What is Adjustment?
Adjustment is a process organised through UCAS which allows students who have met and exceeded the conditions of their firm university choice to take up an alternative offer. This means students have achieved better results in their exams than expected can look into attending a higher ranked University or course compared to the existing place they hold an offer for. Adjustment is separate from Clearing (which accommodates students who have not met the conditions of their offer).
Adjustment opens on A-Level results day and closes at the end of the August. However, from the moment your firm conditional offer becomes an unconditional offer on UCAS Track (i.e. you have been accepted at your firm University) - you have just 5 days (including weekends) to use Adjustment to find an alternative course. hence, if you feel you may be eligible for Adjustment come results day, it is advisable to review your options and prepare beforehand - if you don't, you are likely to find yourself rushed into making some big decisions in a very short space of time.
Although at face value attending a "better" University may sound like a more desirable option, you need to consider the time, research and reasons that you put into applying to, and accepting the offer from, your current firm University choice. Adjustment is an entirely optional process - if you choose not to enter it, or don't find an alternative course through it, you will still keep the place for which you were accepted on results day. You will only lose your original choice if you confirm an offer from a new University, and they add themselves to your UCAS application.
On Results Day
When you receive your exam results on result day, you will know whether you are eligible for Adjustment. To "meet and exceed" your offer conditions you must have met every part of your offer and exceeded at least one of the grades - e.g. for an AAB offer, achieving AAA would make you eligible for Adjustment, however A*AC would not as the B grade would not have been met. If you are eligible for Adjustment, a "Register for Adjustment" button will appear on your UCAS Track. Once you register through this, any institution you contact will be able to view the details on your UCAS application, which they will use to consider whether to make you an offer.
Finding a Course
Unlike Clearing, there are no vacancy lists for Adjustment places, so you will need to check University websites and contact their admissions offices directly to discuss possible course vacancies and their grade requirements. Be sure to tell them you've exceeded you expected results and are applying through Adjustment, not Clearing, and have your UCAS Personal ID number to hand.
Note: you can contact any institution regardless of whether or not you have applied there previously.
Talking to Universities
Expect a short interview-style conversation when you phone the admissions departments - so be ready to explain why you want to do the course, and why you'd like to enrol at that University in particular. Perhaps also enquire about accommodation - ask whether there are still rooms left in halls, and whether the University offer Adjustment students accommodation guarantees. If the new University offer you a place, do not be pressured into making a decision there and then before you're ready. You can tell them you will get back once you have thought about it. If you verbally agree to accept their offer, they will process this on UCAS Track and will lose your existing firm choice, so only confirm the offer if you're absolutely sure you want it.
If you think you’ll achieve better results than your firm offer and are considering entering Adjustment, then there are steps you can take before results day to reduce stress and hassle on the day itself:
• Research, consider and list which institutions you would be genuinely interested in going to, and whether they are expected to have vacancies available through Adjustment. If they have been involved in Adjustment in previous years, you might reasonably expect them to have Adjustment spaces this year, too.
• Research the specific course at the university you are considering applying to through Adjustment – the syllabi of courses vary greatly from University to University – and it may be the case that the content of the course at the more prestigious University simply doesn’t suit you as well as the course content of your existing firm choice. The course syllabus will be central to your academic life, and you don’t want to spend three or four years studying for a degree the content of which does not inspire you.
• Seek advice not just from family and friends, who may try to say only what they think you want to hear, or from universities who want to fill up their course spaces, but from impartial sources. Teachers and advisers/tutors at school or college can offer help on whether Adjustment is for you, or you can phone a UCAS helpline to discuss your options.
• Phone universities speculatively before results day – although they can’t make offers before Adjustment opens, they may be able to provide information about their application process, telephone numbers of the departments to ring on the day, which courses they expect to have Adjustment places in, and their entry requirements.
• Visit universities you’re interested in – they will likely accommodate showing you round, or alternatively attend an open day – many institutions have open days the weekend after results day. Nothing will give a better feel for the university than actually visiting it.
• Get important information ready and written down before results day – write down phone numbers for the admissions departments of the Universities you’re interested in, as well as your Personal ID number and AS Level and GCSE results. Print out and re-read your personal statement, and prepare some answers for interview-style questions the admissions tutor may ask you about your interests, experience and motivation.
• Some universities request you send them an email with your application information, in addition to a phone call. Draft an email which includes your UCAS Personal ID number, details of the course you are interested in, and your academic background (schools, subjects, grades), so it is ready to send on results day if requested.
Finally, if you’re happy with your existing firm university, then stick with it. You will have already arranged accommodation there, visited open days, sorted out student finance, and prepared yourself for the next three or more years at your firm choice. Adjustment is entirely optional, and is perhaps better suited to students whose firm university wasn’t really their ideal choice, or whose predicted grades weren’t high enough to allow them to apply to the university they really wanted to go to. Adjustment allows you to reconsider your options, but in a space of 5 days rather than the year or so you spent preparing your UCAS application.