UCAS Extra: A detailed how-to guide on securing your place at university when all seems lost

Have you declined any university offers you’ve received or not received any offers at all? Keep calm - you may be able to apply for another course via UCAS Extra between 25th February and early July. Read on to gain more insight on how it works…

UCAS Extra allows students to apply for additional universities, colleges or different subjects. If you have used up all your five choices in your application and these have been unsuccessful, or if you have simply declined any offers you have received, then you are eligible to use the UCAS Extra service.

Applicants who have not used up their five choices are also eligible to make further applications via Extra before 30th June, if they have not declined or accepted any offers. It is important to keep in mind that if you add an Extra choice after declining any offers, you won’t have the option of accepting any of your original choices at a later date.

You may also access the service if you have cancelled any choices you have not received a decision for. If you’re waiting for a decision to be made on a choice yet you’ve recently decided that you are no longer interested in this anymore, you may choose to just cancel any outstanding choices in Track and the ‘Add an Extra Choice’ function will pop up. Again, its important to think this decision through as you won’t have the option to restore any initial choices if you change your mind.

How can you add a choice if you’re not cancelling an existing one?

It is important that you do a thorough search for courses with Extra availability. To help with this search, it’s a good idea to sign up for UCAS Media mailings, as you’ll be able to regularly receive information from universities and colleges with vacancies. This is a more time efficient way of organising your search as it saves you from having to check out each university and college website individually at the initial stages of your research.

Using the UCAS search tool, simply browse or search for your subject of interest and then click on ‘Show courses in Extra’ which will be available on the left-hand side of the screen to view the list of available courses. If you encounter any problems doing this, there’s a video demo available on the UCAS (2017) page that will be of great help.

Keep in mind that not all unis and colleges will be available on Extra because each institution makes a decision on which of its courses are available for Extra entry. Institutions typically inform UCAS about available courses through an online system, which then becomes available for application. Using the search tool will help in viewing available courses only.

What else can you do?

If the course you want to apply for is not available through the search tool, why not contact the uni or college directly? Check out if they are happy for you to apply. If this option is available, you should ensure that you ask the uni or college to make the course available in Extra for you. This will allow you to add the choice through Track. Remember that UCAS will not be able to do this in the place of colleges or unis so it’s important to get on top of this.

It is common for most applicants to only make minor adjustments to their subject choice however there is the option of opting for a completely different area of study. Remember however, that not all courses will be available in Extra. Popular courses like medicine for example will almost never show up. The reality is that in some cases, your options may be limited depending on your course or uni of choice.

If you have been previously unsuccessful with your initial choices, it’s a good idea to reflect on why this may be. Perhaps you didn’t meet the entry requirements for your initial choice? If so why not consider applying for a course with requirements that match your expected grades?

You might also want to think about any related or alternative subjects, as you’ll be able to broaden your search that way and gain a clearer idea of the options available to you. By increasing your options, you may be able to even access joint or combined degrees which combine subjects that are of interest to you.

Still, you must ensure that you do not make a hasty decision in applying for a course - you will spend considerable time on this subject over the course of three years so make sure it's something you will genuinely enjoy. Just remember that you do not necessarily have to make an application through Extra on 25th February; applications are open through to early July. As long as you become eligible to apply up until early July, you’ll be able to make an application using the ‘Add an Extra choice’ option, which will be made available in Track. Also, take some time to do some research about the university - ensure that it’s a right fit for you.

You can then narrow down on your choices and get more information on any universities or colleges of interest through their website.

Things to remember...

After you have done this make sure that you get in touch with the college or university to check if they’ll consider your application before you apply and before you add the details in Track. Keep in mind that colleges and universities will be able to see your initial five choices when you submit an application through Extra.

You also can’t change your personal statement so if you’re applying for a course that is entirely different from your initial choice, it would be good to contact your preferred college or university to explain your circumstances. Let them know that you have changed your mind and check if there’s the option of submitting a revised personal statement. Note that you will be required to send the statement to the university directly, as it can’t be changed on UCAS. Ensure that you have correct details on when and where to send your revised statement.

Bear in mind that there’s no limit to the number of Extra choices that you can add to your application during the course of the Extra period however applications will be considered one at a time only. Using Extra is completely free of charge but if you initially applied for one choice only and you’re looking to increase your choices, you will be required to pay an additional £11 application fee. This fee can be paid in Track.

So what next after the application process?

As with any application, you will generally have three outcomes: you may receive an offer, you may be unsuccessful, or you may not receive a response.

If you receive an offer, great news, just ensure that you respond to this offer by the date indicated in Track. Remember to do so if you are happy with the offer as failure to provide a response means that your offer will be declined automatically. If you decide to accept an offer, bear in mind that you wont be able to apply anywhere else so it’s important to ensure that you are content with your choice and decision.

If you decide to decline an offer, there’s the option of adding another Extra choice as long as this is before the July deadline so no need to panic about your choices.

What if your application is unsuccessful?

Do not despair, like applicants who chose to decline their offers, you can still put in an application for another course via Extra, as long as you are able to meet the July deadline.

If you do not receive any feedback within 21 days of your Extra application, you can apply for an alternative course through the ‘Add Extra Choice’ button that will pop up on Track. It is imperative to note that if you use this option, your previous application made through Extra will be automatically cancelled.

New choices take a few days to process and this means that there is the possibility that your offer may come in during this period but you will no longer be able to accept it! You will need to be very certain of your decision, as once it’s gone, it’s gone.

If you are not able to find a course of interest during this period, the good news is that you may be able to find a university place using the clearing process, which becomes available in mid-July. The UCAS website is a resourceful place to look if you’re considering this option.

Final thoughts...

If you’re eligible for Extra entry, we hope that this guide has been useful. Be sure to check out this UCAS page for any additional information you may need. Good luck!