Are Uni offers made on a first come first served basis?

(32 Posts)
amumthatcares Fri 30-Nov-12 17:13:27

DD submitted her completed UCAS application & fee to school on 26th October and it still hasn't been sent off. We were led to believe that they would be processed, the teacher reference added and sent off in order that they were submitted to the school. I do appreciate the school has hundreds to deal with but DD is aware of students that have submitted theirs since her and theirs have been processed and sent off in one day. I am not a happy mummy right now and have telephoned the school to tell them so!! DD's concern (and I don't know the answer) is that the Uni's make offers as applications come in and so by the time the latter ones arrive all the spaces will have been offered. Is this the case?

eatyourveg Fri 30-Nov-12 18:14:51

Some places don't send out any offers until after the closing date of Jan15th - sometimes you will find info on the websites but its generally only a guideline. ds1's got all his offers within a week of the form going off last year (end of Oct) but there were others on the student room waiting for offers from the same places for much longer. It seemed to vary from one department to another.

If your dd is worried then she could try posting on the relevant student room or fb pages to see what sort of timeframe other students have had. It may well allay any anxieties talking to other applicants

amumthatcares Fri 30-Nov-12 18:27:10

Thank you, she knows some friends that have received offers from a couple of the Uni's she has applied to. Does this mean that applications made in Jan may not be considered by Uni's that start offering places before this closing date? confused

amillionyears Fri 30-Nov-12 18:33:58

It used to be a case of yes and no.

I had the same concerns as you 2 years ago, and saw the Head Teacher about it.
It turned out that the person who was supposed to oversee all the applications was new to the job,and was a bit out of his depth.
After I had seen the Head, the situation was speeded up. I think she had someone come and help him out. I was also aware that it could potentially help other pupils applications as well.

I would make an appointment to see poss the Head asap. imo, it is too important a situation to leave and wait.
Good luck with your DDs apllication.

campergirls Fri 30-Nov-12 18:34:59

Most places will know how to pace their offers so that they haven't all been used up by January.

AcidTurkishBath Fri 30-Nov-12 18:38:11

They should pace their offers, leaving enough for applications made in January. But I'd really push for it to get sent off as quickly as possible.

nemno Fri 30-Nov-12 18:40:33

Don't worry about universities running out of places amum. Many do give out places as they receive them but only to those that easily meet their admissions requirements. They have loads of experience with how many offers they can safely give out without running the risk of not being able to accept capable applicants who wait for the January deadline.

Universities have to give equal consideration to every application received by the deadline. It is natural to think that the sooner the application is in the better and in some very high application cycles it is just possible that a university might become slightly more selective as the application cycle progresses, and visa versa, but this is not one of those years (unless I have missed some unexpected popularity of an individual university this year).

But I would be cross with the school too, for taking so long.

amillionyears Fri 30-Nov-12 20:26:36

nemno
"Universities have to give equal consideration to every application received by the deadline"
Do you know this for sure?

My friend's dd sent her application off very early as she wanted to catch the Oxford due date (which is earlier than other unis?)

She has received a yes from one uni and the others on her form have emailed her to say they won't consider her application on or after the closing date as they will wait until they have received all applications.

So my guess would be that some unis offer places early (but surely know how to pace themselves, perhaps those that had offers early are exceptional students?) and some will wait until after the closing date.

amumthatcares Fri 30-Nov-12 21:12:33

Thank you all for your replies. That gives us a bit more peace of mind. I shall be back onto the school on Monday and if it still hasn't gone, again on Tuesday...Wednesday...Thursday!!! grrrrrr angry

LeeCoakley Fri 30-Nov-12 21:32:58

I think it's impossible to second-guess how universities allocate places. Last weekend Birmingham had an Open Day for students who hadn't already sent off their UCAS applications and there are still other unis with Open Days for the 2013 intake. With dd1 we didn't hear until March that she had an offer from her top choice (lots of hand-wringing and wailing they-don't-want-me) and yet others made offers within 24 hours of sending the form off in October. Dd2 sent hers off on Monday and has one offer already but I bet the one she really wants (Birmingham) will be the one we have to wait for until Spring!

Argh, just re read my message. Of course that shoudl have said that various unis have emailed her to say they won't consider her application until on or after the deadline...

