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    University Offers and Rejections Explained

    Applying to a UK university is a nerve-racking but exciting process, and if you’re looking to study an English language course, we’re sure some of you are doing so with hopes of a top UK university in mind.

    In the UK we use UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admission Service) to apply to for undergraduate courses instead of going to the universities directly. Of course, you can still contact your chosen university with any queries before applying, but UCAS will be the organisation which manages your applications.

    In a way this makes applications incredibly straightforward, you simply fill in your personal details along with a statement and wait for each institution’s decision to come in. Sometimes, however, having everything documented in one place can really increase the pressure when the offers come through!

    We know it can be confusing, especially when you’re applying for something as important as your university place, but with a few insights from graduates and some help from a careers adviser, the only thing you’ll need to worry about is perfecting your personal statement and waiting for those decisions.

    How many courses/universities can I apply for?

    You can apply for up to 5 choices, so it’s worth being sure of exactly what and where you would like to study.

    Are there deadlines?

    The deadline for medicine, dentistry, veterinary science, Oxford and Cambridge is set quite early on the 15th of October, meaning many A level students only just begin their final year at college before their applications are due! For all other courses and universities, the deadline is January 15th, with a select few art/design courses setting their deadlines on March 24th. UCAS will accept late applications (up to June 30th); however, universities are unlikely to consider you at this late stage as their courses will probably be full.

    Acceptance offers

    When you receive an acceptance offer it will either be conditional or unconditional. This basically refers to qualifications which may be outstanding, so, for example, if you’ll be sitting exams in the summer then your offer will be conditional on you achieving certain results. If you’ve already achieved your qualifications, English language proficiency and any health or financial requirements however, then your offer should be unconditional.

    Choosing which offer to accept

    Your offers and rejections will be listed as ‘successful’ or ‘unsuccessful’ respectively and will be listed under ‘Track’ within your UCAS account. When all of your decisions are in, you then choose your first choice as your ‘firm acceptance’ and your second preferred institution as ‘insurance acceptance’. You then decline the other three offers (assuming you’ve picked 5).


    Don’t panic if you haven’t had any offers – sometimes places get taken quickly so it isn’t necessarily a reflection of you or your application. It doesn’t always mean you won’t have a university place for September either with UCAS’s ‘Extra’ option. If you have used all of your 5 choices and all of your offers have been rejected then the Extra option allows you to apply to any courses which still have places available between the end of February and the beginning of July. But, if you don’t manage to secure a place in the Extra scheme then don’t worry, there’s still hope!


    Whereas Extra has been added quite recently, Clearing has been around for a while as a resort for students without any offers. Clearing can be used if you haven’t received any offers, you’ve chosen to decline your offers or you haven’t achieved the required qualifications. It can also be used if you send your application in late.

    Clearing basically means you can still apply for a course between mid-July and September, but many students use the service at the end of August and beginning of September after A level results are released. While you may be lucky and find your perfect course at a great university through clearing, remember, accepting a course 2 weeks before the start date can make finding accommodation in popular student residences difficult. Many students will have applied for the most desirable residences during the spring months.

    We hope this guide has made university applications a little more transparent, remember if you get offers then that’s fantastic, but if you don’t there’s still plenty of options available! If you’re worried about your written English when writing your personal statement then speak to a trusted careers adviser for help and advice, remember, it’s your future and a supportive college such as New College Manchester can help you reach your potential.