How do unis make their decisions?
Each university has different entry requirements. You should check you meet the course and university entry requirements before you apply. However, there are other factors university admissions teams consider when making their decisions.
- What academic and non-academic achievements do you have? Have you met the required grades for the course, and what is the likelihood of you achieving the course entry requirements for any qualifications you haven't yet sat exams for?
- Do you have the experience and skills to succeed at university?
- Do you have a passion for the subject area, and does this enthusiasm come across in your application?
- Who are your references and what have they said about you?
- Is the course and uni you've applied for the right course and university for you?
Ulitmately, it's the job of the university admissions team to determine whether you can succeed on the course you have applied for.
The wait for decisions on your application can be agonising. It’s a good idea to use this time effectively by familiarising yourself with the decisions the unis you’ve applied to could make, so you know what to expect and what to do when the time comes.
Each university and college will make their decisions at different times, meaning you might hear back before your friends do, or vice versa. However, there are deadlines by which they will need to have decided:
- 23 October 2018 – this is the final deadline for unis to make decisions on applications to courses starting in 2018.
- 2 May 2019 – if you sent your application by 15 January 2019.
- 11 July 2019 – if you sent your application by 30 June 2019.
- 22 October 2019 – this is the final deadline for unis to make decisions on applications to courses starting in 2019.
If a uni you’ve applied to doesn’t make a decision by the appropriate deadline, that choice will be automatically made unsuccessful.
Decisions universities and colleges can make
- A conditional offer means you still need to meet the requirements – usually exam results.
- An unconditional offer means you've got a place, although there might still be a few things to arrange.
- An unsuccessful or withdrawn choice removes that option, but you could add more.
For most people, this means waiting for results day in summer to see if your exam results meet the conditions. They could be a combination of grade, scores or subjects – as explained in the entry requirements and Tariff info.
A conditional offer might look something like this:
- A levels grade AAB with A in chemistry and at least two other sciences or mathematics
- 60 UCAS Tariff points including BTEC 18-unit Diploma Pass
- Scottish Higher grades of BBBB
- Advanced Diploma Progression Diploma Grade A in Creative and Media, plus an A level at Grade B for Additional and Specialist Learning
- 88 UCAS Tariff points of which at least 60 must be obtained from two A levels or equivalent excluding General Studies. Equivalent qualifications can include GCE/VCE Single or Double Award, BTEC and OCR Nationals, Scottish Highers and Advanced Highers, but do not include AS Awards and BTEC QCF Certificate
If you're applying for deferred entry in 2020, you need to meet any offer conditions by 31 August 2019 – unless you agree something else with the university/college. Although if you have winter exams earlier in the year, you might actually get earlier dates you have to meet your conditions by.
- Even though you've already met the academic requirements, you might also need to get a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) or Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) check, provide proof of your qualifications or meet some financial/medical requirements.
- By accepting an unconditional offer you are committing to go to that uni or college, so you can't make an insurance choice or be entered into Clearing.
If you're taking exams, your results won't affect whether or not you get accepted. But, although your uni place won't be dependent on your grades, they'll probably still have an impact on your future employment.
For example, graduate employers normally take A level and other qualifications into account when reviewing job applications, so it's important you take this into consideration when preparing for your exams. For more advice about what you need to consider when accepting an unconditional offer, read the UCAS blog.
Your consumer rights
You should have received specific information from your chosen universities to help you make an informed decision. They're required to make this available to you under consumer protection legislation – find out about the information you should receive.
The reason will show up in Track – maybe you didn't respond to emails/letters they sent, or missed an interview.
Sometimes they'll give a reason, either with their decision or at a later date. If not, you can contact them to ask if they'll discuss the reason with you.
Don't worry if you don't get any offers though – you might be able to add extra choices now, or look for course availability later on.
Adding an Extra choice
You might be able to add another choice through our Extra service if you've received decisions from all five universities or colleges and weren't accepted, or if you declined the offers you received. Extra is a free service – available for you to apply to one course at a time between 25 February and 4 July. If Extra is available to you, it'll show up as a button when you sign in to Track.