Unconditional offers: should you always accept?
Unconditional offers: a no strings attached route direct to university, or muddying the waters when it comes to choosing a course? We've examined the pros and cons.
Before you jump in, weigh up that unconditional offer alongside - and in the same way as you've considered - your conditional offers, before making a decision.
Remind me, what is an unconditional offer again?This is when a university offers you a spot on a course regardless of the final grades you achieve. Essentially, you have a place there! However, as we'll see, there can be a few things to still sort out.
Must read: learn more about unconditional and other university offers
So the university really wants me, right?To some extent, yes.
Your Ucas application obviously impressed them. But universities don't want lots of empty spaces on their courses, either. By making these unconditional offers, they hope you'll choose them over another university (particularly if you're a top-performing candidate who'll have several prestigious universities making them offers).
In recent years, the restrictions on how universities recruit students have been lifted, meaning universities are competing to entice students. Unconditional offers could be viewed as one such tactic. So keep this context in the back of your mind as you're weighing things up.
Do many applicants receive unconditional offers?Unconditional offer-making appears to be on the rise. According to Ucas, in 2015 over 23,400 unconditional offers were made to applicants yet to take their final exams. While this accounts for just 2.5% of all offers made, this was almost double the number made the year before.
Unconditional offer = less end-of-year pressure?Is the idea of accepting a university place that won't be affected by your final grades enough of a reason to accept an unconditional offer?
It's certainly appealing, especially if it arrives while you're buried in revision, exams and assignments.
But beware of the (even subconscious!) effect having an offer in the bag might have on your overall efforts.
If you do accept, don't relax just yetIf an unconditional offer comes through, especially from your preferred university, you're in a great position. But accepting the unconditional offer doesn't mean you should put your feet up for the rest of the year.
The work you're doing now is preparation for what you can expect at university. Stay sharp and on-the-ball, and you're more likely to make a smooth transition later.
Plus, phoning it in now will make all the effort you've already put in a bit of a waste, right?
Making your uni decision
If your unconditional offer isn't for a university you really had your sights set on, try not to let the security it offers cloud your opinion of it.
Think back to how you felt about the course before that offer was on the table - would you be considering it if the spot wasn't guaranteed? You'll be spending at least the next three years committed to it, remember.
On the flip side, do give it due consideration if the course and university ticks the right boxes for you. As we've outlined, lots of universities are using unconditional offers as part of admissions these days, so you shouldn't treat these offers with unhealthy levels of suspicion...
They have received a mixture of responses from our students with some accepting them firmly, more accepting them as their insurance choice and some thinking that the university must be desperate to make unconditional offers!
Most other unconditional offers have been seen by students as being a form of 'bribe' in exchange for accepting the offer firmly.
There may still be a catchWhile it may be called an 'unconditional offer', that’s not always quite the case. For example, a university may stipulate that as part of their unconditional offer, you have to make them your first choice.
This stipulation is often a means of ensuring that you are passionate about studying with them:
This can be tricky to get out of if you change your mind later (you will have to request to be 'released' from your offer first).
Can you make an unconditional offer your insurance choice?Yes, unless otherwise mentioned. And that puts you in an excellent position:
I have an unconditional offer. What should I do?
1) Don't rush your decisionDon't feel like you have to make a decision the moment an unconditional offer comes along. Wait until you've received all your offers so you can properly assess your options. Usually, you'll need to make a decision by May (or later, depending on when you received all your offers).
Must read: Ucas deadlines and key dates
2) Review all your options
Take some time to revisit all your course and university options and consider them equally, especially if it's been a while since you sent off your Ucas application. Re-familiarise yourself with the course description and modules and, if you haven't already, try and visit the universities you're considering to really get a 'feel' for what that uni's like.
Must read: top tips when replying to offers