Your guide to UCAS

Male student typing in laptop

UCAS and you

If you are applying to study at a UK university then you may well already be very well acquainted with the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. UCAS is the centralised service that students use to apply to university in the UK.

UCAS charge a small fee for this service.


All about UCAS

Applications and offers

  • You will or will have submitted your application to up to five universities via UCAS.
  • Universities have until 6 May to respond to early applications. There are later deadlines for later applications, check UCAS key dates for the most up-to-date information.
  • Students can log in to UCAS Track to view and respond to offers.
  • Offers will be either conditional or unconditional.
  • You may find that your offer from Essex is a flexible offer.

Next steps

  • Once you have had responses from the five universities you have applied to, you then need to narrow down your five choices to two.
  • You will need to pick your firm choice (favourite) and insurance choice (runner-up).
  • It’s important to think carefully before selecting your firm and insurance choices as you’ll lose any other offers you previously received. If you change your mind later you’ll have to apply through Clearing and there’s no guarantee you’d get the same offer.
  • The deadline for you to choose your firm and insurance choice is 5 May 2020 if you received back all of your decisions from the universities you applied to by 31 March 2020.
  • If you receive back all of your decisions from the universities you applied to by 6 May then your deadline to choose your firm and insurance choice is 4 June 2020.
  • Check UCAS key dates for the most up-to-date information.

Surviving results day

Whether it's A-levels, International Baccalaureate or your home country results that you are waiting for, your results day is when everything starts to happen.

You got the grades

  • Congratulations! You got in to your first choice university!
  • Your Conditional offer will become Unconditional automatically on UCAS Track.

Better grades than expected?

  • Well done, you can either stick with your first choice university or you now have the opportunity to change your university choices via UCAS Adjustment.

You didn’t get the grades

  • Firstly, DON'T PANIC!
  • Secondly, check UCAS Track - you may still have got in to your first or insurance choice university!
  • If you didn't, then you will automatically enter Clearing.
  • Don't worry, if you enter Clearing, you are still in a good position to find the right course and university for you.


Each year thousands of applicants find university places through Clearing, so you will not be on your own.

UCAS closes for applications on 30 June and any application submitted after this date will automatically be entered into Clearing.

Clearing is actually a great way of finding a place at university. Whether you are a late applicant, you want to shop around for other courses once you receive your results or you haven't met the conditions of your firm and insurance offers, Clearing is your final chance to grab a place at university in 2020.

You will know you are in Clearing if your UCAS track status says ‘You are in Clearing'.

Clearing opens on 1 July 2020.

If you wish to apply again to Essex through Clearing you can do through our webform from 1 July 2020 or you can call our Clearing Hotline which opens in August 2020 where you'll be able to make applications over the phone.

If you are worried about Clearing, make sure you check our Clearing Survival Guide for support.

Direct and pre-sessional entry

If you are an international applicant, you can choose to apply through UCAS or apply to Essex via direct entry.

Your offer may require you to take a pre-sessional English Language course.

You can find out more about these pathways on our information for international applicants pages.

Fia Almanda, Britain's Got Talent 2016 star and BSc Accounting and Finance 2019 student
"I applied through Clearing and this was my first choice. I’m so lucky I got in. I didn’t know I wanted to go to university but once I got here I can’t think of a better life. Literally the best decision I’ve ever made."
Fia Almanda BSc Accounting and Finance 2019 graduate