Can You Decline a UCAS Offer After Accepting? (Guide For 2024)

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Going to university is a difficult decision, and one that isn’t easily made! That’s why many students, when it comes to results day, begin to feel anxious, and question whether university is really for them. If you’re in this position, then don’t worry. University is not for everyone, and you may even decide after accepting that you don’t want to go to university anymore. You might even want to decline your offer. If this situation sounds familiar, then this guide is for you!

Yes, you can decline a UCAS offer after accepting. Even if you have already accepted your UCAS offer and are set to go to university, don’t panic if you change your mind. For whatever reason it may be, you are still able to decline your UCAS offer after you’ve accepted it, and it is a process that many students have gone through before, so there are resources to help you.

Declining your UCAS offer after accepting is a stressful process for any student, which is why this guide is here to help you, step-by-step through the process!

Can you change your mind after accepting a UCAS offer?

Yes, you can definitely change your mind after accepting a UCAS offer, so don’t worry!

You don’t need to have a particular reason to be able to decline your UCAS offer. Whether it’s because of personal circumstances in your life, or you just come to the realisation that you no longer want to go to university, you’ll be able to decline an accepted offer for any reason whatsoever.

Similarly, just because you accepted the offer doesn’t mean you can’t decline it. Universities deal with students who want to drop out very often, so they understand if you change your mind about going to university.

However, if you are declining an accepted UCAS offer due to mental health reasons, know that you aren’t alone, and that there are people out there to help you if you need it. Check out this Think Student article for advice on dealing with stress at/about university.

Unfortunately, you can only receive a refund on your UCAS application if you cancel within 14 days of the original application submission, so if you change your mind after accepting a UCAS offer, you won’t receive a refund.

The template of the UCAS application request form is linked for you here.

Just remember: it’s okay to cancel for any reason! You definitely aren’t the first student to change their mind, so UCAS have dealt with this before and know what to do.

Can you decline an accepted unconditional UCAS offer?

As you may know, an unconditional UCAS offer means that no matter your grades you achieve in your exams, you have a confirmed place at a university or in an apprenticeship.

However, just with a conditional offer, you may realise once you’ve accepted your unconditional offer that you no longer want your place for whatever reason.

Well, don’t worry! Just like accepting a conditional offer, after you’ve accepted an unconditional offer, you can decline your place.

To decline your unconditional offer, you decline your place in the same way that you would a conditional offer – through UCAS.

Once you decline your unconditional offer, you will be entered into Clearing and you can apply through Clearing (since you aren’t allowed an insurance offer if you firm an unconditional offer).

You can read more about unconditional offers and declining them on this page of the UCAS website.

If you don’t want to reapply anywhere else, then you can withdraw your application from UCAS. However, if you do this, you won’t be able to reapply until the start of the next academic year, so make sure that this is something you actually want to do.

In most cases, you won’t have to contact your university directly, but be prepared that you may have to request from the university to be ‘released’ from the system because you accepted an unconditional offer.

If you decline your firm UCAS offer, do you lose your insurance offer?

Yes, even if you only want to decline your firm UCAS offer, you will lose your insurance offer. The same applies if you accept your offer and then decline it.

When you firm an offer, you are accepting that this university is the one you most want to attend – it’s the highest priority.

Therefore, once you firm an offer, or are accepted into your firm choice university, and then choose to decline, you lose all your other offers.

This means that instead of having an insurance choice, you have to enter Clearing, which is for students who did not meet the requirements for either their firm or insurance offers, or students who decided they didn’t want to attend their university.

The UCAS website states on this page that “if you want to go to your insurance place, you should phone them to see if they will accept you before declining your firm place.”

It’s important not to make any rash decisions – don’t decline your firm UCAS offer if you aren’t completely sure it’s what you want, or if you’re being pressured to. However, if you do, it’s important to be aware that your two remaining choices are Clearing or applying in the next academic year.

If you just want to change course and not university, but don’t know how to other than rejecting your offer, check out this Think Student article for some helpful advice!

Can you withdraw from UCAS on results day?

Good news: you can withdraw from UCAS on results day! Actually, you can withdraw your UCAS application any time you want.

As I mentioned earlier in this article, you’ll receive a refund on your application if you withdraw it within 14 days of submitting it. However, you won’t be refunded if you decide to withdraw any time after that point.

On their website, UCAS writes that you can withdraw your application from via UCAS Track at any time.

If you didn’t see it earlier in the article, the UCAS application cancellation request form is linked again for you here. Alternatively, it is much quicker and easier to call UCAS and request that your application be cancelled.

As soon as you’re absolutely sure that you want to withdraw your UCAS application, it’s best to inform UCAS as soon as possible (and the universities you applied to if you’ve already received offers from them), so that the universities can arrange places for other students!

How do you decline a UCAS offer after accepting?

Now that you know you definitely can decline a UCAS offer after accepting it, you need to know how to do it! Well, don’t worry! In this section of the article, I’m here to give you step-by-step instructions.

