Sometimes sending your UCAS application can be more daunting than the process of putting it together; suddenly your application is out of your control, in the hands of the universities. This article will explain what happens once your application has been submitted, as well as offering some tips and advice on responding to offers.
Taken from How to Complete Your UCAS Application 2020 Entry by Ray Le Tarouilly and UCAS
UCAS will send you a welcome email acknowledging receipt of your application and confirming your personal details and the courses you have applied for. You must check that this information is correct, and contact the UCAS Customer Experience Centre immediately if it is not (0371 486 0 468, between 08.30 and 18.00, Monday to Friday, or +44 330 3330 230 from outside the UK).
UCAS will also provide you with your Personal ID. Along with the password you used for Apply, this will enable you to log in to the UCAS database and use Track (the online tracking system) to follow the progress of your application. Keep a careful note of your Personal ID and, if you contact UCAS, universities or colleges, be prepared to quote it – this will save a lot of time and trouble.
Admissions tutors can now look at your application and decide whether to make you an offer. Decisions will arrive in a random order, possibly beginning a few weeks after you apply. If you have a long wait, it may mean that an admissions tutor is under great pressure due to a large number of applications. So, do not worry if people you know receive offers while you are still waiting to hear; it does not necessarily mean bad news.
There are three main categories of decision:
- Unconditional offer: no further qualifications are required. If you accept this offer, and meet all non-academic requirements (DBS and health checks for example), you are in!
- Conditional offer: you still have some work to do … but if you accept the offer and achieve the conditions in the examinations you are about to take, a place will be guaranteed.
- Unsuccessful: sorry – no luck. However, it may be that you receive an offer from one of your other choices. If all decisions are unsuccessful, you should not feel discouraged, as there is still the option of applying to courses through UCAS Extra and Clearing.
Replying to offers
You will be asked to reply to any offers you receive – and you must do so – but you do not have to reply until you have received decisions from all the universities and colleges to which you applied. You must reply to each offer with one of three options.
- Firm acceptance: if you firmly accept an offer (either as an unconditional offer or as a conditional offer), this means that you are sure that this offer is your first preference of all the offers you have received through UCAS. If you get the grades, this will be the higher education course you take. You can make this reply only once; you will not subsequently be able to change or cancel your reply.
- Insurance acceptance: if you have firmly accepted a conditional offer, you may also hold one additional offer (either conditional or unconditional) as an insurance acceptance. This is your fall-back, in case your grades are too low for your firm acceptance.
- Decline: if you decline an offer, you are indicating that you definitely do not wish to accept it.
Tips on making your replies
- Do not worry if people you know receive replies before you do. This does not mean that you are going to be rejected. Some admissions tutors, for various reasons, take longer to deal with applications than others.
- Consider your replies very carefully. Ask for advice from your school/college tutor or careers adviser.
- Do not accept an offer (firm or insurance) unless you are sure that you will be happy to enrol on the course. The decisions you make are binding; you are not permitted to alter your choices at a later stage unless you find that you have done better than you expected at exam results time and have higher grades than those required by your firm choice. You may then choose to use Adjustment.
- It is advisable to choose an unconditional offer as your insurance acceptance or one with conditions that are easier for you to meet than those of your firm acceptance.
- Do not include as an insurance acceptance a course that you would be unwilling to take up. If you are not accepted for your firm choice and the insurance offer is confirmed, you are committed to going there. It would be better not to hold an insurance acceptance than to hold one you would not be willing to take up.
- Bear in mind the precise requirements of the offer. For example, if a BCC offer requires a B in a subject you are not very confident about, but an offer requiring higher grades overall does not specify the B in that subject or perhaps counts general studies, then your firm/insurance decision needs to take these factors into account.
What if you don’t get any offers?
Do not worry if you are in this position as you will be able to make a further application in UCAS Extra.
Emma Davies works within the editorial department at Trotman Publishing. Graduating from her Masters degree in 2017, she is familiar with all aspects of the student journey through university. She is passionate about helping students find the right career, and was a member of the SYP’s inaugural committee in the South West.