Parents, carers and families

Jargon buster

We know there are a lot of unfamiliar terms used in higher education. Our jargon buster is designed to help you understand the key terms and phrases you might come across.



Someone who provides an applicant with advice, information and support with their application. This is usually someone from their school or college.



When an applicant sets up their account through UCAS, they will be provided with a buzzword from their school or college. This is used to link the application to them, so a reference can be provided more easily.


Changed course offer

An applicant may receive one of these if they haven’t met the conditions of their offer. It might be a different start date, point of entry or course all together.


Each course applied to is a different choice. An applicant can have a maximum of five on their application.


Clearing gives someone a chance to apply for an undergraduate course if they’re not already holding an offer from a university or college, or got different results than they were expecting.

Conditional offer

The applicant has an offer but needs to meet the requirements (often exam results) in order to have a confirmed place.


The outcome of a conditional offer that has been accepted. If an applicant meets the conditions, their place will be made unconditional (meaning they’ve secured a place). If not, the offer will be declined.

Contextual admissions/offers

In certain situations, a university can take personal circumstances into account when considering an application and offer. This means an applicant may receive a reduced or adjusted offer (e.g. lower entry requirements than advertised).



Applicants can request to carry an offer over to start it in the following academic year. It is up to the university if they accept the request.


Entry requirements

These are the requirements an applicant is recommended to meet to be offered a place and accepted on the course. In addition to grades, this could also include specific qualifications, subjects studied or passing an admissions test or interview. 


If someone has applied to five different courses/universities and hasn’t received any offers, declined the ones they received, or has changed their mind on what they want to study, they can still apply through UCAS Extra.


Firm choice

This is the first choice university and course.


Gap year

A year typically taken after completion of school or college before starting at university, often for travel, volunteering, work experience or to retake qualifications.


Upon successful completion of a degree programme, a student becomes a graduate.


Insurance choice

This is the second choice university and course.


Personal ID or UCAS ID

A personal 10 digit reference number given to an applicant on UCAS.

Personal statement

A written statement by the applicant, illustrating why they’re applying and why they’d be a great student.

Point of entry

What point of the course you start at – for example ‘2’ means an applicant would start in the second year of the course. The vast majority of applicants will start in year one.


The next level of higher education after an undergraduate course.

Predicted grades

These are the grades usually provided by a teacher, which they believe an applicant will achieve in their qualifications.



Usually written by a teacher from school or college recommending why the applicant is suitable for higher education.


Sandwich course

A course with an additional year where a student could take a year in industry to gain ‘real world’ experience.



UCAS allocates each grade and qualification a number of points. Some universities use tariff points as entry requirements, rather than specific grades.



The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service handles nearly all undergraduate university applications in the UK.


On the UCAS website this is where an applicant can search, save, and review their options, as well as apply for their course and track the application progress.

Unconditional offer

The applicant has a place confirmed, however, there may still be some things to arrange.


This is the first level of study in higher education.


The applicant has not been made an offer or met the conditions of their offer.



An applicant or the higher education institution can choose to withdraw their application, regardless of whether than offer has been made.

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