How to accept UCAS offers

Choosing and applying for your preferred universities is no easy task, and once your applications have been completed and sent off, your work is not quite over yet. Understanding the process of accepting university offers is key to finding the right university place for you.

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The basics

When all of your chosen universities have made their offers, it's time to choose which you're going to accept. You don't have to do this until all of the universities you have applied to have responded to you. You're able to accept one UF or CF offer (unconditional or conditional) as your Firm Acceptance. If your choice for Firm Acceptance was conditional (CF), you also have the opportunity to accept a second offer as your CI choice (your Insurance Acceptance) - after which you must decline any further offers. Usually, most students will choose their first choice university as their First Acceptance, then a lesser preferred university as their CI choice.

On acceptance

Consider your offers carefully, because once you have accepted an offer both you and the university are bound by UCAS rules. Firm Acceptance of an unconditional offer is straightforward, it means you have a guaranteed place at your chosen university. Firm Acceptance of a conditional offer (CF) means that you need to meet the conditions set by the university - if you do so, then you're obliged to study there and they're obliged to provide you with a place. If you have conditional offers, you must consider your ability to meet the conditions of your chosen university with your desire to study there. So, for example, if you realistically anticipate ABB (128 UCAS tariff points) in your A-Levels and your offers are all to BCC (104 UCAS tariff points) or less, then it's only a question of where you want to study. If this is not the case, however, you'll need to work out what sort of tariff points you can achieve and balance that against your choice of university.

Insurance Acceptance

In certain circumstances, you may want to simply make a Firm Acceptance and decline your other offers - for example, if you're sure you have enough UCAS tariff points to secure a place at your chosen university. For most students, however, it makes sense to have a second choice as your Insurance Acceptance. Naturally, if you get a place with your first choice, the University of Cumbria for example, your Insurance Acceptance is automatically moot. However, in the event that you don't secure a place in your first choice university, your Insurance Acceptance may be able to offer you a place before you need to consider the Clearing. Roughly 8% of students end up attending their Insurance Acceptance every year. This is a relatively low figure, but you still need to put the time and effort into making sure it's somewhere you actually want to study. You need to do this because, in the event that you're allotted a place, you're bound by UCAS rules to go and study there. So make sure you consider very seriously your choices, even if it's for a backup. Often, Clearing can provide easier to find places in certain subjects, such as electronic engineering or chemistry, so if you really only have one firm choice you want to go for, you're better off declining an Insurance Acceptance - it would delay how quickly you could get into Clearing on your first choice being declined.

Responding to offers

Whatever you choose, make sure you actually reply to your offers and keep a close eye on any reminders that you get through the UCAS system. If you don't, you'll be considered 'declined by default' and your offers will be revoked. Easily keep tabs on your applications' progress through the Track feature of your account. UCAS will allow you to keep up to date on all of your applications - so make sure you respond in good time, and keep checking regularly, don't wait for reminders. Make sure you know your important deadlines for replying to offers.

    • May 1st - Respond to offers received by March 31st.
    • June 6th - If all decisions are received by UCAS before 2nd of May.
    • June 20th - Extended deadline to offers received by 6th June.
    • July 18th - Final deadline, includes UCAS Extra, for all decisions made by 11th July