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Accepting offers through UCAS: firm and insurance acceptances

If you’ve applied for an undergraduate course through UCAS and have received offers from institutions you’ve applied to, it’s important to carefully consider your decision about which offers to accept.  Once you’ve made your decision about accepting offers as a firm or insurance choices, you cannot change this.

Firm acceptances

When you accept an offer as your firm choice, this is your preferred choice of course and University.  Accepting an unconditional offer as your firm choice then binds you to going to that university only for the course you have been offered a place on.

Accepting a conditional offer as your firm choice enables you to state your preference of the University and course you want to go to out of any offers you may have received.

Insurance acceptances

If you are made a conditional offer, you can also accept a second offer as an insurance choice. You’re not obliged to accept an offer as an insurance choice, but doing so provides you with the opportunity to have a back-up in case you don’t meet the conditions of offer for your firm choice.  

Some points to consider when accepting a conditional offer as an insurance choice

  • If you are choosing a conditional offer as an insurance choice, you could think about selecting an offer with lower entry conditions than your firm choice. For example, if your firm choice offer asks for 280 points, you might consider accepting an offer of 260 points or below as your insurance choice. Whilst it is possible to select an insurance choice offer which is the same as, or higher than, your firm choice offer, where will this leave you if you don’t meet the conditions of your first choice offer? You could potentially end up without anything to fall back on as you won’t have met the conditions for your insurance choice either!
  • You could think about selecting an unconditional offer (if you have one) as your insurance choice. That way, if you don’t meet the conditions of your firm choice, you won’t have to worry about whether or not you have met the conditions for your insurance choice.
  • Whatever choice you make, you need to be realistic about the course and university you are accepting as an insurance choice – if you don’t meet the conditions of offer for your firm choice and meet the conditions of offer for your insurance choice, you are bound to go to that university. Make sure you’ve visited the university and found out as much information as possible before making your decision. Remember, you could potentially end up studying there if you don’t get into your first choice university.
  • You don’t have to accept a second offer as an insurance choice if you don’t wish to. You can just choose one offer as your firm choice. However, a carefully chosen insurance place can provide some flexibility in the event that you don’t meet the conditions of offer set by your firm choice.

Important dates for replying to offers in 2011

If UCAS has received all decisions from your university or college choices by 31st March, you’ll need to reply to any offers by 5th May 2011 (unless you live outside the EU or you are applying through Extra). If UCAS don’t receive your replies, they will decline your offers on your behalf.

If UCAS has received all decisions from your university or college choices by 6th May, you’ll need to reply to any offers by 7th June 2011 (unless you are applying through Extra). If UCAS don’t receive your replies, they will decline your offers on your behalf.

How to… decide which offer to accept

So you’ve received offers on your application choices. For some the decision of which one to accept is easy, but what if you’re still unsure of which one to accept? Is there anything you can do to help you make this important decision?

Have you had the opportunity to visit the universities you’ve applied to yet? If not, then why not contact them to find out if there are open days or visit days that you can attend. These events often provide a useful means of finding out more about the course you’ve applied to and the university environment itself. If the universities you’ve applied to are in other cities to your hometown, it also gives you the chance to have a look round the area and get a feel for whether it is somewhere that you’d like to spend the next three or four years!

Do you have any questions about the course that you feel you really need to ask before making your decision? Admissions Tutors and advice staff within universities are ready to help prospective students who need further information and help and understand the complexities faced when making such an important, and potentially life-changing, decision. Contact them – they’re there to help you and can provide you with additional information that may help you to weigh up your options. Here at Birmingham City University, the Choices team are here to help. Call us on 0121 331 5595 or email choices@bcu.ac.uk.