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  • Writer's pictureThe Parents' Guide to

Finding out if they got their university place through UCAS

Once the application's made - what happens next?

After making their applications in January, students start to hear back from universities over the spring term. Once they've heard from all their universities, they select their first choice ("nominated" or "firm offer") and their second choice ("Insurance offer").

Father and daughter on laptop checking UCAS

The deadline for most pupils to reply to their offers is usually in the first week of June.

Offers could be unconditional (the university offers them a place regardless of the results of their examinations in the summer term) or conditional (the university offers a place subject to them achieving certain grades in their summer examinations).

In some cases, pupils may not get any offers, but don't worry, that doesn't mean they can't go to university in the autumn. If they don't get an offer from any of the five universities they applied to, they are eligible for "Extra" - in other words, they can apply to an additional university. They need to check there are still vacancies on the course they're interested in, and that they are likely to achieve the university's entry requirements. We recommend they call the university admissions team to check this.

Results day

The A Level and Pre-U grades will be published on in August. There will be staff available in schools and colleges to help students understand next steps, especially if their results aren't quite what they hoped.

University applicants will be able to find out whether or not they've been successful in getting a university place by logging into the UCAS website. Don't forget, if they received an unconditional offer, their university place is guaranteed and their results will have no impact. However, if they received a conditional offer, they'll want to find out if they've met it.

Two female students sixth form receiving results at school with teacher

Confirmation of conditional university places

If your teen's fulfilled the conditions of their firm offer, then UCAS will confirm their place. If they don't get an offer from their firm choice, they may have been successful with their insurance choice, in which case they can accept that place.

Some applicants may not meet the conditions of either their firm or insurance choice, but may be offered a place on a different course. They will be given details of this alternative offer and when they need to reply, either accepting or declining the alternative offer.

Details of places can be checked through UCAS straight after 8.00am on the 17th August. However, we recommend waiting until your teen has got their results before checking the UCAS website to see if they've got their university place. It can cause a lot of distress to find out they didn't get their preferred or insurance university place without knowing the context of why. UCAS will only say whether or not they have got their place, not the results they have achieved. It could be they missed out by just one or two points, but end up worrying that they have failed all their exams while they're waiting to get their individual exam results.

Deferred entry

If, for any reason, they decide to defer entry until 2024, they will need to re-submit a UCAS application in the 2024 season, which means they must withdraw from the 2023 season by declining any offers they have received or withdrawing their application if they have not received any offers.

Two female students walking into school


This is the process of finding a university place if they have missed the grades needed to fulfil the conditions of any of their offers, or if they have decided to decline their offers (perhaps because they have done better than expected and want to apply elsewhere). It is designed for students to find places for autumn 2023 admission.

UCAS has introduced a system called Clearing Plus which is designed to help them find

places through clearing more easily. It provides a list of available courses that are most relevant to their original application. By logging into their hub, they can view their "matches" and click

on the “I am interested“ button to notify that institution they are potentially interested in that course. We recommend they follow up by contacting the university direct. In addition, they can search clearing independently to see if there are courses that don't appear on their matches that might be of interest.

Be proactive

Time if of the essence in Clearing, so they should start telephoning universities that have vacancies straight away to see if they can secure an offer. Once they have a verbal offer they can enter their clearing choice into UCAS Track (any time from 1pm on the 17th August).

Places available through clearing can be reviewed ahead of results day, so it's worthwhile taking a look and noting down any courses of interest and the relevant numbers to telephone so they can act quickly once they get their results - especially true of they are worried they may not have done as well as they'd hoped.

The process is the same if they get better grades than expected and want to try for a different course for same year entry (rather than reapply the following year). They'll need to look at what's available through clearing. However, they should be cautious, as they will need to decline their offers in order to enter the clearing process and there is no guarantee they will secure a place on their newly chosen course.


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