What to do if your uni asks about your UCAS choices

Universities can’t view an applicant’s uni choices until they have made their firm and insurances choices.

UCAS has this rule in place to prevent the university from making a biased decision when making offers. This means that they also can’t ask you anything about your choices by email or during an interview. 

So what do you do if your unis ask you where else you’ve applied?

A couple of users on TSR found themselves in this exact situation. Here’s what to do if it happens to you. 

You’re asked about your other choices in the interview

Sparrows was asked about her other uni choices in an interview. “We spent more time talking about an offer I held more than anything else and they said things including 'I thought X uni was quite slow at replying to people' and 'I know a lot of people don't understand X uni course',” she explains. 

It can be really difficult being put in to this situation, but remember the interviewer is probably just making an honest mistake. “It's worth letting the admissions office know that this happened. It's very likely that the interviewer wasn't aware of the rules about invisibility of choices and so the admissions office need to do a bit of staff training,” explains PQ. 

“I suspect that this is someone who hasn't been properly trained by Admissions and who is worried about the number of applicants who will firm elsewhere,” agrees Origami Bullets. 

If you’re asked this question as part of your application correspondence

“One of the med schools I applied to above sent me an email requesting information about all my previous UCAS applications, including the one I made this year and to what other programmes and universities I applied to,” says TSR member soal. 

It can be distressing when you’re unexpectedly put in this situation, especially if you’re asked to reply to the email in order to continue with your application. ”I feel slighted, mistreated and robbed of my chances to attend this university,” says soal. 

So how do you reply? “I would suggest that you reply to the person who has emailed you with the information they requested but excluding the details about exactly which universities,” says PQ. That will allow you avoid confrontation as well as giving you some time to contact UCAS. “If they then come back and press you for specifics you should definitely involve UCAS,” says Minerva.

“You could claim that your college has advised you not to tell them and has said something about universities not being allowed to know where else you've applied to. That shifts the focus of who is being 'difficult' to your college, while protecting you from having to hand over the info,” says Origami Bullets. 

You’ll need to report the emails to UCAS so that they can get in contact with the university directly. Don’t worry about being a whistleblower: “It's not going to affect your selection because the university won't know it was you who reported them - they will have sent this email to everyone,” says Origami Bullets. “Chances are you won't be the only person to report them,” adds SlowlorisIncognito. 


What should you do if you’re asked?

We got in touch with UCAS for an official answer. 

“UCAS Admissions Guide states very clearly to all Higher Education Providers that they must not request information from applicants on their choices. Any applicant experiencing this behaviour from universities and colleges should contact UCAS straight away so that UCAS can take it up with the institution concerned,” says UCAS. 

Admissions teams should be aware that they are not allowed to request this information from you, so don’t be afraid to get in touch with UCAS and report them.

More on TSR: 
Are unis allowed to ask where else you've applied to? 
One my choices has asked me where else I've applied to 
Applying to uni help