CUKAS is a bespoke, specialised online admissions service which processes applications to undergraduate, postgraduate and other music and some dance and drama programmes at UK conservatoires. It also includes some foundation year courses at pre-undergraduate level and a limited number of research programmes, as well as a number of specialised study programmes. Launched in 2005, the development of CUKAS was a joint effort between Conservatoires UK, and UCAS.
Admission to most UK conservatoires was traditionally via application to individual colleges. CUKAS enables applicants to create a single electronic application that can be submitted simultaneously to up to six conservatoires. The participating colleges are Birmingham Conservatoire, Leeds College of Music, Royal Academy of Music, Royal College of Music, Royal Northern College of Music, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. Importantly, applicants can also make a separate application through UCAS to other UK higher education institutions offering music, dance and drama courses, although they can only accept a place through one system.
Although applicants still audition at individual colleges, CUKAS streamlines the process of applying to conservatoire courses. The system aims to manage the selection and admissions process more effectively – both across the sector and at institutional level – and therefore offer a more effective service to applicants and their schools; produce better and more comprehensive demographic data regarding applicants and students; help to promote the social inclusion agenda and raise awareness of UK conservatoire education and training at national and international levels.