Here we explain what we do with your child's application and the different decisions a uni or college can make.
  1. Personal statement check

    Your child’s personal statement is checked to make sure it has not been copied, then all the information in their application is processed. This can take up to 48 hours.
  2. Welcome email

    They will then be sent a welcome email when the checks are complete. This explains how to check the progress of their application, and contains their Personal ID, which they’ll need to sign in.
  3. Application sent to universities

    At the same time, the application is sent to their chosen universities and colleges. Their choices won’t know where else they’ve applied.
  4. University decisions

    As soon as universities and colleges let UCAS know about an interview, audition, test, or decision, your child will receive an email so they know to check their application.

Types of decisions a university or college can make

Receiving a conditional or unconditional offer is good news, but it’s important to know the difference and commitment they’re making if they accept one.

  • A conditional offer means your child needs to meet some conditions – usually exam results. If they accept a conditional offer as their firm choice, they are committed to taking up the place if they meet the conditions.
  • An unconditional offer means the place is theirs if they want it. They still might have to meet non-academic conditions, such as a health check. If they accept an unconditional offer as their firm choice, they are committed to taking up the  place, regardless of what grades they get.
  • An unsuccessful application means the university has decided not to offer them a place.
  • A withdrawn application means the choice has been withdrawn, either by your child, or by the university. If the university has done this, they’ll let your child know why.

Replying to offers

Once they've received decisions from all their choices, your child needs to reply to any offers they have. Make sure they’re accepting the right offer, for the right reasons.

Before replying, they need to:

  1. understand the conditions of their offer – if they’re not sure, they should contact the university
  2. visit the university or college – if they haven’t already done so, it’s good to check if it’s somewhere they’ll be happy
  3. discuss any individual needs with the university – for example, if they have a disability, so everything is in place when they start the course
  4. check the tuition fees – it’s important to know what they are before accepting the offer
  5. take time to compare their offers, to make sure they’re happy with those they want to accept and those they don’t

What replies can they make?

Your child can accept an offer as their firm or insurance choice.

Firm choice
  • For a conditional offer, they will be guaranteed a place on the course if they meet the conditions.
  • For an unconditional offer, the place is theirs.

In either case, they are committed to that course at that university or college.

Insurance choice

This has the same level of commitment as a firm choice, but only comes into play if your child doesn’t meet the conditions of their firm choice – it’s like a second chance to get a place. It makes sense for the insurance choice to have less demanding conditions than the firm choice.

When do they need to reply?

Your child will have a deadline to reply to the offers they receive, which depends on when they received the last one. The table below shows the official deadline dates, but it’s really important they check their application to see their personal deadline.

If they don’t reply to their offers by their deadline, any offers they have will be automatically declined on their behalf – this is called decline by default.

Last decision received on or before 16 May 2024
Their reply date is 6 June 2024 unless they’re using Extra to find a place.
Last decision received on or before 17 July 2024
Their reply date is 24 July 2024.

How can you help?

Narrowing down a potential five offers to decide their firm and insurance choices can be difficult. This is where you can serve as a valuable sounding board.

If they’re unsure what to do, talk to them about what they want to get out of a course and their university experience.

Has this changed at all in the last few months? How do these offers align with their goals or preferences?

Changing replies
Once they’ve replied to offers, they have 14 days in which to change their replies, but can only do so once.