Applying to University is an incredibly important step in your academic career. It is also something which can be incredibly exciting while at the same time a bit nerve-racking. Once you have sent your UCAS Application off to the Universities which you would like to attend, the wait for offers back can be a very anxious one.
This is why it is important to understand the process of receiving offers back. If you want to put your mind at ease by knowing the time you should have received all of your offers by, why this amount of time varies depending on the university, and what you should do if you haven’t heard back from the Universities that you applied to, then this article is for you.
Although I would recommend reading the whole article, the short answer is that the time taken to make offers to applicants depends on the University. Some Universities will reply to your application more quickly than others, but the time taken to respond to your application is not an indicator of whether you have been accepted or not.
In short, most Universities will have made their offers to you by the 31st March, although some will make offers before then (and a rare few will be much later). Once you have received all of the offers you should respond to them by accepting or rejecting them by the 1st May.
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How Long Does it Take For Universities To Make Offers?
So, as stated above, most Universities will have made their offers to you by the 31st March. Though this does not mean that you will not receive offers before then, as some Universities will aim to respond to your application as soon as possible after it Is received.
The most important thing that you remember is that you must make sure you have submitted your application by the date provided by UCAS (usually the 15th January). This is how you can ensure that you will be considered for a place at every University that you apply to.
You should be able to keep track of your application easily through UCAS Track. You will receive emails from UCAS with any updates on your application, as well as them showing up on the Track website. Therefore, it should be easy for you to ensure that you are up to date with any progressions made in your application to Universities.
Why Does the Time it Takes For Universities to Respond to Applicants Vary so Much?
Each individual University operates in a different way when it comes to the application process. Some Universities will respond to applicants as they send their applications in, whereas others will wait for the final UCAS deadline for applications before considering anyone’s application. More about these systems can be found in the subheading below.
Even between Universities who run their admissions based on the same principle (either by first come, first reviewed, or by waiting until the January deadline for applications), there will be some differences in the response time to applications.
You will have to remember that the time it takes to respond to your application will depend on the volume of applications that the admissions team have to work through, as well as the different requirements that applicants must complete (whether these are admission tests or interviews for example).
Some examples of Universities which work on a first come, first reviewed basis are:
Some examples of Universities who wait for all applications to be submitted before sending out any offers are:
Does The Date at Which Your UCAS Application Was Sent Off Affect When Universities Reply With an Offer?
Generally, there is a great amount of variation between Universities in terms of how long it takes them to reply to applications from prospective students.
Once you have sent off your UCAS application, most Universities will contact you with an acknowledgement of the fact that they have received your application. However, this is not an indication of whether or not your application will be accepted, it is simply so you know your application has reached the admissions teams at the Universities that you have applied to.
From that point, some Universities will read and consider your application once it has been received, and if they are interested in having you as a student there, they will send your offer back to you either through an email and UCAS Track or just via UCAS Track alone. This means that you may start getting offers back from Universities a few weeks after your application has been sent off.
If the Universities that you have applied to happen to operate on this first come, first reviewed basis, the date at which you receive your offer will be partly dependent on the date that your application is completed and sent off to the Universities. However, you must also keep in mind that the admissions teams at Universities will experience some particularly busy spells during the application period, and so some offers may be made slightly more slowly than others.
However, not all Universities work on this first come, first reviewed basis. Therefore, you might find yourself waiting for responses from Universities for quite some time. The deadline for University applications through UCAS is usually in January (around the 15th), and some Universities will wait for this deadline before they start making any offers to applicants. In these cases, the date at which your UCAS Application is sent off makes very little difference to the response time from Universities.
How Does Having an Admissions Test Impact the Time it Takes For a University to Make an Offer?
In some cases, you will need to take admissions tests in order to be considered for a place at University. These tests can be used to determine whether you will have an interview at the university, or in some cases they can be used as evidence to reduce your University entry requirements.
An example of an admissions test is the TMUA (Test of Mathematics for University Admission). It is used by a number of Universities, to determine whether your mathematical ability is high enough for you to be able to study a Mathematics or a Mathematics-related course at University.
This test usually takes place in early November, and you should make sure that you register with your nearest test centre in plenty of time. Candidates should also have completed their UCAS application prior to the test. If you would like to find out more, have a look at this useful website.
