Choosing the universities to apply to is one of the biggest choices you get to make! Narrowing down 5 choices into 2 can be a difficult one for some students, and an easy one for others, but every university student will know the relief of replying to your offers. The question is, do the universities that you’ve chosen actually get to see your application choices?
Yes, your universities know if they are your firm choice. When you ‘reply’ to your UCAS offers, and make your firm and insurance choices, the two universities that you have chosen as your firm and insurance universities will be notified. As well as this, your 5 chosen universities will be able to see which other universities you applied for, but all of this information is only revealed to your choices once you have replied (so there isn’t any bias!).
Keep reading for more information about the application process and what your universities get to see about your application once you’ve replied.
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Do universities know if they are your firm or insurance choice?
Yes, your universities find out if they are your firm or insurance choice.
When you make your decision about which universities you really want to attend, you have to reply to 2 of the offers, your 2 most desirable universities.
According to The Uni Guide, your application is anonymous until you have replied to your offers. Once you’ve gone through UCAS and made your firm and insurance choices, those universities will be able to see that they are your firm and insurance choices.
The reason this information is only released after you have replied to your two choices is so that there is no bias or influence during the application process; it would be unfair if universities rejected or accepted you based on where else you applied!
Also, the universities need to know if they are your firm or insurance to calculate the approximate number of students in that cohort, and so that you’ll actually have a place at that university once exams are over!
However, even when universities find out if they are your firm or insurance choices, they should still be unbiased towards you.
What happens if you make a university your firm choice?
After you’ve received correspondence from all 5 of your chosen universities, no matter whether they are offers or rejections, you’ll receive a reply deadline.
By ‘replying’, you are picking between the universities you received offers from and choosing a firm and insurance choice.
Here are the definitions for firm and insurance choices as provided by the UCAS website, linked here.
Your firm choice is your first choice of university, the university you most want to attend (of the universities you received offers from. You cannot firm a university that rejected you). If you firm a university and then meet the conditions of their offer, you’ll have a confirmed place!
Your insurance choice is your second choice of university, if for some reason you didn’t meet the conditions of the offer from your first choice.
However, you’ll still need to meet the conditions of your insurance offer to have a confirmed place at university. It’s recommended that you choose an insurance with a lower offer than your firm, so that you can avoid going through Clearing!
Can you decline your firm choice on results day?
Yes! If results day comes around and you decide, for whatever reason, that you don’t want to attend your first-choice university anymore, then you can decline your place. Information about how to do this can be found on the UCAS website, linked here.
However, you should only do this if you’re absolutely sure, because you’ll lose your place at that university.
You can also decline an offer after accepting. To find out more about changing your mind after accepting an offer check out this Think Student article.
Can universities see where else you’ve applied to?
Yes, universities will be able to see which other universities you have applied to.
However, as stated on the UCAS website’s FAQ section, “[universities] only find out when you have decided which offers to accept, or if you have no live choices”.
This means that universities won’t know until you’ve ‘replied’, so your university choices will have no weighting on your application, and universities can’t be biased against you based on where you decided to apply.
The UCAS website does not say anything about opting out of showing your universities your other choices, so as far as is known, this is not an optional process.
What do universities see of your application?
The University of Oxford states on their website, linked here, that they see “your personal statement, academic record, predicted A-Level grades (or equivalent), and your teacher’s reference.”
When your universities receive your application, they will see the information you’ve put into it. The only information they can access outside of that included in your application is your academic record of qualifications in case they want to double check grades.
If you don’t want a university to see something about you (for whatever reason), then don’t include it in your application unless you are required to!