Edit button mucho required MNHQ!

TheCollieDog Sat 01-Dec-12 10:21:26

OK, there are two parts to this, in my experience (3 elite universities). We know that many (but not all) of the brightest/highest predicted applicants will put applications in early because of the Oxford/Cambridge deadlines. So it may look as though some get offers fast & early. And it has been my experience (but this is anecdotal and from observation) that batches of applications which only just meet the UCAS deadline tend to have more of the weaker candidates in them.

But, we do know what we're looking for, and we take each application on its own merits. There is a base line, so whether an application comes in early or late, if it doesn't meet that baseline, there won't be an invitation to interview (in my field it is national standard practice to require an on-campus interview/selection activity: no interview, no offer). And then there is a further evaluation & selection at interview.

Our decisions are never entirely individual. Together with my colleagues, I'm given batches of UCAS forms for a first selection of whom to invite to campus. My decisions are checked against my colleagues' and for consistency by the departmental Admissions tutor. Then at the selection process, two coleagues -- probably entirely different from those who read the UCAS forms in the first place, will run a selection event. And there may be two events running parallel. We all meet at the end of the day to compare notes. Our forms plus extra notes are again checked for consistency by the departmental Admissions tutor.

So one UCAS form may be seen by up to 6 academics within the department, plus central Admissions admin staff.

We also make about 4 to 5 offers for each place, although I've worked in departments where typically there are around 10-15 applicants for each place.

amillionyears: *"Universities have to give equal consideration to every application received by the deadline"
Do you know this for sure?*

What you're suggesting is that university academics and administrators who deal with applicants and the admission process are less than professional and contravene university regulations, a HEFCE policies of fair and transparent admissions. A rather serious accusation to make?

nemno Sat 01-Dec-12 12:21:26

Just seen this. Yes I am sure that "Universities have to give equal consideration to every application received by the deadline". If you are asking do they abide by this then I refer you to Collie's response. I have no reason to believe that they are not abiding by the rules.

creamteas Sat 01-Dec-12 15:38:40

At my uni, we only interview candidates with non-standard entry routes (no recent study, big change between previous study/experience and subject applied for) and this is what we do with applications. Our standard offer is ABB.

Any application that has their qualifications already we make an offer to straight away if they meet the grades. They get the first sniff of places as there is no question mark over their results.

Of those that are still sitting qualifications, applications that exceed what we are asking for (eg AS grades and predictions) we are also likely to make an offer straight away. In most cases, we know we will be the insurance place, if chosen at all. So we may as well get them out if the way.

We start making offers to applicants we think will come around now, and do so on the basis of the strength of the application, with grades and predictions being the most important issues. The strongest (for example good AS results) get offers now and those that are those that are not as strong (eg predictions ok, but weaker AS results) are considered in Jan after the deadline.

LaVolcan Sat 01-Dec-12 17:36:11

When I worked in a university registrar's department processing applications, I found that it very much depended on the Admissions Tutor of the individual departments. Most were very conscientious and reviewed the applications promptly and made offers accordingly. Some had to be nagged and nagged - and we would have to tell them that certain UCAS deadlines were looming. Poor applicants - I used to feel really sorry for them, waiting at home, thinking that their applications were being considered and it was just a lazy tutor who couldn't be arsed.

TheCollieDog Sat 01-Dec-12 21:15:08

I sincerely doubt that any academic is lazy and couldn't be arsed. Most of my friends and colleagues work 50-60 hour weeks as a minimum. Indeed, I've only just now stopped work today, and I'll have another full day tomorrow.

amillionyears Sat 01-Dec-12 22:09:07

First of all I didnt know there were guidelines about this.

But if say a student is given a yes in say November, before absolutely all the applications have been recieved, how can each applicant be given equal consideration, when an admissions tutor hasnt even seen some of the applications?

TheCollieDog Sat 01-Dec-12 22:37:09

Because we evaluate applicants against a set of external factors. We don't compare them. It's not a bell curve distribution. If you meet our criteria, you get an offer.

amillionyears Sat 01-Dec-12 22:40:58

So you are never oversubscrived by say December?

