Understanding university course offers

Once your son or daughter has submitted their UCAS application they will begin to receive offers of a place. The speed these offers come through will depend on the time of year and how quickly each university is able to process the applications.

Most universities will respond within a couple of weeks. These offers will be communicated through UCAS Hub so your son or daughter should check this regularly.

A response will be given for each course your son or daughter has applied for.

Types of university offers

There are several types of response that will come back via the UCAS Hub:

Unconditional offer – Congratulations, the university has accepted the application and the student is awarded a place on the course. Please note, the applicant may still be required to provide additional non-academic information/documentation so it is important to read through the UCAS Track messages carefully to see what’s required.

Conditional offer – The university would like to award the student a place on the course but certain conditions have to be met first. For instance, the applicant may have to achieve specific results in their A-levels/BTEC course.

Unsuccessful – Unfortunately, the university is unable to offer the applicant a place on the course.

Change of course – A university may offer an applicant a place to study on a similar course to the one they originally applied for.

Withdrawal – Students who change their mind and no longer wish to be considered for a course can withdraw their application. This will be marked as ‘withdrawal’ in UCAS Track.

Firm and insurance choice

When you son or daughter has received a response from all of their course options, they will be asked to narrow down the application by choosing two courses in the UCAS Hub:

Firm/First choice – This should be the course/university which your son or daughter would want most.

Insurance/Second choice – Ideally, this should be a course with slightly lower entry requirements compared to the first/firm choice course.

When they have confirmed their first and insurance choices, the other courses are removed from the UCAS application form.

Replying to your UCAS offers

Results day

If your son or daughter is studying BTECs then their results will be available in July.

If they are studying A-levels or a combination of the two then you may have to wait till August, when the A-level results are released, to find out if they have been offered a place at university.

Take a look at the UCAS video below to find out how you can prepare for the big day.


Sometimes the exam results a student receives are lower than they hoped for. If the results don’t meet the entry requirements for either the Firm or the Insurance choice, your son or daughter will not be offered a place on their chosen university course. If this is the case, don’t panic, there is still a chance they can secure a place at university.

Every August universities run a process called Clearing. During this time applications are reopened for courses where there are places left to fill. Students can then make new applications. Applicants who are offered a place through Clearing can still start their university course in September the same year.

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