(Original post by Paulwhy)
UCAS Adjustment: What is it?
The idea is to help students who either did better than expected or under applied. This is what Angela Milln (Director of Student Recruitment, Access and Admissions University of Bristol) said in the UCAS Newsletter (which is directed to school teachers) in January 2009:
“Have you ever found yourself trying to advise a student who has been that bit too cautious in their UCAS choices? Maybe someone who underestimated their abilities and then emerged clutching a string of A grades and a nagging sense of disappointment that they didn’t set their sights higher? If so, you’ll be relieved to hear that a new alternative is now on offer – the opportunity to submit a fresh application following results publication, while at the same time protecting the original firm choice offer.”
What is confirmed by UCAS?
Very little information has been sent directly to students. The only official communication has been via the UCAS Website flowchart (UCAS flowchart):
“If applicant achieves better grades than required for their firmly accepted offer, they may look for an alternative course that has places available whilst still holding their original choice. Full details of the process will be available closer to the time.”
This is because communication so far has been from UCAS to Unis and Schools rather than from UCAS to applicants.
Are the sources reliable?
I have found and used the following sources (in brackets I have given how I will refer to those sources in the rest of the FAQ):
1) Notts design for computer system (Notts)
ADoM is a JISC funded project led by the University of Nottingham, Centre for International ePortfolio Development in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University, UCAS and APS Ltd.
design for software that will run the system
2) UCAS newsletter January 2009 (Bristol)
Director of Student Recruitment, Access and Admissions University of Bristol
3) Laura Kishore, Academic Registrar (Reading)
4) Steve Smith Chair of the England and Northern Ireland Council, Universities UK and Vice-Chancellor, Exeter University (Exeter)
5) Chief Executive UCAS Anthony McClaran (Chief)
http://22.214.171.124/search?q=cachewww.hepi.ac.uk/downloads/DevelopmentsinHEApplicationsandA dmissions-AnthonyMcClaran.ppt+ucas+adjustm ent+period&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=8&gl =uk
6) Cambridge submission to the consultation exercise (Cambridge)
7) Government response to consultation (May 2006) (DCSF)
http://126.96.36.199/search?q=cachewww.dcsf.gov.uk/consultations/downloadableDocs/Improving%2520the%2520HE%2520App lications%2520Process%2520-%2520Government%2520Response%252 0(Word).doc+ucas+adjustment+peri od&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=41&gl=u
The quantity and quality of these sources mean that whilst some details are uncertain, we can be certain it is happening. Note sources are potentially talking in an individual capacity and hence their views may not represent an official institution specific viewpoint (despite me using the university name as a reference).
Who is eligible?
Students who exceeded their offer
(Originally discussion was on students who surpassed their predicted being eligible but does not look like that is happening now).
Bristol “Only applicants holding a conditional firm offer who meet and exceed the academic conditions of that offer will be eligible. Once the firm choice institution confirms an offer as unconditional, eligible applicants will have five calendar days to seek and secure an adjustment place. To do this, they will need to register using UCAS Track and, at the same time, contact admissions offices direct to seek out vacancies (much as Clearing applicants do). If an applicant doesn’t secure a place within this timeframe, their original firm choice will stand.Alternatively if they secure a new offer, they will become ‘unconditional firm’ with the new institution, relinquishing the original firm choice.”
If I apply through Adjustment do I risk losing my Firmed place?
Can my firm uni stop me?
(except by not firming you and that sounds a bit paranoid to me!)
If I meet my offer can my Firm uni dump me and take someone else through Adjustment?
No if you meet your offer your uni still has to take you
Will many students benefit from the Adjustment system?
Not many as it is believed that only a few students better their offers.
Exeter “only 827 students on a 36,000 student survey will do better than expected enough to change institution.”
DCSF "We do not intend to create a system in which there is very high demand for a small number of places. We acknowledge that exam results are only one of several factors that determine which place a student takes up. For us, the likely consequence of this is that few students will want to change their first firm conditional offer, even if they achieve higher grades than required. Some will, as now, opt to take a gap-year and re-apply, as pre-qualified students, in the following year. We are also clear that some high demand courses which are already oversubscribed are unlikely to have many vacancies for new, post exam results, applications."
Chief “Scale of the issue is unknown but is thought to be applicable only to a small number of people.”
