Once you have completed your UCAS application and your referee has done their bit they
will transfer it to UCAS. Within a day or two of receiving your application,
UCAS will send you an acknowledgement which you should check carefully - let
them know if there are any problems. This acknowledgment will contain your
PersonalID/Application Number. This will allow you to follow the progress of
your application using the online 'Track' system available on www.ucas.com.
At this stage, your application is made available for institutions to view online, however, they cannot view the other choices you have made. The institutions then make a decision on your application and whether or not they invite you to attend an interview. They have three choices:
- They can make an unconditional offer (i.e. they will give you a place
irrespective of any future exam results)
They can make a conditional offer (i.e. tell you what grades you need to achieve in your exams to be given a place).
They can reject your application.
Offers are made via UCAS and you reply via UCAS. If you accept an unconditional
offer, then that is it. You are committed to that institution and you cannot
hold alternative offers. Otherwise, you can accept up to two conditional
offers, normally the offer you most want and an 'insurance' offer (one that
requires lower exam grades). You need to decline any other offers apart from
these. Remember that you are committing yourself to take up the insurance offer
should you miss out on making your preferred place. If you really do not want
to go to a place other than your firm choice, then it is best not to hold an
In due course, your exam results are published and the institutions either
confirm your place or reject your application. If you achieve the grades
stipulated by your 'firm' choice place (or they accept you on a near-miss) then
that is where you'll be going. Otherwise it is down to whether or not you made
your insurance offer. If you didn't make this either, and many don't, do not
despair as there are still options available to you.
If you receive no offers in the first place you still have these
This system allows you to apply for further courses before Clearing if you have
no outstanding applications and hold no offers. Universities will be able to
place courses into the Extra system to which you can apply, but not all courses
will be included. Your application should be considered quickly (within 10
days) and an offer or rejection sent to you by the University. If you accept
the offer you can not make any further Extra applications. The system runs
between mid March and the end of June after which the normal Clearing system
comes into play. [More details from UCAS]
Once the exam results are published and most people have worked out where they are going, Clearing starts.
This is where universities who haven't filled all
their courses try to link up with suitable applicants who have not received a
place. The chances are that the more popular courses will be filled already and
will not be placed in the Clearing system.
UCAS organises Clearing and publishes details in the Spring. This will specify
how vacancies will be advertised, and normally will include the UCAS Website,
nominated daily and weekend national newspapers, BBC Radio and
Some Universities and Colleges accept direct applications and may well have
places available, especially in the less popular subject areas. Do a bit of
research and if there is a course that takes your fancy and the university or
college accepts direct application, give them a call.
Even if you have no offers - Don't panic. Don't be tempted to take the
first course that comes along in your rush to have somewhere to go. Consider
the options carefully and make sure you end up on the right sort of course for
Once you receive your offers, if you find you have achieved better grades than anticipated, you may be able to apply for another course through Adjustment.
When you receive your results, if you have met and exceeded your firm offer
conditions, you can have five days from the time your place was confirmed to
research places that match your actual performance. You have to opt in yourself,
via Track, and then research alternatives. You can then consider any new offers
alongside your existing confirmed place. Examples of eligible achievement include
an offer of AAB and an achievement of AAA; an offer of CCD (C in chemistry) and
an actual of ACD (A in chemistry). Visit UCAS website for more information.