How it works

Unless you have just been through the university application process with an older sibling, it can all seem confusing. (And even if you did all this a couple of years ago, it’s worth checking details as some things change from year to year.) So, in a nutshell… 

  • Your child will apply to up to five universities. (Five applications costs the same as two, so they might as well apply to five.)
  • The nominal application deadline is in January (or the previous October for Medicine courses), but in fact applications can still be made until a couple of weeks before Clearing (in August). 
  • Each university will respond in one of three ways:
    • Conditional offer: the student will be accepted if they meet specific requirements, which usually means certain A-level grades or equivalent.
    • Unconditional offer: the students is accepted straight off the bat. Normally these offers are made to students who already have their grades, ie. mature students or students who have been on a gap year. Sometimes an unconditional offer may be made to a student who does not yet have their grades, but who shows exceptional promise.
    • Unsuccessful: sorry.
  • When your child has all five responses, they will accept two offers: a first choice (‘Firm’) and a reserve (‘Insurance’).
  • When A-level Results Day arrives, depending on the news, they can confirm their Firm offer, or their Insurance offer.
  • If they don’t meet the grades for either offer – or choose not to confirm – they can apply to other universities through Clearing on Results Day.