UCAS, A Levels and University Choices unravelled!

This time of year is pressurised for a lot of students in the build-up to exams and then the wait for results especially where A Level results will have an impact on UCAS offers for University.  For many their future may even hinge on the A Level results and helping your son/daughter unravel what to do next is all part of the parcel for thousands of parents and guardians as well as other professionals over the coming months.  Ostensibly as a parent it is a time when emotions may well be running high, when the adrenalin is starting to surge and when the unknown is rearing its head!  The key to survival, as a parent, at this time, however, rests in the ability to retain emotional control, putting asides personal agendas and helping to focus on the important next steps that will best suit your son/daughter.

In this post we will focus on all things UCAS and what those next steps may well incur:

1.  January A Level Module/Re-sit Results

Firstly with the January A Level module and AS re-sit results now in, any improvements in grades for the AS’s can be e-mailed to the admission tutors at the universities that have been selected.

2.  Accepting University Offers through UCAS

All offers for 2012 applications to universities by now should have been made and students informed and first and second choices should have been decided upon and accepted through the UCAS system.  The deadline for this was 9th May.  CF (firm acceptance choice) and CI (insurance choice) university will have been decided upon and all other offers declined.


If however, your son/daughter has found themselves without offers or wishes to change their course, there is a process called UCAS EXTRA which allows further choices (one at a time) to be made.  This facility is open until 4th July 2012.  Courses which still have vacancies will be listed on the UCAS website with the annotation ‘x’ after the course title.

Please note, not all courses are available in ‘Extra’ and availability should be directly researched with the Universities and Colleges.

4.  Student Finance for University
The deadline for student finance applications is 31st May 2012 to be guaranteed the money at the start of the course is rapidly approaching!  To apply for student finance, use the website http://www.direct.gov.uk and read our post at https://resetparenting.wordpress.com/2012/03/14/the-lowdown-on-student-finance/.

5.  A Level Results Day – Thursday 16th August 2012

In the early hours of A Level results day you will be able to find out from the UCAS website if CF and CI place has been successful even though you will not yet have been informed of the A Level results.  Most schools will make their own arrangements for students to collect these so make sure you know where and when your son/daughter can collect theirs.

Students who do not get the grades they need will automatically be placed by UCAS into an electronic Clearing System.  Vacancies at universities are listed in The Independent newspaper and on the UCAS website.

Most schools too will be available to advise, support and help but critically it will be your son/daughter that will need to contact the Admission Tutors directly to discuss their options and suitability for any alternative course and the possibility of attending an interview.  Students will their UCAS need their UCAS number to hand so that the institution they are considering can view their application online, so make sure they have their UCAS number with them on results day.

It is critical that students who feel they have underperformed in the summer exams research vacancies and speak to Admission tutors in July.  This will enable them to enter clearing at an advantage, knowing what and where they want to study.   This can happen across the ability range!

If accepted, the University notifies UCAS and the student receives confirmation of their place.

6.  UCAS Adjustment
If your son/daughter receives higher grades than required for their firm offer and wants to consider another institution, they can look for an alternative course whilst still retaining their original choice.  This is only available for up to five days from when the place is confirmed!  Should they wish t do tis, they must register through “Track” on the UCAS website.  Please remember though that accommodation and finance may be more difficult to arrange with last minute changes!

7.  Special Consideration (A Level Exams)
If your son/daughter experiences personal problems during the exam period, contact their school directly so that “special consideration” procedures can be implemented.

If your son/daughter has experienced ongoing problems during the school year, whether health or personal, and feels this has affected their preparation and/or performance in the examinations, the school can write to the CF and CI universities explaining the problem but this must happen in June/July!  Universities will not accept such correspondence in August but they will keep the information on file and consider it once the A Level results are known.  To do this the school will need:

  • UCAS number
  • Their chosen university course
  • The name of the Admissions tutor (if possible)
  • The address of the institution
  • Covering letters/evidence of the problem to photocopy and send to the admission’s tutor.

Hopefully this will help you with what at first sights seems a complicated system and can be quite daunting, especially for parents who are helping their sons/daughters through it for the first time.  Further information is available on the parent’s section of the UCAS website http://www.ucas.com

UCAS, A Levels and University

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