Student ambassador at open day

As your students approach the UCAS deadline on 25th January, they may be wondering what happens next. Most offers are provided by May, but that doesn’t mean they have to sit around waiting.

To help students understand what will happen next, start explaining the difference between conditional and unconditional offers. Conditional offers are most common, meaning a student has been accepted onto a course providing they receive the grades stated in the offer. Alternatively, unconditional offers are an immediate confirmation of a place on a course, which can be based on academic potential, qualifications already achieved or extenuating circumstances. They’ll need to understand that only two offers can be chosen; their first choice is their firm choice, and their second choice is their insurance choice. I recommend that students put an achievable offer as their insurance choice, so that they can fall back on this if the grades of a more ambitious firm offer aren’t achieved.

To help with this decision, universities will hold open days in the Spring term where students can hear talks from academics, visit the campus’ facilities and chat with current students. I strongly advise students to visit on-campus open days where possible to get a feel for the university’s environment and visit the local surroundings. Students may also be invited to applicant visit days between February and April by universities they receive offers from. These visits provide a more in-depth look at the department and can include taster lectures and seminars in their chosen subjects. If students aren’t invited to an applicant day, they can still search for online taster sessions to experience university-level teaching. At Swansea, we run a Current News Webinar Series in the Spring and Autumn terms, where students can listen to our academics and have any questions answered by the department directly. 

Between January and March, students applying for professional degrees (medicine, nursing, social work, education) and talent-based degrees (art, music, design) will also be invited to interviews. Preparing for these after applying will ensure the student has had time to do research around their subject area, university values and facilities, and any questions that could be asked. The university will want to know what the student can bring to the institution, so it’s important for them to sell themselves and think about displaying key skills in practical or group tasks.

It would also be helpful to explain UCAS Extra to your students, which can provide reassurance to students who are nervous about receiving offers. UCAS Extra opens on 23rd February 2023 and is available to students who haven’t received any offers and aren’t waiting on any more decisions. It allows these students to apply for a 6th course by 30th June 2023, at which point this process will close and Clearing will open.