced in the 2024 application cycle, for those applying for 2025 entry onwards.