What to do if you miss the Ucas deadline

Uh oh. The deadline date has come and gone and, for whatever reason, you’ve not got your university application in. Is that it for another year? Not necessarily – here are your options.

Of course, it’s best to sort out your Ucas application well before any deadlines loom but then you probably knew that. If you do miss the starting gun, however, there are ways of getting back into the running at a later stage. 

The Ucas ‘deadline’ is actually several separate dates between October and March, which need to be tackled separately we've covered these later on.

To help you get your application finished off, we've also got advice for you on perfecting your personal statement and comparing courses

Missing the all-important 15 January deadline

This is the cut-off date for most degree courses (and it's the same every year). Between then and the end of June, although your Ucas form will be forwarded to the unis you have chosen, admissions tutors are not obliged to consider you. Whether they do depends on how many candidates are ahead of you in the queue, or have already been given places.

Check with universities directly to see if they accept late applications for the course you want to study.

University Campus Suffolk (UCS) considers late applications for the majority of our courses. Normally, only midwifery will close on 15 January.  Karen Hinton | Acting Head Of Student Recruitment - University Campus Suffolk (ucs)

We invariably consider all applications after 15 January deadline. Emma Brier | Assistant Academic Registrar - Leeds Trinity University

Ucas Extra and Clearing

Your next options are Extra or Clearing, both separate parts of the Ucas application cycle...

Extra: Ucas Extra runs from 25 February to 4 July for applicants who must have made five initial choices, but either have been unsuccessful in all cases or have declined any offers they received.

Clearing: the Clearing cycle kicks in from July, finishing in September. This is the time when any empty places are up for grabs. 

  • For Scottish unis, peak time is early August when Higher results are published.
  • In the rest of the UK, it maxes out a couple of weeks later when A-level results are issued and thousands of spaces are freed up by applicants not making the grade, or turning down insurance offers in favour of their first choices.
Generally it operates on a first come, first served basis, but most unis still want the best applicants and won’t compromise on grade requirements. You are not alone, though – see our article on where to go for help with Clearing for help with finding instant and expert assistance.

For Extra or Clearing, you may increase your options by considering joint or combined degrees covering two or more subjects.

If you decide to go for Clearing and you aren’t already in the Ucas system, don’t wait until it’s at its height to opt in. There’ll be an inevitable delay while you write and submit an application when people already in the system can sneak in and snap up places before you are even on board.  

More missed deadlines?

Oxbridge, medicine, dentistry, veterinary courses: 15 October

Miss this and your chances of being considered are slim to non-existent. If, come the summer, your grades are out of this world, then it could be worth contacting these unis and courses direct: they won’t feature in Clearing. Don’t hold your breath, because they are likely to have their own waiting list of candidates who did hit the deadline.
  • What to do: re-apply (in plenty of time) next autumn. Use the extra time productively: extra study, relevant work experience and varied volunteering will boost your chances in a very competitive field.

The conservatoires: 1 October

This is the closing date for applications to for most UK conservatoire courses via Cukas (note: dance, drama or screen production courses may have a different deadlines check direct). Again, it’s unlikely you’ll be considered after this point, as the auditions and interviews cycle gives little leeway for latecomers.
  • What to do: you do have a lifeline going for an academic degree in the same subject at a mainstream university by 15 January. If you decide instead to reapply to the conservatoires next year, there will be an expectation that your experience, performance and techniques will have risen several notches.

Art and design courses: 24 March

This is the deadline for some not all! art and design degrees, which will give you a breathing space if your portfolio remains a work in progress.
  • What to do: you might still get lucky through Extra and Clearing (see above), though the most popular and prestigious degrees rarely have places in those schemes.


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