Declining UCAS Offer After Accepting: Guide for 2022

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After hours of hard work, exams and coursework during your previous education, to be accepted into a particular university and offered a place on your dream course is a special moment for many students. University acceptances can be considered one of the most rewarding things you can gain within your education and career.  Knowing you can earn these places will feel amazing. However, with all the chaos and excitement of being offered places, and making decisions, you need to make sure you are working at a suitable pace to decide on what you really want.  

Whilst any form of acceptance from universities you’ve applied to is great news, there may be changes in lifestyle, education or career paths that means you might want to decline offers and take a different route towards your end goal. You may just generally be having doubts about whether or not you still want the place at that particular university and course; wanting to search for other options. The decline of UCAS offers can be stressful, particularly if you have already accepted their offer, but you should remember not to panic as there are routes you can take no matter the situation. 

Although cancelling and changing subject areas and courses is possible, it is best to research and ensure you are definite on your choice of course and university before applying. However, if you’ve already applied, been accepted by universities and are looking for answers and advice on declining, this guide can point you in the right direction. 

Is It Possible to Cancel a UCAS Offer After Accepting It?

In short, yes of course you can cancel your offer, regardless of whether or not you have accepted. You shouldn’t feel pressured into accepting an offer that isn’t best for you and should take the correct steps in finding a course and university that caters 100% to you. It is extremely important to ensure you are positive about what you want to do before cancelling as if you cancel and change your mind again there is no going back and re-accepting.  

Before declining, set up a meeting with your college or university to discuss what options you have, as this could help you make a stronger decision on what you want to do. It could end up with you simply switching course and doing something different within the same university. If it is the course that you want to switch, rather than completely declining any sort of offer there and having to find somewhere else to study, they can help get you enrolled on something new.  

When attending an interview or meeting of any sort with potential universities or teachers, you are going to want to be professional and present yourself in the best way possible, as this may be the place you end up studying for many years. Your appearance and confidence are important during formal discussions about your university options as it shows to the recruiters that you are serious about your education. You can get some tips on what to wear and how to manage nerves by clicking here, and here 

It must also be noted, that there is a deadline in June as to when you can decide whether to accept or decline any offers, so make sure that you are making this decision at an appropriate time.  

How Would You Go About Cancelling a UCAS Offer After Accepting It?

If you have attended a meeting and you are absolutely certain that you do not want your place after accepting, you should log into your UCAS track account and press the ‘decline my place’ button. After pressing this, you should follow the steps provided on the website all the way to the end. Once the steps are completed, your contract with the university will be terminated and you will decline your offer. You should bear in mind that any arrangement that was made for accommodation or a scholarship will also be cancelled along with it.  

If the offer that you decline is an unconditional place, and also your firm choice, if you wish you will be entered into ‘clearing’. This option is available during a certain period, so be sure to stay updated with the UCAS site to find dates of when you can access this.  

You Have Been Entered Into Clearing, How Is This Different to ‘Extra’?

If you used all your choices when picking a university and have got to the stage of declining all their offers you will be eligible to use an ‘Extra’. Extra gives you the opportunity to apply for a new course in a university where they then take up to 21 days to consider your application.  

You can turn down the offers and keep looking for a university place up until a certain time period. Whilst this takes up more time to look for university courses, it opens up your choices of a university as opposed to just the five choices you made beforehand. You can read more about ‘Extra’ applications here. 

Whilst you can use an ‘Extra’, if you have no open offers up to a certain date, you can add another choice by being referred on to a ‘Clearing’. A clearing is used to fill up any places that are still available on courses that you may be interested in. Typically, if you have accepted and then declined an offer you will be eligible for this.  

You can decline and look for other places in a clearing offer but you will be working to find a university before the term begins, so make sure you keep track of dates and applications. Typically, a clearing is used as a last resort, where universities may be more willing and lenient to accept you into their course even if your grades are slightly below their boundaries.  

If you are passionate and optimistic about being on the course, they can see that you are determined to be a part of their team. You can read more about ‘Clearing’ by clicking here. 

What Impact Will Cancelling Your UCAS Offer Have on Your Student Finance Application?

When applying to university, you might find that you’re eligible for some form of funding or bursary to help you financially when enrolled and embarking on your educational journey. These can come in different forms such as help with tuition, accommodation and general living costs. In terms of UCAS themselves, they are not generally in charge or have control over any of the financing such as tuition. Typically, the only money you pay towards UCAS is your application fee.  

If you have completely changed your mind about wanting to apply to university, you can fill in this form to cancel your decision. However, you need to cancel your application within 14 days of paying for and submitting it in order to be eligible for a refund.  

On the other hand, with student finance, tuition fees are usually paid in three instalments throughout the year, therefore you shouldn’t panic too much about being charged and having to pay back before the year starts. Until you have turned up to university, student finance won’t pay anything.  

Cancelling a UCAS offer with a university that you applied for student finance with should be pretty easy to do. When cancelling or turning down a university, your student finance offer may automatically be stopped alongside it with no complications. However, in some cases, you might have to contact the universities financing team personally, through email, in person, or using other communication methods.  

By checking with the universities that you’ve applied for whether your finance has been cancelled, it eliminates any risk of accidental charges. When cancelling before the deadlines, your student finance eligibility won’t be affected.  

You can get more information on the cost of a university using this student article. 

What Can You Do Next After Declining Your UCAS Offer?

After cancelling and declining your UCAS offers, you are left with a few different options and choices of what you can do next. Although it’s completely in your hands what you think the next steps should be, there are some general ideas that you might want to consider.  

If you have declined every offer that you originally applied for, but still want to go to university you may be eligible to use an ‘extra’ or ‘clearing’ option as mentioned previously. This is a useful choice if there isn’t a particular university that you are determined to apply to. Using these options gives you a smaller choice of university, but still delivers an opportunity to attend higher education in a field that you’re interested in.  

Alternatively, if you’re wanting to apply to a certain university you would’ve had to register interest as soon as they accepted applications. If your heart is set on attending a university with a particular course, you might find that you need to wait a year to reapply. Nonetheless, do not panic or feel down about missing out on a year of education – you can use this to your advantage.  

Taking a Gap Year

Whilst in your gap year waiting to reapply, you could use this time to properly research the university and course that you want to attend, as well as exploring any other options or areas of interest. During this time, you will also already have your grades, and be able to apply to universities with them. You could use your free time to find work experience or small jobs related to your course so that you have a bit of pre-existing knowledge before you enrol.  

Open University

Another option or path you may be able to take is ‘Open University’. This is somewhere that allows you to study with them wherever you are in the world, through online education programmes. Another positive to this is that you can register and send in your application at any time, however, the modules start at certain times within the year. You can read more about Open University here.  

Yet university might be the only option for most people embarking on their journey towards their future career path, for others, there are definitely other options in getting to where they’d like to be.  


For smaller careers, your grades can be attained through apprenticeships, working your way up to a certain level and gaining similar levels to what you would in university. Not only does this give you the grades, but the vast majority of apprenticeships also give you hands-on experience of working within the industry.  

Apprenticeships might be a better alternative for those that require skill-based learning as well as academic learning. With apprenticeships, you are also more likely to be offered a work placement at the end of your training, securing you a job that you can work up within.  

Whatever decision you make in working towards your career, through university or equivalent opportunities, you must maintain a suitable work ethic and attitude. By staying motivated and enthusiastic about what it is you want to do, you will get to where you want to be.

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