Changed your mind about your course? There’s another route to apply for higher education

You have probably heard quite a lot about the UCAS Clearing system? But have you heard about Extra, which is just as valuable? It's especially important for those of you who have changed your mind about your courses since you first made your application. Maybe the universities or colleges you picked have turned you down. If so, Extra is for you. Last year, more than 5,500 applicants got a place through Extra.

So what exactly is Extra, and how do you know if you can use it? If you have applied through UCAS, used all five choices on your application and aren't holding any offers, you might be able to apply through Extra for another course. Extra lets you apply for courses with vacancies between the end of February and the end of June. In Extra, you apply for one course at a time using Track.

Extra started on 25 February, so is open now. If you are eligible, a button will appear on the "choices" page of your Track screen. This means that you can apply for a course through Extra. As well as appearing in the listings below, you can go to www.ucas.com and search for vacancies through Course Search.

Course Search will tell you which courses have vacancies – an "x" will be displayed next to any available courses. Before you apply, it's a good idea to contact the institution to make sure they can consider you.

It's also worthwhile to check Course Search to see if there is an entry profile for the course, because some will tell you what the university or college looks for in their students, and might also have case studies from students who have taken the course. Once you've chosen a course and entered the details in Track, UCAS will send your application to the university or college.

It's very important that you research the course before you decide to apply for it. For instance, if you applied for a course that was in high demand and you were unsuccessful, you could consider related or alternative subjects. If you are unsure, speak to one of your teachers or a careers adviser.

So what's the next step? If you are offered a place, you can choose whether or not to accept it.

If you accept an offer, you are committed to it, which means that you cannot apply anywhere else. You will need to reply to your offer by the date shown in Track.

If you decline an offer, or the university or college turns you down, you can apply for a different choice through Extra (time permitting). Your Extra button in Track will be reactivated. You can also apply for a different choice if you haven't received a decision from your Extra choice within 21 days of applying to them.

If you don't get an offer in Extra, don't worry. You can apply through the UCAS Clearing process, which gives you another chance to apply for vacancies.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to call the UCAS customer service unit on 0871 468 0468.

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