Choosing your Firm and Insurance is an important decision and it is worth taking time over it
Don't let worries such as missing out on accommodation choices bounce you into making a hasty decision that you may repent at leisure, and perhaps at length on TSR
See also TSR Wiki: Firm and insurance choices
, and the uni and course specific forums.
The most commonly asked questions are covered below, but I will add to it if/as other questions crop up.
Everyone gets a letter from UCAS confirming their personal deadline, once all decisions are in. Check here for the deadlines that apply: Replying to Offers
. Your personal reply deadline is also shown on your Track.
I've missed my deadline for making my choices, what shall I do?
Ring UCAS immediately and ask for advice.
I don't understand my offer/s!
If you are not sure what you can count towards meeting your offer and what you can't (most common with tariff based offers) email
the uni to request clarification. That way you have a record of what you were told, should you need it come Results Day.
How do I decide?
It is essential
to visit. However wonderful the course, however “prestigious” the university, if you hate the place it is not the right choice for you
Things to consider include:
- are you happy with the compulsory modules?
- how much choice do you get, and when?
- what if it turns out that the module options that interest you are not available for your year? Are there alternatives that you would be happy with?
How realistic is it that you will get the grades you need? Don’t assume the worst, but on the other hand it is worth revisiting your predictions in the light of module/resit results from January.
In general, your firm should have higher conditions than your insurance. For instance, AAA not including GS is more demanding than AAA in any subject. If you have additional requirements such as STEP or AEA grades, then an offer which doesn't specify these is worth having as an insurance, even if the headline A2 grade requirements are the same. Check out the Wiki article linked above for more on this.
A point to bear in mind is how flexible your unis might be about taking you if you miss your offer, as this varies considerably. In recent years, many 'near miss' applicants have been turned down, especially for competitive courses at highly ranked unis. This should be an important consideration when choosing your insurance, if your offers are all very high. Nevertheless, if you are completely sure that you do not want to go the uni making you a lower offer, there is no point in putting it down, as it just causes problems later by preventing you from getting quickly into Clearing.
This will be the third year when the Adjustment Period
will be available, when people who have exceeded their offers are given a brief opportunity to look around and see if they can "trade up". This can mean that people who have just missed offers will have to wait a little longer to find out whether their uni will take them anyway, while unis check out the Adjustment applicants. It is worth pointing out that fewer than 400 people used this route successfully in 2009 (the first year) and 2010 (see UCAS data here
). The UCAS guide to Adjustment is here.
If you think you could be eligible to be an Adjustment applicant (eg your probable firm offer is ABB but you are expecting to achieve AAA) it is still important to make your choices on the basis that you are choosing your definite firm/insurance unis. There is no certain way to predict which courses/which unis will be offering to take Adjustment applicants, and even if the one you fancy is 'available' your application may not be accepted. So, it is definitely not
a good idea to assume that you will be able to change your firm if you exceed their offer.
Other useful things to do:
- ask around (but don’t believe everything you read on TSR!)
- try and find the student handbook for current undergraduates – the style and structure of this can tell you quite a bit about the Department, much more than is in the standard prospectus.
- check out the Students' Union and Residences sections of the uni website
- ask your parents/school for their advice – yes, really! You don’t have to take it, but you might be surprised by what they say.
You do not have to have an Insurance choice: you can’t anyway if your Firm is unconditional, or if you are an Extra applicant, but - I'll say it again - there is no point picking an Insurance if you have no intention of going there (this saves a lot of hassle later).
Do I have to pick my Firm and Insurance at the same time?
Yes. You can't pick a Firm and go back to choose an Insurance later.
I'm trying to make my Firm and Insurance choices and the system won't let me.
Are you sure all your decisions are in? If you have an application pending you don't have to make your Firm/Insurance choices yet. If you are really really sure that you don't want to wait for that last decision, cancel the choice and you should find that you can select your Firm/Insurance offers and decline any others. Whatever you do, make very sure that you are not withdrawing your whole application; if in doubt, ring UCAS before
you do anything!
Can I change my mind?
When you have made your choices, UCAS will send you a letter confirming them so that you can check the details are correct, and if anything is wrong you have 14 days to make any amendments. After that, at least in theory, your choices are final, and it is better to work on that basis.
If you have second thoughts about your choices either before you get your confirmation letter from UCAS or within 14 days of receiving it, you can make changes. A common one is to switch over your Firm and Insurance. Some people on here seem to have been able to retrieve offers they declined, but it would be unwise to assume this is always possible (and if it is, it will only
be during this 14 day 'cooling off' period).
