Changing university via Adjustment: what you need to know

Adjustment was a Ucas process that ran up until 2021 but has now been cancelled. As Adjustment no longer exists, the following article is just for reference.

A Ucas spokesperson says, “Adjustment will no longer be available from 2022 entry, but students who wish to change universities at confirmation can use ‘Decline My Place’ to enter Clearing and, if they use Clearing Plus, they will be signposted to relevant universities with spaces whose entry requirements match the student’s results.”


Many students don't know about Adjustment - but if your A-level results come as a pleasant surprise you might find it can help you 'trade up' to a higher-ranked university. 

Ucas Adjustment is a process that's available to anyone who exceeds the grade requirements of their firm offer. If that ends up being you, you can use Adjustment to swap your existing uni place for one at another university.

Read on to find out how Ucas Adjustment works and what you need to think about before using it.

How Adjustment works

What is Adjustment? 

It's a way of switching your choice of uni after you get your results. Adjustment is run by Ucas, and it makes it possible for all eligible students to swap their confirmed university place for one at another university, should they wish.

Who can use it? 

You can - if your A-level results 'meet and exceed' your conditional firm offer, that is. So let's say uni X offered you a place if you got AAB, and you ended up getting AAA. You could then use Adjustment to find a place at uni Y instead, without risking your place at your original choice.

How do I do it? 

Grab the phone. You'll need to call up any universities you're thinking of swapping to, and find out whether they have places available via Ucas Adjustment. If you're offered a place, have a think about it and then get back to them to confirm you'd like to take it.

They will update your Ucas Track screen, which will show that you're now swapped onto the new course. If you want time to think about an Adjustment offer, it's important to make sure the uni offering you that place understands this, because once the uni has put the offer on your Track, your original firm will be automatically cancelled, and you won't be able to change your mind.

Might I lose my existing uni place? 

While you are looking for a place in Adjustment, you keep your existing uni place. If you try Adjustment but don't find anything, you keep the place you already have.

The number of people using Adjustment each year is fairly low. In 2019, just 590 students gained a university place through Adjustment. That's a drop of 33% from 2018 - a fall that Ucas suggests is probably because it became easier for students to 'self-release' into Clearing in 2019.

Remember: you're eligible for Adjustment if you exceed the terms of your firm offer in full, including any specified subject grade requirements. However, the final decision about whether or not you have exceeded your firm offer rests with the university you are speaking to about an Adjustment place.

Ucas Adjustment is a pretty brief process - you only get five days to find a place via Adjustment; after that your unconditional firm is automatically accepted. That means you need to move fast - but don't let that cloud your judgment.

Think carefully before using Adjustment

Adjustment gives you more options if you do well in your exams. But, don't rush into it. Just because you can go to a 'better' or more prestigious university, doesn't mean you should.

You're likely to have already spent a lot of time researching your chosen university in detail. You've probably met people on The Student Room who are also going there. You've probably sorted your accommodation and are already planning to move to your chosen uni in just a few short weeks.

If you decide to swap over another uni, all that preparation goes out the window. You might not be eligible for accommodation at the new university. Even if you are eligible to apply, there may not be an accommodation guarantee. You'll probably also be ineligible for bursaries and tuition fee discounts targeted at students who enter via the 'normal' application route.

And you might lose any accommodation deposits you've already paid at your original firm university.

Every year, we see students who made quick decisions in Clearing and Adjustment come back to The Student Room in the autumn because they want to reapply. If you leave a course, you'll still be expected to pay tuition fees, accommodation bills and any other costs for the academic year.

None of this is intended to put you off using Adjustment: it might be absolutely the right decision for you. However, you need to make sure you're aware of the potential downsides - as well as the benefits - and that you have discussed them with someone who knows what they're talking about, such as an adviser at your school or college.

The Student Room's advice on Adjustment

  • Think about logistics – accommodation, student finance and travel. Ask the university what you will be eligible for before you commit as their information online may not be accurate for Clearing/Adjustment applicants. If a university representative seems unsure or doesn't know the answers to your questions then push them to put you in contact with someone who can tell you where you stand for certain.
  • Research the course content. No two courses are identical and what is covered in a psychology degree at one university may be completely different to another university.
  • Remember that just because a university looks fantastic on paper, or has a high ranking in the league tables, that doesn't mean it is necessarily a good fit for you. You have completely different requirements to other people.
  • Go and visit the universities. Many will have open weekends on 15/16 August and there may be funding available to help with travel costs.
  • Do not be pressured into making a decision before you’re ready. Once you have told a university that you plan to accept their Adjustment offer they will process this change on Ucas Track. You will then lose your original firm choice.
  • Stay in control of your situation. Do not let your parents/siblings/school contact universities on your behalf.
  • Consider a gap year. This will open up all Ucas avenues to you along with giving you much more time to make a life-changing decision.