TheCollieDog Sat 01-Dec-12 23:13:56

That's not the way it works, if you actually read the posts upthread.

titchy Sat 01-Dec-12 23:37:22

Don't forget universities have to make far more offers than they have places as a lot of offers will be rejected by applicants when they receive an offer from their first choice, a fair few also might accept but only as insurance and so go elsewhere once results are in, another lot will not meet the offer and a final batch of unconditional firms won't even turn up at enrolment! So yes. There are plenty of offers to be made!

amillionyears Sat 01-Dec-12 23:39:31

I can see that if applicants that meet the criteria are asked for interviews then there should not be a problem.
And also, for Unis and Uni courses that are maybe not as good, that giving out offers early should not be a problem at all.

But for some of the quite high Unis or courses, I still dont see that if offers are made because students are likely to meet the criteria, that if there were to be many more applicants of the same calibre and also likely to meet the criteria, that they wouldnt be in danger of having a little less chance of getting the exact same offer.

But never mind if you dont want to explain further, or feel you have already explained enough.

amillionyears Sat 01-Dec-12 23:40:47

Ah, that expains a bit more thank you titchy.

FestiveWench Sat 01-Dec-12 23:49:30

Each uni has its own system, but IME (on a very oversubscribed Russell group uni) was that we would give very quick offers to the outstanding applicants and very quick rejections to the ones that did not meet our expected standard. We would the keep the intermediate applications to assess after the deadline in what is referred to as a "gathered field" approach.

Bear I mind that it is very strongly in the uni's interests to give offers to the best students and not just to the earliest applicants.

So in the vast majority of cases I think it does not matter at all when the application is received. It is of course logically possible that a course may receive many more applications than usual and so could exceed their target number of offers before the deadline, but this would be very very unusual in my experience and would only happen if a course had a reason to be more popular than usual that year. (or if the admissions tutor was incompetent smile )

FestiveWench Sat 01-Dec-12 23:55:48

And to emphasise the point about the difference between offers and places...

A typical ruled of thumb might be that a course would make 3 offers for every place on the basis that one of these would go elsewhere and one would miss the offer. Obviously the actual numbers depends on the popularity of the uni and the difficulty of the offer.

None of this is an exact science. Admissions tutors do their best make an appropriate number of offers but some years the course will have more students the the target and some years they will have fewer. But without a crystal ball we can't know exactly how many students will accept and meet our offers. And we are very unpopular with the admin staff she we get it wrong and admit too many students smile

amumthatcares Sun 02-Dec-12 18:23:03

Thank you for all the replies. My line of thought was the same as that of amillion but I can now see how the system works as a rule with all of the various explanations smile

iamapushymum Thu 13-Dec-12 10:14:01

so what happens, come teh following autumn, if a course ends up with 3 x as many students as it has places for ?

LondonMother Thu 13-Dec-12 12:44:19

Not really likely, iamapushymum.

1. The best candidates will be getting 4 or 5 offers from 5 applications, in many subjects. They can only firmly accept one and that has to be done by ?Easter time. I suppose it's then that the university might realise that they have 3 times the number of firm acceptances as they have places, but my hunch would be this doesn't often happen.

2. Even if they had massively more acceptances than places, come results day some candidates won't meet the entry criteria and others will change their plans and defer or turn the place down. Universities will know from experience how many they are likely to lose for these reasons and will have factored that in at the offer stage.

3. Insurance offers are a complicating factor as if a candidate doesn't get into her/his firm choice but does meet the conditions of the insurance offer, the insurance place is contractually bound to take the student, if I understand this correctly. My hunch (again) would be that the kind of massively oversubscribed courses we're talking about would mostly be accepted as firm offers rather than insurance offers, so there won't be that many insurance offers to factor in.

I'd be interested to hear from people who know what they're talking about if my hunches are anywhere near the true position!

titchy Thu 13-Dec-12 12:49:05

It is just as you say londonmonther smile

IF a course does over-recruit, the institution just has to suck it up and deal with it.

LondonMother Thu 13-Dec-12 16:08:45

smile Titchy!

FestiveWench Thu 13-Dec-12 16:15:52

Yup. We suck it up.
And the admissions tutor responsible has to hide from the admin staff who have to deal with the increased numbers for the next three years smile

Worst I've done is been 15 students over target for a 140 student course.

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