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Explaining Adjustment

What is adjustment?

Adjustment is a process administered by the University and College Admissions Service (UCAS) and is used if you have met and exceeded conditions for your firm choice. 880 students successfully used adjustment in 2018 to change their university choice. Adjustment allows you to apply to universities who may not have accepted you with your predicted grades, asking if they will now accept you with your higher, actual grades. So, adjustment is a chance to reconsider what and where to study.

How does adjustment work?

Some applicants may have exceeded expectations, whilst others may have fallen just short, and others may have deferred their entry. This means that, in the transfer market that is university places, there could be spaces available on your favourite team (university) and in your favourite position (degree course). Excusing the analogy, this means that you could potentially switch to a different degree course at a different university that, at the time of making your application, you did not have the grades for. You can also reapply to universities that rejected your application previously, on the basis that you may be accepted with your higher grades.

When does adjustment open?

Adjustment opens from A-level results day (August 15th 2019) until 31st August, but you will only have 5 days (including weekends) to accept a new offer. This time period starts from A-level results day or when your Conditional Firm (CF) offer becomes an Unconditional Firm (UF) offer on UCAS track (whichever occurs later). If this occurs after 26th August, you will only have until 31st August to apply through adjustment. The process is entirely optional and some courses may remain full if all applicants have met their offers. 

How can I adjust my university choice?

  1. Register on UCAS Track

On A-level results day you will have the option to register for adjustment in UCAS Track (which you should have used previously to track your application). If you accidentally sign up, please do not worry. As long as you do not apply to any other universities, the option for adjustment will disappear after 5 days and your current offer will remain safe.

  1. Considering different universities

Unlike when you first applied, there is no list of universities offering adjustment places. Therefore, you will need to contact university admissions offices directly, asking whether they have any places available. To do this, you will need your UCAS personal ID so that they can check that you have exceeded your current offer. Once this is confirmed, you can then talk through the places they have available on their courses.

  1. Accepting an offer

Once you have assessed which places are available, you can choose to accept one and only one offer. If you choose to stick with your current Unconditional Firm offer, you do not need to do anything, as the opportunity to adjust will disappear after 5 days and this choice will be confirmed. However, should you choose to accept an adjustment, you must let this university know so that they can add themselves to your application on UCAS track. 

It is vitally important that you only accept one offer (verbally, over the phone, or via email) as this university will then add themselves as your chosen university on track. This university will then permanently replace your existing choice. This means that when you contact universities you are free to say you are just researching your options at this point, as this will allow you to talk with several universities without committing yourself to a place at any of them. Remember, you only get one offer through adjustment, so it is important that this choice is researched thoroughly!

Once you have accepted your offer, if you only applied to one course for the reduced £18 fee in January, you will have to pay the additional £6 to apply to more courses through adjustment. If you applied to more than one university earlier in the year, you should not need to pay anything extra. Once this process is complete, your track screen will update with you new university and course and you will receive a letter from UCAS.

Did you know? The University of Cambridge is participating in adjustment for the first time this summer. It is focusing on groups who are under-represented at the university to try and make representation and access to the top universities more equal.

Top tips:

  1. Do your research!

Do your research into student finance, available accommodation, campus life, the department and teaching style at the new institutions you are looking at – particularly as you may not have been to these universities before. To make this easier, we recommend following the 4-step process put together by Which? University when going through adjustment:

  1. Talk through your options with a careers advisor or with one of our team here at EIB admissions
  2. Visit the universities that you are interested in as many have open days on the weekend after A-level results day – Ask other students who made it in through adjustment about their experiences and find out about your course structure, assessment and module choices
  3. Ask the universities about logistics – Sorting out accommodation, student finance, bursaries
  4. Get to know the university that you are considering adjusting to and its surrounding city or campus 
  1. Talk with the university

Having completed your research into how you reapply for student finance and accommodation, you will hopefully have communicated with the university about this process. Consider which university was the most responsive, as this will make the actual application process for these amenities easier.

  1. Read up on other students’ experiences of adjustment

We found several articles written by students talking about applying through adjustment:

  1. Talk to the university about their offer

Remember to only verbally agree an offer with a university if you are absolutely sure that you want it (UCAS). Only one adjustment offer can be accepted and once it is accepted, even if this is over the phone, the university will change your offer on UCAS track, so please make sure you only accept an offer if you want the place. However, please do discuss your offer with the university to fully understand the course and university you are applying to, and compare this with your current offer.*

*Remember, if you want to change courses at your existing university, you can call the university’s admissions office to ask if you can change with your higher grades. Ask the university if this needs to be done through adjustment or can be completed once you arrive (although make sure it is clear how this will be done).

Should I participate in adjustment?

Adjustment is useful if you have exceeded expectations and want to go to a different university or study a different course. In addition, you do not have to accept any adjustment places that are offered to you, you can just say that you are researching at the moment (however, if you intend to accept one, remember the 5-day window). 

Having said this, it is always a good idea to be cautious when considering adjustment. Firstly, remember that you may be a little nervous about starting university – Although it may look it, the grass is not always greener at a different university or studying a different course. Secondly, you have probably put a lot of work into researching your current university and course, so do not change you offer just because one university is ranked slightly higher than another

If you do choose to change courses or universities, remember that you only get to accept one adjustment offer, and once it is agreed (via email or over the phone) you lose your current offer. This means it is all the more important to do thorough research into your options whilst you can. Research the syllabus, teaching style and accommodation of your new university, also considering the wider city or campus it is located in. Also try and visit it if you can during their open day. Finally, consider the fact that you will have to reapply to accommodation, bursaries and grants at your new university, which may take time away from enjoying your last month leading up to the big university departure.

Therefore, the key takeaway here is please don’t feel pressured into using adjustment. If you want to change course with your higher grades, and this has been thoroughly researched, it may be a wonderful opportunity. But, please do not feel ashamed in staying where you are. To finish, I would like to share with you one of the best pieces of advice I have come across, relating to adjustment, that was created by Flora Carr

Imagine the prospect of swapping a very nice piece of chocolate cake (your existing offer) for a slightly bigger one (your adjustment place). If things don’t work out quite as you’d hoped, it doesn’t make the first slice any less sweet, does it?

Whichever piece of chocolate cake you choose, we hope that it is tasty, and we wish you the best of luck!

If you want to read more articles like this one, please feel free to visit our resources page.

Useful links:

UCAS guide to adjustment including a useful video explanation: https://www.ucas.com/ucas/undergraduate/apply-and-track/results/ucas-adjustment-if-youve-done-better-expected

Which? Article on adjustment: https://university.which.co.uk/advice/ucas-application/ucas-adjustment-explained

Daily Telegraph step-by-step guide to adjustment:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/education-and-careers/0/ucas-adjustment-2019-step-step-guide-works/