Help! I’m having second thoughts about my uni choice

Thinking about changing your choice of university? Here are your options

Switching university choice at a late stage is more common that you might think. It's probably easier than you might think, too.

But, is it the right thing to do? You'll already have done a massive amount of research while deciding your current firm and insurance options. Do you really want to switch?

We spoke to Rachel Leighton, head of UK recruitment at the University of Roehampton, who shared this advice.

"Think carefully if you’re considering changing your firm choice between now and A-level results day,” says Rachel. “This is not a decision you want to make on a whim.

"Changing your firm choice may mean extra leg work such as updating your student finance application and applying for accommodation at your new university. 

"But if you’re confident that you can get these bits sorted, then go for it. At the end of the day, you need to be happy with your choice.”

If your heart is set on making a change, what happens next depends on your timing. You can often swap a university choice up until 23 July 2020 - depending on when you replied to your offers. After that date, you'll have to wait until A-level results day.

This article covers a range of different scenarios. Tap one that's relevant to you to read more...

"I chose my firm and insurance within the last 14 days. Can I still change these?"

Yes. If you accepted your offers in the last 14 days you can change your firm choice, your insurance choice - or both. Contact Ucas directly and speak to an adviser. They will be able to make the changes to your replies for you. Ucas calls this a 'reply swap'.

If you accepted your offers more than 14 days ago, the process is a bit longer - but it may still be possible with the agreement of the relevant universities. More on this below.

Either way, the deadline for making these swaps is 23 July 2020.

"What can I do if I chose my firm and insurance more than 14 days ago?"

Switching your choices may still be possible if you start the process before that 23 July deadline. 

By that date, all the universities involved must have notified Ucas and Ucas must have actioned the swap. If the process is not complete by that date, you will have to wait until A-level results day.

So, if you're seriously considering swapping, you should start the process at least a week in advance of the deadline. Also, bear in mind that if you declined an offer some time ago, the places on that course may now have been filled.

1. What should I do first?

Contact the admissions team at the university you'd now like to make your firm (or insurance). You won’t be able to swap unless they are still willing (and able) to offer you a place.

You're best off phoning first and following up with an email confirming you’d like to make the change. Explain your situation including why you have changed your mind.

If they can still make you an offer, ask them to confirm it in writing to you and send this to Ucas as proof.

2. Contact your current university choice and explain

Once you've got confirmation that you can get the place you want, you need to let your firm choice know - either that you’d like to decline their offer completely or make them your insurance.

Contact their admissions team, explain that you have changed your mind and explain what you would like to do next. If they agree to let you change your reply, ask them to confirm this in an email to you.

3. Contact Ucas and let them know what you would like to do

Phone Ucas and explain the situation. They can provide further advice and will make the swap for you once the universities have emailed their agreement. 

"I want to do a different course, but it's at the same university, can I change it?"

Possibly. Start by contacting the university; ask them to consider you for the new course. Explain why you want to change and be prepared to be asked to write a new personal statement.

Minor changes, such as swapping courses within the same faculty, are usually easiest. But it will be difficult (and often impossible) to change to something completely different. Don't get too excited about your chances of swapping from history into medicine, for instance.

“Changing the course you’ve been accepted onto sounds simple, but it can vary between universities,” says Rachel. 

“Some courses or universities need you to have qualifications in certain subjects which means it isn’t always straightforward. 

“The best thing to do is to take a look at the website and then give the university’s admissions team a call.” 

If the university agrees to make the course change, get them to email their agreement to Ucas. You won't contact Ucas about this directly - the university needs to do that for you. A Ucas adviser can then make the course change in Track.

If the university can't - or won't - make you a new offer on the course you prefer, you might decide to go elsewhere. That might mean being released from your offer to get a place via Clearing, or it might mean swapping your replies. 

Some students start uni and then ask to swap courses. This is a really risky path. Just because you're now a student, it doesn't mean your uni will definitely let you change. If you decide to try this, time is of the essence.

“‘You need to act fast after you arrive,” says Rachel. “The quicker you make the decision to swap courses, the more likely the university is to be able to say ‘yes’.

“If you do this later, then you will likely have missed too much teaching on the other course to be able to make the swap.”

"I now want to study a different subject at a different uni. What can I do?"

If you've only recently submitted your Ucas application, you might be able to change the choices on your form. Within 14 days of the date on your welcome email from Ucas, you can swap any of your choices. You can swap each choice once, and you can only do this up to 30 June 2020. 

You'll want to be sure there are places on your newly chosen courses. Places start being allocated from the 15 January deadline onwards - so after this date, contact the relevant university first to check they will consider your application.

If it's been more than 14 days since you received your welcome email, and you no longer want to accept any of your offers, you can take a look at Extra or Clearing.

Ucas Extra is available until 5 July 2020. Before you can use Extra you will need to inform Ucas and your firm and insurance choices that you now want to change your replies and change them all to declines so that you can apply to a different university/course. 

Now you have declined all offers you should be free to add in an additional choice on Track. Again, make sure you contact the new university to ensure they have places still available at this stage. You can read all about Ucas Extra in our article.

If you miss the 5 July deadline you can decline your offers and release yourself into Clearing, ready for results day. To do this, use the 'decline your place' button on Track. You'll then be free to look for offers in Clearing.

"Can I change my firm and insurance after 23 July 2020?"

Once the deadline on reply swaps has passed, you'll have to wait until A-level results day before getting any changes confirmed.

If you are convinced that another of your offers is now right for you, talk to the university beforehand and check they would be happy to take you if you meet their offer. If they're happy and have confirmed, speak to your firm and explain the situation. 

Inform Ucas of your intention and ensure that the relevant universities speak to each other ahead of results day to ensure this happens.

"Can I get out of my unconditional offer on results day?"

Once your firm offer becomes unconditional on results day, your only option is to be released straight into Clearing. 

If you want to go to your insurance then you'll need to ask them if they will admit you through Clearing once you've been released. Be quick with this. “Call your insurance choice as soon as you can to see if they will take you,” says Rachel.

You might instead want to look for alternative courses in Clearing. Either way, you decline your unconditional offer by using the 'decline your place' button on Track.

Contacting universities

Whenever you're contacting universities, the best thing to do is phone. Emails can sometimes wait a while before getting a response.

Whenever you phone either universities or Ucas ask for and write down:

  • the name of the person you're speaking to
  • their job title
  • what you asked
  • what they said would happen next
  • the phone number, time and date you called

If you do phone and they tell you to email then ask for a specific person to address it to. Once you've sent it, phone back to check that it has got through.

Make sure you know your Ucas number. If you have been given any other candidate numbers by the uni, make sure you know those too. The more relevant information you can provide, the easier the process becomes.

About our sponsor

Roehampton logo

The University of Roehampton is London’s campus university and is renowned for its broad range of expertise across teacher training, business, social sciences, the arts and humanities, as well as human and life sciences, with world-leading and internationally-recognised research in these fields. 

If you have changed your mind about where and what you want to study, you can find more advice at www.roehampton.ac.uk/clearing

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