Although most drama schools are now part of (or associated with) universities, there are a number of differences in the application processes that it's important to be aware of, writes Simon Dunmore.
Primarily, it's what you can show them in audition that really matters and not your exam results — although some do require minimal A-level grades. Around a third of courses require application through UCAS; the others ask you to apply directly — application deadlines vary so check with each one that interests you.
There is a core of established drama schools which belong to an organisation called the Conference of Drama Schools (CDS — www.drama.ac.uk). Most of these run courses that are ‘accredited' by the National Council for Drama Training (NCDT — www.ncdt.co.uk). At present, all courses that have ‘accreditation' are provided by schools who are members of the CDS. However, there are also courses within these schools which don't have ‘accreditation', and there are a few well-respected courses that are neither ‘accredited' nor part of CDS schools. The reasons for these variations are too complex to explain here. However, if you get a place on a three-year accredited course, you will get funding in the same way as those accepted on to conventional university courses — with the exception of those (currently, five) schoolswhich use the Dance and Drama Awards (DaDAs) system. These were introduced in the late 1990s and provide funding for about two-thirds of successful applicants at these schools. For more details check each relevant school's prospectus and website.