Notts “It is estimated that from the 500,000 or so applying annually through UCAS, the number of applicants eligible for this process would be in the hundreds.”
The uni places that go to students through Adjustment this year what would have happened to those places in previous years?
i) Free Agents (students not holding any UCAS offers and hence who don;t need to be released from a uni)
e.g. students who were planning a GAP year or had got 5 rejections and did not find anything in EXTRA.
ii)Students who missed their grades
Cambridge "There is a risk that many more of the students who just miss their offers are disadvantaged by the process, should institutions decide to be unscrupulous and wait to see what applications they receive for adjustment. These students could find that they are kept waiting for a decision and therefore miss opportunities in clearing. It is likely that the 'just missed' group of students is much larger than those genuinely wanting to move because they have exceeded their offer"
Am I guaranteed a place at a “better” uni?
Absolutely not. Indeed making PQA (Post Qualification Application) easier does not create any new places.
Cambridge: "The possibility of raising expectations in students which may not be able to be met. The process will not be able to create more places in very competitive courses, and therefore there will inevitably be dissatisfaction amongst some students."
Adjustment is ‘just’ a matching service between students who beat their offers and unis with places. It is not a place creation scheme.
What about if I missed my Firm offer but got my insurance offer am eligible for UCAS Adjustment?
No sorry you are not
Bristol “Those with insurance ….offers will not qualify”
What about if I had an unconditional offer?
No you are not eligible.
Bristol “Those with …original unconditional offers will not qualify”
How long is Adjustment open for?
Adjustment is only open for 5 calendar days. So all adjustment transactions need to be completed by 25th August
“Applicant registers on Track (by 25th August)
Applicant contacts institutions to find whether there are Adjustment vacancies
(2 possible outcomes)
- Applicant receives and accepts Unconditional offer through Adjustment; Applicant now placed at “adjustment” institution
Applicant does not receive offer through Adjustment within 5 days; Applicant remains placed at original Firm institution
All takes place within 5 days of publication of A-level results or of applicant becoming UF”
(Note the original source said 31st August but I am assuming that is a typo!)
Which unis will be using Adjustment?
Highly unlikely that the very very best unis for each subject will be in Adjustment as:
1) hardly anyone refuses offers from them
2) those unis will not be making offers to students who will not be reaching their offers.
So that means Cambridge and Oxford in any subject plus those unis that rival them for specific subjects (e.g. LSE for economics) will not be in Adjustment.
But all the rest some chance
Think about offers
lace ratios. In economics these are 600:180 at UCL (which is top 5 for econ).
So even at unis that are top 5 (but not in the top 2 or 3) a lot of applicants don't take up offers.This induces a high degree of variability in the number of students who end up accepting offers at those unis: So in the last couple of years in economics:
UCL, Warwick 40% excess of students with places on Results Days
Notts 40% excess
Warwick did not have enough students so took a few students through informal clearing
What do you mean by informal clearing?
This is when on Results Day unis are not listed in The Independent newspaper or on the UCAS website as being in clearing but are making offers to students who ring up.
How many unis will be looking for people?
Hard to say as:
i)Past evidence is only for formal clearing through UCAS and Independent
ii) Informal clearing also exists but by it’s very nature is not formalised and recorded.
iii) Adjustment will have an impact this year.
Bristol: “The vacancy picture may fluctuate. Courses without vacancies may develop them later as ‘firm’ applicants move elsewhere”. So this could induce a wave of vacancies down the league tables.
Why are you telling us now?
If you miss Firm or Insurance choices you are less likely to get in now as other students can getin via adjustment. Hence should think about how conservative you are with your selections (esp with Insurance)
Should I,if I get the opportunity should I go for a higher offer uni?
Not necessarily. If you are transferring you want to be making an informed choice. So transferring from uni X to uni Y if you applied to/researched deeply/visited uni Y is one thing. Conversly if you don’t even know where uni Y is in the UK is another.
Bristol “Adjustment isn’t compulsory and not everyone will want to pursue an alternative. Nothing really beats careful research earlier in the year and no-one wants to see students flattered into eleventh hour changes which they later regret”
Finally one practical issue is the question of accommodation. i.e. if you adjust will you end up with no longer be guaranteed university accommodation and hence up in poor quality accommodation.