Replying to Offers

All being well, particularly if you have chosen your universities carefully, you will receive offers from your five UCAS choices.

You can hold onto any offer you receive until all your chosen universities have made their decisions and then you have to choose which one(s) you want to accept.

  • You can accept one offer as your Firm Acceptance (often called your UF choice if the offer was unconditional or your CF choice if it was conditional).
  • If your Firm Acceptance is CF, then you can accept a second offer as your Insurance Acceptance (often called your CI choice) and then you must decline any other offers.
  • Most applicants who have more than one conditional offer will accept as CF their first choice university and then a university which has made a lower offer as their CI choice.

You can decline all your offers if you wish.

  • Perhaps you have realised that you have made a mistake in your choice of subject and now wish to look for another subject in UCAS Extra or the Clearing procedure.
  • However, normally you will want to accept one offer as your firm acceptance.

Once you have accepted an offer, you and the university are bound together by the rules of UCAS.

  • If you firmly accept an unconditional offer then you have a definite place at that university.
  • If you firmly accept a conditional offer and then meet all the conditions, the university is obliged to accept you and you are obliged to go there to study.

In making your Firm Acceptance, assuming you have conditional offers, you will have to balance your desire to attend a particular university against your estimate of whether you can meet the conditions.

  • If you expect to get ABB (or 128 UCAS tariff points) at A level and the offers are all BCC (or 104 points) or below, then it is easy: choose the place you want to go.
  • If, however, you think you will get BCC and your offers are ABB, BBB, BCC, and CDD, the decision is more difficult, especially if you really want to go to the university that offered ABB. 
  • This might be the time to focus on your forthcoming exams.

This is where the Insurance Acceptance comes in.

  • If you want to, you can just have a Firm acceptance and decline the rest. However, most applicants with more than one offer choose an Insurance Acceptance as well.
  • If you are accepted by your Firm choice then the Insurance choice becomes irrelevant.
  • However, if your Firm choice turns you down because you don't meet their conditions, you might still be accepted by your Insurance choice, so you do get a second chance before heading for Clearing.

Therefore it makes sense to choose a lower offer for your Insurance choice so as to maximise your chances of getting at least one of your two choices.

  • Do make sure it is a university which you would still like to go to because, if that is where you are placed, the UCAS rules require you to go there.
  • Typically about eight per cent of applicants utilise their Insurance choice each year.
  • Remember that in some subjects, such as chemistry or electronic engineering, places in Clearing, even at prestigious universities, are easier to obtain, so you might be better off choosing just a Firm choice rather than two choices, one of which you don't really want.
  • In fact, holding an Insurance offer just for the sake of it would delay your entry into Clearing. 
  • Finally, make sure you do reply to your offers. If you don't, and ignore the UCAS reminders you will be 'declined by default' and lose your offers.

You can track the progress of your application throughout the process using Track.

  • Your password will be sent to you with the acknowledgement of your application and the facility will give you an up-to-the-minute summary of where all your applications are at in the system.

There are several different deadlines for replying to university offers, depending on when you submitted your application and when UCAS received offers and decisions by universities.

  • May. If you received any offers by March 31, you must respond to offers by this date.
  • June. If UCAS receives all decision from universities by 3 May, you need to reply to any offers by this date (unless you are applying through UCAS Extra).
  • 21 June. Extended deadline to reply to university offers. If UCAS receives all decision from universities by 7 June you need to reply to offers by this date (unless you are applying through UCAS Extra).
  • 19 July. Final deadline to reply. If UCAS receives all decisions from universities by 12 July, you need to reply to any offers by this date. This includes UCAS Extra applicants.