UCAS terms explained

We use quite a few terms in the application process. We’ve explained them all here, if you need to check what any mean.
Confused by UCAS terms?
Watch our quick video guide for an explanation of the UCAS terms you'll hear.
View more videos

Adjustment – in a UCAS Undergraduate application, one of the services you can use to look for alternative courses. This one’s in case you’ve met and exceeded your conditions and you’d like to see if you can get on a course with higher entry requirements – all while still holding your original confirmed place.

Apply – in your application, the name of our online application system. (For postgraduate courses, Apply is combined with Track.)

Bachelors degree – a three or four year course you can take in undergraduate higher education after you’ve finished further education – also known as a first or undergraduate degree. It’s either a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science, depending what subject you choose.

Buzzword – for UCAS Undergraduate applications, your school, college, or centre will give you a buzzword so you can link your application to them. It's a word you add to your application when you register to make a UCAS Undergraduate application (unless you're applying independently).

Centre – a school, college, or organisation that can help students apply to higher education.

Changed course offer – in your application, you might get one of these if you haven’t met your conditions, or if the university or college has made changes to the courses they run. It might involve a different start date or point of entry, or a different course altogether.

Choice – a choice is a course you apply for on your application – many students make multiple choices to increase their chances of getting a place.

Clearing – in a UCAS Undergraduate application, Clearing is another service you can use to look for alternative courses. If you didn’t get a place on a course – whether you didn’t receive offers, declined your offers, or didn’t get the grades you needed – Clearing allows you to apply for courses that still have vacancies.

College – a provider of further and higher education. When we use the term 'uni' or 'university', this is often a generic reference that incorporates colleges too. For example, when we say 'applying to university', we mean 'applying to university or college', but in a more concise way.

Conditional offer – in your application, an offer of a place on a course subject to conditions. To be accepted on the course, you’ll need to meet the conditions – usually related to your exam results. This is a common type of offer for students applying directly from further education.

Confirmation – in your application, the outcome of a conditional offer you’ve accepted. If you meet the conditions, your place will be made unconditional (meaning you’ve got a place on the course) – if not, the offer will be declined.

Conservatoire – a provider of performance-based music, dance, screen, and drama courses.

Course – there are many different courses across different levels, subjects, and locations – from foundation degrees to PhDs.

Course and training providers – a university, college, conservatoire, School Direct school, or other provider offering higher education courses.

Deferral – in your application, this is what you do if you’d like to carry an offer over to start it in the following academic year. 

Entry Profiles – these are in course listings in the search tool – they’re put together by uni and college staff, with information including entry requirements and course content.

Entry requirements – this is what the course provider recommends you need to do/have to get on the course – from qualifications and specific subjects or grades, to interviews, admissions tests, and medical requirements. You aren't guaranteed an offer if you meet or already have these.

Extra – in a UCAS Undergraduate application, Extra is a service you can use to apply for alternative places if you do not hold an offer from your first five choices.

Firm choice – in your application, an offer you accept as your first choice.

Further education (FE) – the level of education you complete at school or college before you start higher education.

Graduate – a student who has completed and graduated from an undergraduate course – they can now apply for postgraduate courses if they’d like to.

HEP – a higher education provider – a university, college, or conservatoire.

Higher education (HE) – the level of education we can help you apply to – from undergraduate courses when you’ve finished further education, to postgraduate courses you can move on to after graduating from an undergraduate degree.

Honours – for example, an ‘honours degree’. Most first degrees in higher education can come with ‘honours’. It’s not a grade as such – it just means it’s possible to get your degree ‘with honours’, which would be an extra indication of quality. Check what you need to do to get honours – it might be getting a certain grade or submitting a good dissertation.

Insurance choice – in your application, an offer you accept as your second choice – just in case you don’t meet the conditions of your firm offer.

Invitation – in your application, you may receive an invitation from a university or college asking you to attend an interview or audition, or to provide a portfolio, essay, or another piece of work.

League tables – rankings of course providers – these can be an overall ranking, or listed by reputation, courses, or departments.

Personal ID – the ten digit number you get when you register to Apply – displayed in 123-456-7890 format on every email we send you. You’ll be asked for this if you get in touch with our Customer Experience Centre.

Personal statement – a piece of text applicants write to show why they’re applying and why they’d be a great student for a course provider to accept.

Point of entry – in your application, which year of the course you start at – for example ‘2’ means you’d start in the second year of the course.

Postgraduate – higher education study for graduates who have already completed an undergraduate course.

Referee – in your application, someone who provides a reference for you.

Reference – in your application, a recommendation on an applicant’s application from a teacher, adviser, or professional.

Sandwich course – a course with an additional year where you work in the profession you're studying for.

Scheme code – in your application, this is used along with your Personal ID to identify your application.

School Direct – part of the UCAS Teacher Training application scheme – for students studying postgraduate teacher training programmes based in a School Direct school.

Tariff – the UCAS Tariff is the system for allocating points to the different qualifications you can use to get into undergraduate higher education. Not all qualifications will be included in the Tariff. It is for use in admissions only and is not transferable to the job market.

Track – the name of our online tracking system where you can see how your application is progressing. Here you can reply to offers and make amendments, like changing your email address etc. (For postgraduate courses, Apply is combined with Track.)

UCAS – the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service in the UK. This includes our main UCAS Undergraduate application, as well as the other schemes we run, e.g., UCAS Conservatoires, UCAS Teacher Training, and UKPASS (UCAS Postgraduate). We also help students from 13 years old onwards with UCAS Progress.

UCAS Conservatoires – the name of the application service for performance-based courses (formerly CUKAS).

UCAS Teacher Training – the UCAS application service for postgraduate teacher training.

UKPASS – the UK Postgraduate Application and Statistical Service – the name of the postgraduate application service.

Unconditional offer – in your application, an offer of a place on a course with no conditions – the place is yours if you want it.

Undergraduate – the first level of study in higher education. If you graduate from an undergraduate degree, you can move on to postgraduate study.

Unistats – a useful website for students to research and compare subjects, universities, and colleges – from student satisfaction ratings to stats about getting a graduate job after you finish the course.

University – (or ‘uni’ for short) – a provider of higher education.

Unsuccessful – in your application, either you haven’t been made an offer or you haven’t met the conditions of a conditional offer.

Withdrawal – in your application, before the decision has been made to make you an offer or not, either you or the university or college can withdraw a choice.