When you submit an online application to UCAS, UCAS forwards a copy of your application to the institution or institutions to which you have applied. The institutions then process it in accordance with their admissions policies.
For some courses, the institution may make you an offer based on the information within the application. Other courses may require further selection stages, such as interviews, tests or a portfolio review. Once the appropriate selection process for the course has been completed, the institution will communicate their decision to you. You can check progress of your application through the UCAS Track online system.
You should put this in writing to the university as soon as your academic profile has changed. The university needs this information to ensure that any decision on the application is made using the most accurate information provided by the applicant.
If the university makes a decision based on information which subsequently changes, the admissions tutor will need to review the application in light of the new information. If the changes to your academic profile mean that you will not be able to meet the minimum entry requirements (or specified academic conditions if an offer has already been made) this will be taken into account.
If you feel there are mitigating circumstances surrounding the changes to your academic profile, you should provide details to the university. The more information the university has, the more able it will be to make an informed decision.
Once you’ve heard from all of your choices, UCAS will ask you to confirm which place you wish to accept. Applicants who have been made conditional offers can opt to accept a first choice place (called your ‘firm’ choice) and to also accept a second place as a back-up choice (called your ‘insurance’ choice). If you have been made an unconditional offer of a place, you are asked to confirm which place you definitely wish to accept and are not permitted to hold a back-up offer.
Applicants who accept a conditional offer are required to meet any conditions set in order to definitely secure their place. Some courses require applicants to meet other conditions in addition to any required academic conditions.
Don’t panic – there are other opportunities to try and secure a place on a course. UCAS offer a service called Extra which allows applicants who’ve not been able to secure a place from their initial choices to contact institutions and ask them to consider the application for a specific course if vacancies are available. The ‘Extra’ system allows you an additional chance to secure a place without the need to pay any additional application fee.
If you choose not to use the Extra option or don’t secure a place using this method, you may opt to enter Clearing later in the admissions cycle. Clearing is aimed at applicants who are unplaced through the normal application process and who are trying to find a place to start a course in the forthcoming September.
You must pay an additional fee to UCAS to be entered into Clearing. Eligible Clearing applicants may approach institutions to see if they have vacancies on their courses. The main time for Clearing activity tends to be once A Level and other post-16 qualification results are released during the Summer.
You can also watch UCAS's guide to completing applications.