Another example of an admissions test that you may need to take if you are applying to a course in Medicine, Biomedical Science or Dentistry. There are a number of different times throughout the year when you can take this test, but you can only take it once per admissions cycle.
This, again, means that you are likely to take it in early November (thought you need to check the requirements of the institution that you are applying to), and so your registration for the test (and your UCAS application) should be completed in good time. If you would like to find out more about the BMAT, take a look at this helpful website
As you would probably expect, admissions tests can mean that you have to wait a little bit longer for your offers from Universities, as it is an additional part of your application which must be processed. This means that (even though your application has been completed early), you are unlikely to get offers within weeks of applying. This does not mean, however, that you will not have your offers by the end of March, which is when Universities aim to make all of their offers to prospective students.
How Does Having an Interview Impact the Time it Takes For a University to Make an Offer?
Another component of a University application which may affect the time taken for your chosen University to respond to your offer is an interview. Clearly, if the University that you have applied to has an interview process, they will not be able to make you an offer before this has taken place.
Your performance in the interview can have a large impact on your chance of getting into your dream University. Interviews should be seen as an opportunity to show your interest in and knowledge of your chosen subject, and so you should aim to use them as a chance to show your enthusiasm. Don’t forget that Universities will need time to assess your performance in your interview, as well as to compare you to other candidates.
Individual Universities will have different application processes, and will likely expect different things from your interview. Advice on how to perform your absolute best in interviews can be found on individual University websites. Again, the time taken to make offers to applicants after the interviewing process is dependent on the University and how it chooses to operate.
For example, if you are applying to Cambridge University, you can find advice on interviews here. The way in which the timeline for applicants varies should also be considered between Universities. At Cambridge, around 75% of applicants are interviewed, and interviews tend to take place in early December. Unfortunately, you will not hear from Cambridge about their decision until January (the end of January at the latest), so it can feel like a long wait!
Another example of a University who conduct interviews is Oxford University. Again, advice on interviews can be found here
What Should You Do If You Don’t Hear Back From Your University Regarding Your Application?
Although UCAS asks Universities to make their offers by the 31st March, some Universities may take longer to respond to applications. The latest that they can respond to applicants is the in early May.
If all of your University choice have replied to your application by the end of March, the UCAS deadline for responding to your offers is in May. However, allowances are obviously made for students who have not received all of their offers by this date.
You cannot respond to your University offers until all of them have been made, and so it is important that you are patient. You can withdraw your application if you would like, but I would not recommend doing so. It is important that you keep all of your University options open in terms of your application, and once you have withdrawn your application from one University, you won’t be able to reverse that decision this academic year (you would have to reapply next year or through clearing).
For those students who have not heard from all their Universities by the end of March, you will have to be patient!
How Do Universities Let You Know If You Have Received an Offer?
When applying through UCAS, you can easily keep track of your application all the way through the process, using UCAS track. The same is true when you have receive an offer.
UCAS will email you to let you know that there has been a change to your application, and when you log onto UCAS Track, your application and offer details will be available to you. UCAS Track will show you all of the details of your offer. These may include:
- Whether your offer is Unconditional (e.g. not reliant on specific grades achieved in exams).
- What conditions you must meet in your exams to take your place at the University.
- How your offer could be reduced (e.g. if you accept the University as your firm choice, some Universities may reduce the grade entry requirements).
Additionally, Universities may get in contact with you directly via email to let them know you have an offer, and to promote their University further and provide you with any additional information which you may need. Some Universities also invite you to offer holder days, where you can visit the University and find out more about your course.
When Do Universities Confirm Your Place?
Universities receive your results a few days before Results Day, which ensures that they can see whether you have met their grade entry requirements or not. This means that UCAS Track can be updated accordingly, and the information about your (hopefully) confirmed University place can be available to you on the morning of results day.
Do keep in mind that UCAS Track often crashes on results day because of the high volume of students trying to access their offers. However, Universities will also often email you to confirm your place on their courses, and this should occur on results day.
If you would like to find out more information about when Universities confirm your place, take a look at this useful article, which will provide you with more detailed information about the final part of your University application process.