Expert tips to help you get a decision from your university
By now, you know your A-level results - and you should also know whether you've got into uni.
But what if your university is still leaving you hanging, with your application showing as Conditional Firm on Track?
We spoke to TSR member PQ, who works at a university, to put together some advice on what you can do if your university still hasn’t made a decision.
More like this: Ucas Track on results day 2020
Why am I being held as Conditional Firm?
There are a few reasons for being held as Conditional Firm. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to see what the reason is just by looking in Track.
PQ told us that the possible reasons are:
- The university is deferring confirmation until after the optional autumn A-level exams or you get the results of an appeal. This year, universities are allowed to defer a conditional offer until the exams have been sat in October, but the only way they can do this is by leaving you as Conditional Firm on Track.
- The university did not receive all of your results.
- The university does have your results and it has made a decision, but it hasn’t sent its decision to Ucas yet.
- The university has your results and, while it can’t offer you a place on your firm choice course, it would like to offer you an alternative course but it needs to speak to you first.
- The university is waiting to see what kind of applicants come through Clearing before it decides whether or not to accept you onto the course.
It’s also worth remembering that if you’re showing as Conditional Firm but you know you have met the conditions of your course, don’t worry. You will have been accepted.
In this case, if Track still hasn’t changed to Unconditional, ring up the university just to make sure it has received your results.
Call the university to find out what’s going on
To find out which of these reasons apply to you, you’ll need to give the university a call. PQ advises asking the university these questions:
- Have you received all my results?
- Have you made a decision yet about whether to accept me?
- If yes: when will this decision be sent to Ucas?
- If no: do you need any more information from me to help you make a decision? At this point, you should tell them whether or not you plan to sit the autumn exams and also mention any alternative courses at their university that you might be interested in.
- When do you expect to make a decision?
If the person you’re speaking to says the decision will take longer than 24 hours, you should ask to speak to someone more senior. When they come on the phone, ask this person why they are delaying the decision.
The reason why it’s important for the decision not to take too long is because you don’t want to risk losing out on any more Clearing options, if the university ultimately decides not to offer you a place.
You can either wait for the university to decide, or ask them to reject you
Once you’ve spoken to the university and found out why you’re being held on Conditional Firm, you’ll be able to decide to either wait for them to make a decision or ask them to reject you so you can accept your insurance or start to look at universities in Clearing.
If you’re not happy with the reason you’re being held and you’d rather not wait around, you can ask them to reject you as soon as possible.
And if they agree to reject you right away, PQ says that this means there’s a very high chance that they were planning to reject you at some point in the next few days anyway.
Whichever you decide to do, it’s worth taking a look at the universities and courses that are still available in Clearing to start getting an idea of what options are out there.
How to use Clearing
Clearing is a way for universities and colleges to fill the places they have left on their courses – there are thousands of places available, with plenty of them at highly ranked universities.
Here’s where you’ll find all of our Clearing content.
Appealing your calculated grades
You will only be able to appeal your results if you think an administrative error was made with your grade – for example, your name was mixed up with someone else’s and the wrong grade was entered into the system.
If you think this might have happened, you’ll need to ask your school or college to open an appeal on your behalf. The deadline for submitting an appeal is 17 September, and your grade will be protected so it definitely won’t go down.
Alternatively, if you think you were affected by bias or discrimination, the first thing to do is speak to your school or college and raise a complaint through them. If that does not solve the issue, you could consider going to the exam board.
“It is important to remember that this would not be an appeal, but rather an allegation that malpractice or maladministration occurred in relation to your centre assessment grade(s) or rank order position(s). Such allegations would be serious, and taken seriously,” Ofqual has said in its guidance on appeals and malpractice.
If you think that you might have the grounds for an appeal, you can find out more about what you need to do here.
Sitting the optional autumn exams
The optional autumn exams will run from Monday 5 October to Friday 23 October, with results expected on Thursday 17 December – here are links to all of the exam boards’ autumn exam timetables.
Exams will be offered for all subjects that should have run in the summer, and the deadline for entry into the exams is 4 September – although you should also check with your school, as they may have set their own deadline.
If you do decide to take the autumn exams and you get a lower mark than your calculated grade, you’ll get to keep the higher one instead.
Reapplying for university next year
If you prefer, you could always choose to take a year out and make a new application in 2021. This would give you loads of time to take the autumn exams, or even next summer’s resits.
Take a look at our guide to A-level retakes, resits and the optional autumn exam series.