Academic references guide for undergraduate applications

Find out how we use references in our admissions process for undergraduate degrees and what we’d like you to include when providing a reference.

The University of Manchester supports the 2024 UCAS reference reform and hopes it’ll enable you to focus your contributions to students' applications while reducing the considerable time pressure on you when providing references. Further information is available on the UCAS website, including examples of good practice (Word doc, 310KB).

Manchester’s admissions process

We operate a devolved admissions process, and all decisions are made within individual academic Schools or Departments. Our academics and admissions staff assess each application holistically and judge whether the content and demand of the students' application provide suitable evidence that they’re sufficiently prepared to progress onto the course they’re applying for.

Due to our devolved nature, academic Schools or Departments may use references in different ways. Our priority is always to ensure the application process is as fair and consistent as possible. We know other universities may have different expectations from a UCAS academic reference therefore, we’d never advantage or disadvantage applicants whose reference includes more or less information than we’d like. If we need further information, we’ll contact you or the applicant directly.

How we use academic references

We use academic references to contextualise and reinforce the other parts of a UCAS application. References don’t form part of our core consideration (unlike predicted grades, achieved qualifications and personal statements) but they’re a useful tool when making decisions.

Referee contact details

If your applicant attends your school or college, we’ll need your reference to be provided with your official email address) or a generic published school email address and not a personal email account. We’ll use this email address if we require any more information.

Verifying qualifications

As a referee, UCAS provides a way for you to confirm you’ve verified all the qualifications listed by your applicant. You can reduce the evidence we ask applicants to provide by verifying their qualifications.

Check that applicants have entered their qualifications correctly, especially if the qualifications are available at different levels or offer similar subject titles, such as BTECs. Indicate whether each qualification is achieved or incomplete.

Evidence of grades achieved, such as GCSEs, may be required. Admissions generally accepted scanned copies of documents. However, the University can request original documents at any stage and during registration to the University.

Applicants with Access to Higher Education Diplomas or mature students

References for applicants studying an Access to Higher Education Diploma or mature students may need more detailed information later in the application process. This is because your applicant may have only just begun their current studies.