How long does it take for universities to reply to your application?
When can you expect a university to reply (with an offer, hopefully!)? As our guide explains, response times on decisions can vary...
It could be a matter of days, or months before you hear back from a university about your application, whether that's an offer, invitation to an interview or rejection (hopefully not). It all depends on when you applied and how that university course chooses to make offers.
So stop refreshing Ucas Track every hour, and read on for the insider view on when you can expect university offers to come out...
Ucas deadline: last-minute advice, plus what's around the corner...
When's the latest a university will reply to me by?
Well, that depends – sorry to be vague again.
Based on information that's been released – and how things worked last year – below is a rough guide to the latest you can expect to receive a response or offer from a university, so you can plan out the next few months:
- Early May if you send your application by the 15 January deadline.
- Mid July if you send your application by 30 June.
- End of October if you've applied through Clearing.
Full key dates and deadlines – set a reminder for these!
That said, you’ll probably find that you (and your friends) receive responses back at different times, with different universities and courses acting sooner than others. It might be within a few days, but equally it might be a few weeks or even months.
Most of the time you’ll hear back before the end of March, but some courses stay open until right through until the end of June, or may continue to make rolling offers until the July deadline.
If you're applying to Oxbridge, things are slightly different. As you'll see below, how a university handles applications will affect when you can expect a reply or offer to be made.
How universities handle decisions and what it means for you
1. Post-deadline, post-interview
The Oxford website actually states that shortlisted applicants will know if they've been accepted on 14 January.
Cambridge have a 'winter pool' for strong applicants who've applied to a college that is over-subscribed (ie there are more applicants than places available) for their particular course. Applicants who are pooled are then considered by all colleges over a few days at the start of January. Applicants may be required to attend an interview by a college considering them, offered a place immediately, or even taken back by their original college choice.
2. Rolling decisions
Here’s what a few different unis told us:
- ‘All applicants should hear back within two to three weeks of applying.’
- ‘All applicants should receive an offer or an invitation to interview within ten working days.’
- ‘We try to respond to all applications within a matter of weeks, but this does vary between departments and depends on the number of applications received at that time.’
3. Best of both
Some universities deliberately use a mixture of approaches. Admissions tutors for really competitive courses may wait until all applications are in, to ensure everyone receives equal consideration; meanwhile tutors at the same university looking after a course with typically fewer applicants might make decisions on a rolling basis.
'I've still not heard back!'
- Still waiting? Stay one step ahead, crack on with these
Keep an eye on your emails
Check out our guide to the different university offers you may receive, plus dig deeper into what an unconditional offer really means – they're not quite as straightforward as they sound.
'I've got all my offers, what now?'
Once you have all your offers back, the ball is back in your court: decision time. You’ll need to make your firm and insurance choices based on the offers you've received.
If your number one university didn't make you an offer, pick yourself back up and see what to do next, whether that's accepting another offer, or going through Ucas Extra or Clearing schemes instead.