Here is what you need to do to decline a UCAS offer after accepting it:

  1. Log onto UCAS: Log into UCAS and make sure you have access to the website and all of your information, in case you need it at any point.
  2. Phone your university: You can find the contact details for the university holding your place on their website. You need to call them and ask to speak to the Admissions Office. Then, you need to ask your university to withdraw your application – they may ask you why, and if you’re sure, but don’t worry, they won’t be offended!
  3. Phone UCAS: If you don’t want to call your university, or you can’t find the university’s contact details, you can phone UCAS, and they will do it on your behalf. You can read more about this on UCAS, here.
  4. Use the ‘Decline your place’ button: If you just want to decline your firm choice, but still would like to attend university, you can select your offer and click ‘Decline my place’. Be aware, though, that if you do this you will not be able to accept your insurance offer – you’ll be entered into Clearing instead.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to continue on to university this year (or at all), you can withdraw your entire application.

Declining an accepted offer can be stressful, so it’s definitely normal to feel anxious. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, sit with a family member, friend, or teacher to help you through the process.

As already stated, if you don’t want to phone your university to decline your accepted place, UCAS will do it for you, so you can call them instead. Good luck!

How does cancelling UCAS offers effect your student finance application?

If you have cancelled the UCAS offer that you used when applying for student finance, you will need to cancel your student finance application. If you do not cancel your student finance application but do not attend university, you may still be liable and have to pay the loan.

Check out this page of the government website for an overview of what happens to your student finance if you suspend or leave your course.

Here are the steps to cancelling your student finance application:

  • You must first inform your university (and cancel your UCAS offer).
  • Then visit the government website’s page for Student Finance England, linked for you here.
  • Fill in the details as to why you need to access your Student Finance account.
  • Log into your account, using this page of the government website.
  • Follow the instructions as to withdrawing your student finance application.

However, if you are suspending university because of illness reasons and not because you no longer want to attend university, you will still be eligible for a maintenance loan!

The government website states that if you are suspending your studies for a serious personal reason (i.e., not because you realised that university isn’t for you), you have to apply to Student Finance England with a letter explaining why you need to suspend your studies. This will need to be with supporting evidence such as a doctor’s letter or letter from social services, etc.

More details about your student finance application being suspended for personal reasons can be found on this section of the government website.

Can you cancel a UCAS choice and add another?

If you don’t want to apply to a certain university anymore, the UCAS website states that you’re able to swap each one of your choices for a different one within 14 days of you submitting your application.

You’re not allowed to swap any of your choices after 30th June. However, if you’ve already replied to your choices – choosing your firm and insurance offers – then the process is slightly different.

UCAS say that:

  • If you replied to your offers in the last 14 days: No need to panic! All you have to do is contact a UCAS adviser (information can be found by following UCAS’ ‘Contact us’ button), and request for your replies to be changed.
  • If it’s been more than 14 days since your reply: You will need to call your firm and insurance university offers and request to be changed – it isn’t guaranteed that the university will allow it! After that, you have to call UCAS to inform them of which offers you would like to change your replies to. UCAS states, however, that you won’t be able to do this after 25 July 2024.

However, as mentioned earlier, if you accept your UCAS offer and then change your mind, there is a step-by-step process you can follow to solve the issue! You can read more about all this here on the UCAS website.

What happens if you decline all your UCAS offers?

Declining all of your UCAS offers is the same as withdrawing your entire application, except with different outcomes.

When you reply to your universities and select a firm and insurance choice, any other offers you may have received are then inaccessible (unless you decide to swap a choice) and are declined.

However, if it comes to Results Day and you no longer want to attend your firm or your insurance choice, you are allowed to decline all of your UCAS offers.

In doing so, you will then be put into Clearing. As I explained earlier, Clearing means that you will have to call other universities and request a place, but it is not always guaranteed that it will be a university you had in mind or with your exact course.

This is slightly different to what happens if you choose to withdraw your entire UCAS application, which I’ll explain for you below.

What happens if you withdraw your whole UCAS application?

UCAS states that “Once your application has been completely withdrawn, the universities and colleges you have applied to will no longer be able to see your UCAS application.” You can read more about this on their page here.

This means that you cannot apply to university through UCAS again in the same academic year, and any additional applications will be denied.

Therefore, you should only withdraw your entire application if you no longer want to attend university this year. If you would still like to go to university, but just not with any of your university offers, you have to decline your options and enter Clearing instead.

What are your options after declining UCAS offers?

If you’ve declined all your UCAS offers and are no longer attending university, then there are plenty of things for you to do.

You won’t be able to reapply to UCAS within the same academic year. Duplicate applications will be cancelled by UCAS, and you can read about this on the UCAS website linked here. However, as soon as the next academic year begins, you’re free to apply again!

During this time, you can take a gap year. A gap year is popular among students who want to go to university, but the year after leaving school is just the wrong time for them.

During a gap year, you can work, travel, and just generally gain work and life experience, all before university, which is what makes it popular. You can read this Think Student article to find out about the age limit for university in the UK!

Another option after declining your UCAS offer is to begin an apprenticeship. University is not for everyone, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be out of a job forever. Applying for an apprenticeship is a good way to get work experience earlier than most other students!

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