How long does it take for universities to reply to your application?
It might feel like it's taking forever for your uni offers to come through. Find out what's going on, and when you should hear back
Once you've submitted your university application, the waiting game begins.
It might be that within days you hear back with either an offer, an invitation to an interview or (hopefully not) a rejection. On the other hand, they could leave you hanging for months.
It all depends on when you applied and how that university course chooses to make offers.
So take a break from checking Ucas Hub every hour, and allow us to help shed some light on when you can expect universities to reply to your application...
I've been waiting ages...when's the latest a university will reply?
Although they don't have to reply straight away, universities do have some deadlines (set by Ucas) by which time they should respond to applications. The exact deadline will depend on when you submitted your application.
These are the deadlines Ucas has given universities for making offers for 2024 entry, but you could also hear back before these dates:
- Thursday 16 May 2024 if you send your application by the 31 January 2024 deadline
- Wednesday 17 July 2024 if you send your application by 30 June 2024
How universities handle decisions and what it means for you
You’ll probably find that you and your friends receive responses back at different times, with different universities and courses acting sooner than others. Some responses might come through after a few days, but it might end up being 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 the end of June, or may continue to make rolling offers until the July deadline.
It all depends on how the university or department you're applying to deals with applications. To find out more, we spoke to several different universities about their approach.
1. Post-deadline, post-interview decisions
Cambridge has a 'winter pool' for strong applicants who applied to a college that is over-subscribed (meaning there are more applicants than places available) for their particular course. These 'pooled' applicants are considered by other colleges at the university; some will ultimately be offered a place to study their chosen course at one of these other colleges.
2. Rolling decisions
Here’s what a few different unis told us:
- ‘All applicants should hear back [from us] within two to three weeks of applying.’
- ‘All applicants should receive an offer or an invitation to interview [from us] within 10 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.’
Many universities will use a mix of the two approaches above, depending on the course.
Everyone else has got their replies...but not me
As one medical school admissions tutor bluntly explains: "We’re busy, get over it!"
Keep an eye on Ucas Hub
We have a guide to the different university offers you may receive. You can also dig deeper into what an unconditional offer really means – they're not quite as straightforward as they might sound.
I've got all my offers, what now?
Once you have all your offers, the ball is back in your court: it's decision time. You’ll need to make your firm and insurance choices based on the offers you've received. You've got some new deadlines to consider now.
- If you heard back from all your choices by Thursday 16 May 2024, you need to reply with your firm and insurance options by Thursday 6 June 2024 (unless you're using Ucas Extra to find a place)
- If you heard back from all your choices by Wednesday 17 July 2024, you need to reply with your firm and insurance options by Wednesday 24 July 2024 (this includes those using Ucas Extra)
And if your number one university doesn't make you an offer, pick yourself back up and decide what to do next – whether that's accepting another offer, or going through the Ucas Extra or Clearing schemes instead.