After the 14 day period, it is possible to switch your existing firm and insurance choices around, if both unis agree
. Start by contacting UCAS and then get on to the universities, starting with the one you want to be your firm, because if they say 'no' then there's no point in contacting the other. You can ask for this change any time up until Track closes down about a week before Results Day.
Otherwise, after the 14 days you are committed and the only way you can get out of it is by the uni/s concerned rejecting/releasing you (see below).
Can I decide on Results Day which uni I want to go to, if I have met both my Firm and Insurance offers?
No: if you have met the offer conditions for your Firm, or you missed your offer but they decided to accept you anyway, you can’t decide to go to your Insurance instead. If you really don’t want to go your Firm, you either withdraw altogether, or persuade them to release you, in which case you will become eligible for Clearing, not for your Insurance place. The exception to this is if on Results Day you have missed your offer and they haven't yet decided about you
(ie your offer is still showing as conditional firm), you can ask them to reject
you immediately so that your insurance becomes your firm automatically.
However, if your Firm accepts you but for a different
course you don’t have to accept it and can take your Insurance place/go into Clearing instead.
Can I carry an offer over to next year?
No. You can only reapply next year if you have withdrawn completely from this year’s UCAS round.
I’ve decided I would like to defer entry until 2012.
You will need to ask the uni if they would be prepared to consider this. If they are, they will tell UCAS for you.
I want to change course at my Firm/Insurance.
Contact the uni for advice; it is sometimes possible to do this. If the uni agrees to make a change, they will notify UCAS accordingly.
I’m happy with my course choice but want to change uni.
You will only be able to do this by negotiating your rejection/release from your Firm and/or Insurance, preferably before Results Day so that you are ready for Clearing from Day 1.
I don’t want to go to my Firm any more: what can I do?
If you have decided this any time up to a week before Results Day, and you are holding a conditional offer, contact the uni and ask to be rejected (NOT released). You will need to provide some explanation. However, your insurance uni will need to be consulted too, as they may be worried about having too many applicants for the places they have. Technically they can refuse to accept you as a firm applicant, though this is unusual. If you don't want your insurance to become your firm, ask them to reject you as well.
If you end up holding neither a Firm nor an Insurance offer, you will be eligible for Clearing immediately on Results Day. Experience so far this year suggests that you will not be allowed to go through Extra even if you negotiate your rejection/release from your unis before the end of June - an important point to bear in mind if you are considering this option - because you have already replied to your offers even if you have subsequently asked to be rejected.
In the week leading up to Results Day, unis won’t talk to people as they are processing the exam results. Negotiating a release on or after Results Day can take time and is much better avoided. Remember that you are released into Clearing, not to your Insurance. Your insurance choice will only be able to take you as a Clearing applicant, and since they will have known for a couple of days at least that you met your firm offer, the place they were holding for you is very likely to have gone to someone else.
However, if you have decided that you don’t want to go to university at all this year, then withdraw your application altogether, by contacting UCAS.
I'm happy with my Firm but I don't want to go to my Insurance any more: what do I do?
If you have decided that whatever happens about your Firm you definitely don't want to go to your Insurance, and would rather go in to Clearing instead, you can ask to be rejected (if the offer is conditional)/released (if the offer is unconditional) before Results Day. You will need to contact the uni concerned direct to request this. If you decide on Results Day that you don't want to go to your insurance having missed your firm you will have to negotiate your release, as above.
I am waiting to see what grades I get before deciding whether to reapply for 2012.
Even if you meet the grades for your Firm and/or Insurance offer, you can decide on Results Day that you don’t want to go to university at all this year. In that case, it is courteous to let the uni concerned know that you won’t be taking up your place, and to do this quickly so that they can offer it to someone else. You will also need to let the Student Finance people know in that case, otherwise things could get complicated and cause you problems later.
If I decide not to take up my confirmed place, will I have to pay tuition fees?
Not unless you have actually enrolled on the course, and even then you get a few weeks' grace. However, if you have signed an accommodation agreement you could find that you are committed to pay anything up to a year's rent, so check before you sign anything that you are sure about your choice.
I made my choices on UCAS Track ages ago but I haven't heard anything from my Firm yet
This is completely normal. Some universities write to you with all sorts of things once they know you have picked them as your firm, others don't send you anything for months. As long as your Track/confirmation letter from UCAS is correct, you have nothing to worry about.
I'm really worried I won't make my grades; how likely is it that my Firm will let me in anyway?
No-one can say for sure, since even universities/courses that were lenient in previous years may not be this year, for all sorts of reasons.
When do I apply for Student Finance?
Check out the Getting Started
page at Direct Gov.
Changing your Mind
UCAS - Adjustment
UCAS Track on results day