Tips on responding to offers

Here are a few tips to help guide you through the decision process.

Decisions will arrive in a random order, possibly beginning a few weeks after you apply, so you should log in to Track periodically to check the status of your application.

There are three main categories of decision:

  1. Unconditional offer: no further qualifications are required. If you accept this offer, and meet all non-academic requirements (DBS and health checks for example), you are in!
  2. Conditional offer: you still have some work to do … but if you accept the offer and achieve the conditions in the examinations you are about to take, a place will be guaranteed.
  3. Unsuccessful: sorry – no luck. However, it may be that you receive an offer from one of your other choices. If all decisions are unsuccessful, you should not feel discouraged, as there is still the option of applying to courses through UCAS Extra and Clearing.

Replying to offers

You will be asked to reply to any offers you receive – and you must do so – but you do not have to reply until you have received decisions from all the universities and colleges to which you applied. You must reply to each offer with one of three options.

  1. Firm acceptance: if you firmly accept an offer (either as an unconditional offer or as a conditional offer), this means that you are sure that this offer is your first preference of all the offers you have received through UCAS. If you get the grades, this will be the higher education course you take. You can make this reply only once; you will not subsequently be able to change or cancel your reply.
  2. Insurance acceptance: if you have firmly accepted a conditional offer, you may also hold one additional offer (either conditional or unconditional) as an insurance acceptance. This is your fall-back, in case your grades are too low for your firm acceptance.
  3. Decline: if you decline an offer, you are indicating that you definitely do not wish to accept it.

Tips on making your replies

  • Do not worry if people you know receive replies before you do. This does not mean that you are going to be rejected. Some admissions tutors, for various reasons, take longer to deal with applications than others.
  • Consider your replies very carefully. Ask for advice from your school/college tutor or careers adviser.
  • Do not accept an offer (firm or insurance) unless you are sure that you will be happy to enrol on the course. The decisions you make are binding; you are not permitted to alter your choices at a later stage unless you find that you have done better than you expected at exam results time and have higher grades than those required by your firm choice. You may then choose to use Adjustment.
  • It is advisable to choose an unconditional offer as your insurance acceptance or one with conditions that are easier for you to meet than those of your firm acceptance.
  • Do not include as an insurance acceptance a course that you would be unwilling to take up. If you are not accepted for your firm choice and the insurance offer is confirmed, you are committed to going there. It would be better not to hold an insurance acceptance than to hold one you would not be willing to take up.
  • Bear in mind the precise requirements of the offer. For example, if a BCC offer requires a B in a subject you are not very confident about, but an offer requiring higher grades overall does not specify the B in that subject or perhaps counts general studies, then your firm/insurance decision needs to take these factors into account.

What if you don’t get any offers?

Do not worry if you are in this position as you will be able to make a further application in UCAS Extra.


Content generously provided by Indigo Trotman.

Content from How to Complete your UCAS Application 2019 Entry, 9781911067863.