This is the time of year when many universities are making offers of places, but what if your child hasn’t received any yet, or has just received rejections … what can you do?

Help! My child doesn’t have any offers of places at a UK university … what do I do?

Dr. Helen Wright
January 13th 2019

This year, the deadline for applying to most UK university courses for entry in September 2019 is 18.00 GMT on Tuesday 15 January, so if your child has not yet submitted an application, this is now urgent!

Talk to school immediately, and to your child directly, but if he/she is planning to go to university this year, then you need to act immediately. Assuming, however, that he/she submitted an application last term, and is just waiting for offers, then what should you expect? This is the time of year when many universities are making offers of places, but what if your child hasn’t received any yet, or has just received rejections … what can you do?

First, if your child has not yet received any offers, then do not panic. Universities vary enormously in how they make offers – some like to offer places in a number of tranches (eg October, December and January/February, while some others prefer to wait until the deadline to make all of their offers. Be assured that the universities to which your child has applied will respond at some point, and it may not be for some time yet – universities don’t actually have to respond until 2 May 2019. If your child ends up applying after the 15 January deadline, and any time up until 30 June – ie making a late application – then universities may still consider him or her, but they don’t have to make decisions until 11 July. So – be patient, and take each day at a time.

If your child is receiving rejections, then again, do be patient, but if he/she has received rejections from all 5 universities applied for, then do look at UCAS Extra, which will show courses which still have spaces. Choose a course, contact the university to talk about eligibility (ideally, your son/daughter will do this themselves) and then apply. The UCAS website – – is incredibly helpful, and university admissions offices are extremely well practised in supporting applicants, so do not hesitate to approach them.

However … do start asking yourself at this point if your child is being realistic about the courses and subjects he/she has applied for.

Have a conversation with them and explore whether their heart is really in this application, and what they hope to get out of university – it may of course be that they had no really sensible advice at an earlier stage about what to apply for, but it is never too late to get this kind of advice. A series of rejections is often a little red flag that something is not right with the application, and you should look into this, and seek extra help and advice if you think need it. (As a parent, you will know by now the benefit of having a neutral third party involved in a discussion where you may be seen to be questioning your child’s choices …)

In practice, there are a number of routes into a university course in the UK in 2019, however late a prospective student makes a decision – let this reassure you. Any really late applications that come in, ie in July or August, will go automatically go into the Clearing system used by students who fail to get the grades they need in their A Levels, and it is very possible that they will get on to a course. The big question, of course, is whether this will be the right course in the right place, and whether it will actually suit and benefit your child … The long term stats show that a university degree is (almost) always worth it, but not under just any circumstances, or at any cost.

So … if your child is not getting offers of university places, see this as an opportunity to pause, think and reflect on the next steps. Seek as much advice as you can, and start having honest conversations with your child. Whatever the final outcome, you cannot go wrong with this approach. 

Dr Helen Wright is a former Head of a leading UK public school and is part of the William Clarence Education Advisory Board. 

For more information on how our specialist UCAS Advisors can help you find the right University course for your child, contact our Family Services team today.

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