Of those who choose to pursue higher education in the UK, UCAS manages almost 3 million applications, from around 700,000 individuals. The shared service brings:
- efficiencies for students
- efficiencies for the higher education providers considering those applications
- clear transparent expectations for what the admissions journey will look like
- a wealth of data to help the sector understand where opportunities for improvement lie
Underpinning this shared system is a set of application dates and deadlines. These uphold fair admissions for home and international students, avoid a first-come-first-served approach, and allow students to make well considered and informed decisions; while response deadlines mean that providers can give students due consideration and students are protected from pressures to accept the earliest offers they receive.
In response to the pandemic, 2021 saw the movement of the previous 15 January equal consideration deadline (ECD) to the final Wednesday of January. In tandem with this, reject by default (RBD) and decline by default (DBD) deadlines were also consolidated and moved.
UCAS is holding a formal consultation with the sector to test whether the post-Covid dates and deadlines continue to support providers and applicants or need to be revised, with outcomes being implemented for the 2025 entry cycle.
Initial options for future cycles have been developed with input from across the sector and are:
- Maintain current January ECD (last Wednesday of January) and May RBD (second Wednesday).
- Move January ECD to second Wednesday in January, and RBD to first Wednesday in May.
- Move January ECD to third Wednesday in December, and RBD to last Wednesday in April.