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Next steps following the UCAS January application deadline

You’ve met the January 2018 UCAS deadline. Well done! The endless amends of the personal statement are behind you. The many decisions about which university and course are behind you. The exciting next chapter of your life is ahead of you.

Now is the time to concentrate on your current study. If you have your A-levels or equivalent, also try not to check your UCAS Track too often.

From 15 Jan to end of March

Your application will be with the university or universities you have chosen. On average a modest sized university of a total of 12,000 students will welcome 4000 students a year across the courses taught. The number of offers made by a university versus applications received does vary.

For illustrative purposes let’s say for every 5 applications, 1 offer is made. The medium sized university is therefore receiving over 20,000 applications. This is little simplified and there are other ratios such as offer to acceptance. However, the point to be made is that universities across the UK are receiving high numbers of applications that they will need to process. These applications usually go through a centralised admissions office which may be staffed by as little as 15 people.

Sometimes applications may have to go to the academic school or department for a decision too. In this period, a university’s admissions department may require additional information or actions from you. For creative courses there may be the need for a portfolio or audition before an offer can be made. For health and social care courses there is likely to be an interview required before a decisions can be made.

All of the above means it can take some time for a university to inform you of a decision. Universities will make rolling offers too. So if your friend hears before you, it does not mean you have not been given an offer, your application has not been fully processed.

If it has reached the end of March and you have not received a decision from other universities you have applied to, call the university admissions office to check on the status.

All decisions received

It is March and you have received all decisions. Some possible outcomes and options for you:

Offers received: Congratulations! Assuming you have applied to five universities and two or more have made you an offer. Now you need to choose two subjects – one to be your firm choice and one to be your second choice university.

You will be assumed to be going to the firm (first choice) university if you meet the conditions set by the university. You can be released if you change your mind but this cannot be done until August at the Clearing stage. It may also take a few days for the university to action.

Another important point is around accommodation. You can only make arrangements for accommodation (university halls of residences) with you firm choice. Your second choice university can only process accommodation requests if you change your offer to them. This can be your choice or will automatically happen if you do not meet the conditions of your first choice but do for the reserve university.

You may gain higher grades than predicted and want to apply for another university. You can do this in Clearing. See below.

No offer received: Certainly not a good feeling not to be made an offer. It is important for you to evaluate why you did not receive an offer. The university will provide a reason and you can always contact them if they have not. Maybe you don’t yet have the right background for the course. Your portfolio or interview may not have fitted the criteria of the university applied too. You can work on getting the right experience. You may have applied for a high demand course and/or high demand university.

So there are a number of reasons why the five universities you chose have not accepted you. By knowing why and seeing how this can be corrected or whether a shift of focus is needed will help you as there are options going forward.There are over 150 universities in the UK. You may have missed a great university which can offer you a course.

Some options:

UCAS Extra Extra is another chance for you to gain a place at university or college, between 25th February and 4th July. If you used all five of your choices on your original UCAS application and you’re not holding an offer, you’ll be able to add another choice using Extra.

Clearing: This is where universities who offer courses to apply for if they have not filled. Thousands of courses enter the Clearing process. Highly ranked universities use Clearing too. You may find that you gain higher grades than expected. If this is the case, you may join a university you may have written off earlier in the application stage. Clearing opens in mid-August. It is key to move quickly as universities will close the course as soon as it fills.

Study Abroad: Have you looked into options overseas? For example, high demand subjects in the UK may be available overseas. There are a lot of courses taught in English in Europe!

Take a year out: A year out can be a great opportunity to retake an exam, study another subject at college, get work experience or travel. From your evaluation of why you didn’t get an offer will help direct on what you may need to do. You may decide some time out to re-evaluate the next steps may be valuable. You may feel the pressure to go into university straight after school/college. Many people quit university or change course due to rushing so if you are unsure, a year out can be fruitful – just be sure to make it count!

Further questions or advice needed? Check out our other articles. Why not ask the question on the forum where FutureBot and FutureBot users can help answer.

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