Friday, 19 December 2014

Why you can afford to be braver in accepting university offers

Mary Curnock Cook,
UCAS' Chief Executive
Our End of Cycle Report spells out how applicants with even quite modest grades have a high chance
of getting offers from universities and colleges. And as the 2015 UCAS cycle gets underway, students will already be receiving offers and starting to think about which ones to accept.

Our report also highlights that applicants can make better use of their insurance choice.

Admissions officers understand what predicted grades mean

Many teachers use predicted grades to indicate what they think is the true potential of a student, rather than trying to predict what the outcome is most likely to be – and admissions officers realise this. This means that applicants might feel that an offer at, or even above, their predicted grades is a bit of stretch – and this is where the insurance choice comes in.

If you receive an offer you know you are unlikely to meet, you can still accept it as your firm choice, using the insurance choice as your ‘safe’ back-up. In the summer, even if you drop a grade against your ambitious firm choice offer, you might still be confirmed there. If not, your insurance offer kicks in and you are home and dry.

If you fail to make even your insurance conditions, there is still Clearing. Recent years have shown that there are usually plenty of courses with vacancies at all levels, including at the higher Tariff universities.

Applying for courses which have indicative requirements above your predicted grades

With five choices to play with, it is also relatively low risk to apply for a course or two which state grade requirements above your predictions. This might be a good option if you feel your school is under-estimating how determined you are to up your performance between now and the summer.   Make sure your personal statement is strong on your commitment though!

Make sure your insurance choice excites you

Using the insurance choice properly does mean that you need to do your research thoroughly, visit at least two universities, and be confident and excited about studying there.

It might even help to think of the insurance choice as your intended destination, with the tantalising and motivating possibility that your more ambitious ‘firm’ choice might turn up trumps in the final straight.

Don’t forget that accepting you at your insurance choice if you meet the conditions is not optional for universities.  If you have missed being confirmed at your firm choice, your insurance choice is contractually obliged to accept you if you have met those grades.

Our End of Cycle Report provides the evidence that students can afford to be bolder in their ambitions.  The insurance choice takes the risk out of dreaming about a university place with an offer that might seem a bit scary at this point, but which might be a real possibility as you work towards your exams and gain confidence in the lead up to the summer.

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