Uh oh. The application 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 application 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.
Missing the all-important 15 January deadline
This is the cut- off date for most degree courses. 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 the individual universities whether they will accept a late application.
Ucas Extra and Clearing
Your next options are Extra or Clearing, both separate parts of the Ucas application cycle...
Extra: Ucas Extra runs from February to early 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 on 30 June, finishing on 20 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.
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 OctoberMiss 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 OctoberThis 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 MarchThis 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.
- What to do if you don’t get an offer from your first choice university
- Find the course that's right for you - try our personalised course search (we feature 30,000+ undergrad courses listed on Ucas)