UCAS: General Information

What is UCAS?

UCAS is an independent organisation providing information, advice, and admissions services for all UK universities (including Oxbridge and Russell Group) and conservatoires.

They’re there to support students with their application, as well as processing it on their behalf and handling all of the administration.

In 2019, the UCAS undergraduate admissions service handled 2.79 million applications from over 700,000 UK, EU, and international students, with students securing a full-time place at one of 337 universities and colleges across the UK.

How will we support you during Post 16?

Here at Grace, we will support you every step of the way with your UCAS application. This includes dedicated sessions as part of the tutor program giving you the time and insights to explore your options and put together as application for the University and courses of your choice.

Key Terms

As your complete your application, you’ll hear a lot of terms you may not be familiar with. Below, we have explained some of the most common terms you might come across.


Higher education starts at the Undergraduate level. It’s the first level of study and what most students applying to university for the first time do. Whilst you are studying on an undergraduate course, you’ll be known as ‘an undergraduate’ or ‘undergrad’.


What you do when you successfully pass an undergraduate course. You’re also ‘a graduate’ when you pass an undergraduate course.


Once you’ve graduated, you can study a postgraduate course such as an MSc or a PhD. You’re also ‘a postgraduate’ once you successfully pass a postgraduate course.


This is the UCAS online application service.


A course you apply for. You will be able to make 5 choices as part of the application process.


This is a term used to describe applying or studying at the University of Oxford or the University of Cambridge.

Russell Group

This is a collection of 24 universities that are considered some of the top places to study in the country. These universities are: University of Birmingham, University of Bristol, University of Cambridge, Cardiff University, Durham University, University of Edinburgh, University of Exeter, University of Glasgow, Imperial College London, King’s College London, University of Leeds, University of Liverpool, London School of Economics & Political Science, University of Manchester, Newcastle University, University of Nottingham, University of Oxford, Queen Mary, University of London, Queen’s University Belfast, University of Sheffield, University of Southampton, University College London, University of Warwick and University of York.


The UCAS online service to check how your application is progressing and to respond to offers from your chosen universities


After you’ve applied, your university will make a decision about your application. There are 3 main decisions you’ll receive.

Decision Unsuccessful

Unfortunately, you haven’t been accepted by this choice.

Decision Conditional Offer

You need to achieve certain grades during Post 16 or to meet other conditions before you can start the course.

Decision Unconditional Offer

You’re on the course subject to successful completion of your Post 16 program of study


Once you’ve had a decision from all 5 of your choices, you need to reply to them. You cannot reply to any choice until you’ve had a decision from all 5.

Reply Firm

The university you definitely want to attend.

Reply Insurance

You can opt to commit to an insurance choice as a backup if you don’t get into your firm choice.

Reply Decline

To inform a university that you will not be accepting their offer.

UCAS Extra

If you don’t get any offers from your first five choices, you might be able yo use the UCAS Extra process to apply for one more choice.


An opportunity to apply for alternative choices if you’re unsuccessful in receiving offers or don’t meet the requirements for your firm or insurance choice.

UCAS Adjustment

You can use adjustment to apply for an alternative course if your grades are better than the conditions of your firm choice. 

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