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UCAS terms explained

Meanings of the UCAS most commonly used phrases and words.

A lady standing in front of a chalk board with loads of question marks If you're applying for university in the UK, or looking to use Clearing to find a place on available courses starting soon, you'll be dealing with UCAS. It's easy to get confused by the many phrases used through the application process, so here's a rundown of the meanings behind UCAS' most commonly used words and phrases.


Each year some applicants pass their exams with better results than expected. And this may mean that some will have not only met the conditions of their firm choice, but will have exceeded them. UCAS has introduced Adjustment for these applicants - it provides an opportunity for them to reconsider where and what to study.


Apply [new window] is the online application system for applying for higher education courses.


A system used towards the end of the academic cycle. If you have not secured a place, it enables you to apply for course vacancies.

Conditional offer:

An offer made by a university or college, whereby you must fulfil certain criteria before you can be accepted on the relevant course.


When conditional offers that you have accepted become unconditional or are declined. Confirmation is dependent on your qualification / exam results.


Holding an offer until the following year.

Entry Profiles:

Comprehensive information about individual courses and institutions, including statistics and entry requirements. Entry Profiles are found on UCAS Course Search [new window].


The opportunity to apply for another course if you have used all five choices and not secured a place.

Firm offer:

The offer that you have accepted as your first choice.


A university or college offering higher education courses.

Insurance offer:

The offer that you have accepted as your second choice, in case you do not meet the requirements of your firm offer.

Personal ID:

A ten digit individual number assigned to you when you register to use Apply [new window]. It is printed on every letter UCAS send you and is displayed in the format 123-456-7890. You will be asked to provide this number if you contact UCAS' customer services.

Point of entry:

Your year of entry to the course, for example, two refers to the second year of the course.

Route A:

The application system used for all UCAS applications except for Route B art and design courses.

Route B:

A sequential application system for specific art and design courses, where you can choose up to three courses and the order in which they are sent to your chosen institutions.

Scheme Code:

Used in conjunction with your Personal ID to uniquely identify your application.


A system where you can track the progress of your application online, reply to any offers received, and make certain amendments, for example, change of address or email.

Unconditional offer:

An offer given to you by a university or college if you have satisfied the criteria and can attend the course.


Unistats [new window] website for students who want to research and compare subjects and universities before deciding where to apply. You can also look at student satisfaction ratings and explore the figures about getting a graduate job after completing a course.


You have not been accepted by the university or college concerned.


Either you or a university / college cancels a choice before a decision has been made - a reason will be included if the withdrawal was issued by an institution.

Source: UCAS