UCAS Adjustment

Got wayy better A-Level results than you were expecting? Congrats! Students who exceeded the conditions of their original choice of university can apply to a different course by going through the UCAS Adjustment process on their website. Read this article to find out more.

A young woman is going through UCAS Adjustment. This is a wide-angle image.

Disclaimer: As of 2021 UCAS Adjustment has come to an end. But you can still change universities using the clearing process, which you can find out more about here. UCAS say, “Students who wish to change universities at confirmation can use ‘Decline My Place’ to enter Clearing. And, if they use Clearing Plus, they will be signposted to relevant universities with spaces whose entry requirements match the student’s results.” Therefore, the following article is solely provided for reference.

What is UCAS Adjustment?

UCAS adjustment, sometimes referred to as university Adjustment, is a process that allows you to ‘switch’ universities. Specifically if you got better A-Level results than expected. It should be noted that doing this does not put your current uni offer at risk in any way.

Who’s eligible for university Adjustment?

Only students who have met and/or exceeded the conditions of their offer from their original first choice university can go through Adjustment. On the other hand, if you’re having to switch courses because you’ve not got the grades you needed, have a look at our article on the university clearing process.

How long do I have to decide whether I want to go through Adjustment?

We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but not long at all really. For people applying for university in 2021 the Adjustment period is from Tuesday 10 August until Wednesday 18 August. Once you get your results you only have FIVE days from the moment your Conditional Firm Offer (CF) turns into an Unconditional Firm Offer (UF) on UCAS Track. People usually start the process on results day.

How does the university Adjustment process work?

We’re gonna take you through it step-by-step:

1) Your existing Conditional Firm Offer turns into an Unconditional Firm Offer on the UCAS site. This happens automatically if you get the results you need.

2) You’ll see an option to register for Adjustment on your Track Choices page. You can register by clicking on this and it’ll make your application visible to other universities.

3) Start calling universities with higher entry requirements. Annoyingly, unlike clearing, Adjustment doesn’t have a list of course vacancies. This means that you’ll have to contact the unis yourself to see what they have. We’d recommend checking university websites, just be aware that all the new spaces won’t be advertised, so it’s important to call them too.

4) Ring the admissions offices at unis you’re interested in and tell them you’ve registered with Adjustment. Give them your personal ID. They’ll be happy to have a chat with you about the university and the course.

6) If they have a vacancy and you fit the requirements, they’ll offer you the place verbally. This is where you need to be really careful – if you accept it, that’s it. You’ve changed your uni place permanently. So make sure you’re only accepting a verbal offer if you’re 11110% on the decision. Remember, it’s totally OK to ask for some time to research everything. If they want a reason, just say you’re just ‘gathering information’.

7) If you end up accepting their offer, your Track screen will change and UCAS will send you a confirmation letter of your new place through the post. Don’t chuck that letter, it’s important.

What if I don’t find a place through Adjustment?

If you don’t find anywhere you like or that has places, don’t panic. Your original offer never went anywhere, so you can just go there. 

Are there alternatives to UCAS Adjustment?

If you fancy changing course completely, you can go through clearing. Or if you want to go somewhere that’s really competitive and there are no places through Adjustment, you can always take a gap year. Then, when you’re ready, you can reapply through UCAS with your new shiny grades.

Are there any downsides to Adjustment?

There are definitely a few things to consider before you hit the register button:

1) It’s stressful! You’ll have a mad few days where you’re frantically calling places and trying to visit new universities. Prepare for constant what-the-heck-am-I-doing? moments. Also don’t let shock at your amazing results talk you out of going to a university that you were initially very excited about and really gelled with. Remember, the uni experience isn’t just about prestige.

2) Unfortunately, if Adjustment works, it means you’re likely to get worse student accommodation. Universities usually allocate student housing on a first-come-first-served basis. So going through Adjustment could mean you don’t get into the best halls or flats.

3) It could affect your student loan coming through if your details change. Whatever happens, just keep your bank and SFE in the loop.

4) It’s unlikely you’ll be able to get into courses that have a more rigorous entry process (like medicine) by applying through Adjustment. So you should bear that in mind. 

For more information, check out our other resources on applying for university here.

Next Steps


results day

By Nishika Melwani

Updated on 04-Jun-2022