Information, advice and guidance
Student support

Receiving and responding to university offers

Students are bound to feel the pressure when they receive offers and the choice is in their hands. It’s a huge decision and it would be more worrying if students weren’t phased by this milestone! So how can you best support them through this process?

Take time

Students may feel pressured once they receive offers to make a particular university their firm or insurance choice, particularly as this can be part of the criteria to apply for accommodation. Encourage your students to pause and take stock. They don’t have to decide as soon as the offer comes in, particularly if they are waiting for further desirable offers. They will also need to confirm their firm and insurance choice at the same time, if their firm choice is not unconditional, so should avoid being too hasty.

Remind students that most applicants will receive all their offers by 18th May (as long as they have met the January ‘equal consideration’ deadline) and will have until 8th June to respond. Students can choose to respond to offers before they have received responses from all their choices but should carefully consider this as they will need to ‘permanently withdraw’ from their other choices. Those applying later will have a tighter time frame; applicants who apply by 30th June will receive offers by 12th July and will need to respond by 17th July (note that all of these dates are for the 2023 cycle and could change in future years).

Students should use the time they have to consider their decision. Most importantly, they shouldn’t feel rushed and make a decision they may regret.

Write a list of pros and cons

Supporting students with this next step can be a challenge; only the student knows what their priorities are. The best thing you can do is be supportive and available. Help them work through the jumble of thoughts in their head and get them down on paper, phone, iPad, sticky note or whatever is at hand. Encourage them to articulate their thoughts and consider the pros and cons of each choice. Vitally, reassure your students. They have time and they should feel confident in their decision.

Making a firm or insurance choice

Applicants may receive several offers but can only accept two, one firm and one insurance choice. Students won’t select an insurance choice if their firm choice is unconditional as they are already guaranteed a place. Most students with a conditional firm choice set an insurance choice, although it isn’t compulsory.

Your students’ firm choice should be their first choice as if they meet the conditions of this offer their place will be confirmed. The insurance choice is their second choice. If a student doesn’t meet the conditions of their firm choice but does meet the conditions of the insurance, their place will be confirmed at this choice. It would be wise for a student to select an insurance choice with lower grade requirements than their firm choice. This means that if they do not meet the grades of their firm choice, they may still meet the requirements of the insurance.

Students who meet the conditions of their firm choice are committed to this choice and can’t simply choose to take their insurance choice. It’s possible to withdraw from a firm choice by releasing into Clearing, but students should not do this unless they receive an offer for a Clearing place which they prefer to their firm choice.

UCAS Extra

If your students do not receive any offers from universities or do not want to accept the offers they have, they might consider using UCAS Extra.

UCAS Extra gives applicants the opportunity to select another university or college choice if all five choices from their original application have not been accepted or the student has rejected all their offers. Students can use Extra between 23rd February and 4th July. If students did not use all five of their choices in their initial application, they can add another choice before 30th June for a small application fee.

If students do choose to apply through Extra, they will only be able to apply to one course at a time. The university or college has 21 days to respond after which a students can choose to wait or select a new choice.

Double check!

As always, it is worth reminding your students to double check once they have responded to their offers or made an Extra choice. Is everything as they expected it to be? If not, they should contact UCAS to explain the situation and get this rectified as soon as possible.

Useful links

> Department for Education blog - UCAS application deadlines 2023: When do I need to accept my university offer by?
> UCAS Extra
> Replying to offer – your questions answered


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