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Ucas Adjustment explained

A-level results better than expected? You might be able to swap your existing uni place for one at another university through Ucas Adjustment. Here's how it works…

Never heard of it? You’re not alone – a quarter of the A-level students we surveyed* weren't aware that they could swap their firm choice for a place on a different course with higher entry requirements if they did better than expected in their exams

If you're celebrating surprisingly good grades, read on to learn about Ucas Adjustment...

Are you eligible for Adjustment?

Ucas Adjustment kicks off on A-level results day and gives you the chance to switch onto an alternative university or course should you wish to. It's essentially the opposite of Clearing!

You can apply to a course through Adjustment if:

1. You’ve been accepted onto your firm choice and it’s now an unconditional firm choice.

2. You’ve exceeded the conditions of your firm offer, including subject-specific grade requirements. So, for example, if your offer is for ABB but you end up getting AAB, you could use Adjustment to potentially find a place at another uni instead. 

How Adjustment works 

You’ve only got five days from results day (or whenever your firm offer becomes unconditional) to use Adjustment, so you’ve got to act fast. The ‘trade up’ system officially ends on 31 August.
  • You register for Adjustment in Track. While you hunt for a new place, your original firm choice remains safe – and will do so unless you confirm you’d like to go elsewhere.
  • Unlike Clearing, there’s no vacancy list for Adjustment, so you’ll need to check university websites and contact admissions offices at the university you’re interested in directly to discuss possible places. Have your personal ID number ready and tell them straight away that you're applying through Adjustment. 
  • You can contact any university you like if you're using Adjustment, even if it's one that didn't accept your application first time round (although there’s no guarantee they’ll have any spaces).

Switch courses: do or don't? 

Before you dive in to find a course at a ‘better’ university, think carefully  – just because you can, doesn’t mean you should

You've put in a lot of prep work to get to where you are now: you’ve got a confirmed place at a university you’ve most likely visited and were excited about going to; you’ve looked into your course in detail; you’ve got your student finance and accommodation sorted...

Basically, you've put a lot into this choice already. Are you really ready to turn your back and seek a place elsewhere so quickly?

How to decide

Using Adjustment isn’t a decision to be taken lightly, so if you can:
  • Chat through your options with a careers adviser or teacher on hand at results day.
  • Go and visit the universities you’re interested in – lots have open days for the weekend right after results day. Be sure to ask lots of questions about the course too - it might vary from that at your original choice uni. 
  • Ask the universities about logistics – what are your accommodation options? How do you sort out your student finance?
  • ​Research the city – our city guides can give you a sense of the city's vibe if you can't jump on a train to visit.


*Source: An online survey of 1,012 prospective students who are intending to go to university next academic year, conducted via YouthSight in July 2014.

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