In a perfect scenario, Year 12 is your best year yet. You know exactly which course you’d like to study and where, and you listed your dream course in first place on your preferences list on your uni application. Your application is submitted on time, with no dramas.
After your exams (which of course went great too), you patiently sit back and wait for the ATAR release date. Your ATAR is exactly what you had hoped for – or better – and a few days later you receive an offer to study the course you wanted.
Unfortunately, life isn’t always straight forward and who knows what could happen – it is 2020 after all.
But what if you don’t receive an offer for your first preference; you don’t get any offers at all; or you receive an offer for your first preference but change you’ve changed your mind and want to study something else?
We’re here explain the process and your options, so that you can adjust your plans if you need to and keep moving forward.
Our simple Flowchart for starters
For simplicity’s sake, we’ve created an offers flowchart. Follow the prompts to see your options.
YES – you can accept an offer in the main round and still wait for other offers in future rounds.
You can bank your offers if you receive more than one. If that’s the case, you’ll then get to choose which offer best suits you and enrol for that course and remember to simply withdraw from, or decline, the other offers.
Important: remember to withdraw offers you accepted but don’t want to study anymore before the census date – or you could find yourself paying for more than one lot of uni fees.
Need more help?
For more information about changing preferences, the key dates, etc., you can download our 2020 guide here.
If you applied to a uni through direct entry, then call the admissions office and one of the staff will be able to advise you.
Good luck and best wishes from all the Study Work Grow team.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about University offers and your options
When are offers released?
If you applied through a TAC, check their key dates calendar for offer rounds. If you applied through direct entry to a university, you’ll need to check with them when their main offer round or any later offer rounds happen.
What happens if I don’t get my first preference?
After working hard all year, making the tough choice about which tertiary courses to apply for and which one deserves the number one position. Then the anticipation of waiting for ATARs and waiting for the offers rounds to roll around…it could be really disheartening if you don’t receive an offer.
Don’t take it personally, harness your resilience, and prepare to bounce back, because you still have time and plenty of options.
- You could leave your preferences alone and wait to see if you receive an offer in the second or subsequent rounds (check the TAC websites for key dates). Sometimes universities allocate a few spots for the second round, or places might open up if offers made in the first round aren’t accepted or the recipient defers their offer to study.
- If your ATAR is above or very close to the course cut-off, and you meet all the other course requirements such as subject prerequisites, you’ll still be eligible to receive a place. It might be a good idea to contact the university and/or TAC to discuss your options and how best to proceed.
- If one of your preferences had slightly lower entry requirements, you could re-order your preferences before the next offer round and see if you receive an offer for that course.
How will I know if I have received an offer?
Usually these days you’ll receive an email. So keep an eye on the email address that you put on your university applications and check it on the main offer dates.
If you don’t have access to email, contact the TAC or university directly and they’ll help you to come up with an alternative. Have your application ID number ready when you call them.
I received an offer for my first preference, will I get any more offers?
You could receive more offers, but that depends on you. If you don’t change your course preferences and put another course in the top position, then no – you won’t receive any more offers in future rounds.
If for any reason you’re having second thoughts about enrolling in the course you had as you first preference, you can rearrange your preferences and be eligible to receive offers from future rounds. Just make sure you make your changes before any cut-off dates if you want to be considered.
5. How many offers can I receive in each round?
You can only receive one offer per round.
If you’re lucky enough to get an offer in one round, you should accept it. You can then change your preferences and if you receive an offer in a later round, you’ll need to:
- keep your previous offer and not accept your new offer, or
- accept your new offer and withdraw from the course you’ve already accepted.
6. Who decides which students will receive an offer?
Universities are responsible for deciding which applicants will receive an offer. If you applied through a TAC, they won’t choose who gets offers or influence any of the decision making.
7. I didn’t get an offer even though I was eligible, why not?
If your ATAR was above the course cut-off and you had all the prerequisites for the course in your first preference place, but you didn’t receive an offer, you’ll need to contact the admissions office at the university you applied to for answers. Most likely they had more applications for the course than the number of places available and you may have just missed out.
If you contact the admissions office, they’ll be able to talk you through your options too.
I’m not too sure if I want to accept my offer, what should I do?
Did you get an offer? Excellent! That’s really good news, even if it isn’t for your first preference.
Don’t let disappointment rule your decisions. Research the course you’ve been offered a place on and see if it might work out for you. You can also contact the university to discuss if enrolling in that course could provide a pathway into your preferred course (the one at number 1 in your preference list).
For example, starting an arts course could be a pathway into law, or enrolling in an undergraduate health sciences degree could make you eligible for graduate entry into medicine.
Bank the offer (make sure you note the cut-off date for accepting it) and wait for other rounds to see if you get an offer for your first preference course, or another one that you’d prefer. That way at least you have a Plan B already in place to fall back on.
I didn’t receive an offer, what happens now?
Didn’t get an offer in the first round? No problem, hold on and wait to see if you’re successful in round two.
You could consider changing your preferences and putting a less popular course, or a course with different prerequisites and a lower cut-off into first place.
Stressing out is only natural, but it won’t be helpful. So perhaps you could spend your time more wisely and research alternative pathways. Arrange a one-on-one consultation with an advisor from the university you’d like to attend or sign up for some of the change of preference sessions to get more help.
If you applied through a TAC, give them a call too. If you give your permission, they may be able to send your name out to universities to be considered in any supplementary offer rounds.
I received an offer, but I’ve changed my mind and want to study a different course. What can I do?
Great, you got an offer. Firstly, our advice would be don’t reject it straight away – hold on to it as a backup option.
Next, check the deadlines for change of preferences for your state if you’ve applied by TAC, or universities if you applied directly. Place the course you’d really like to do in first place on your preferences and wait to see if you get an offer in the next round.
If there are no more offer rounds left, it’s still not time to panic. You could contact the university you’d like to study with and ask them for some advice. You might be still be able to apply directly or find another pathway to help you get into the course you’d love to do.
Give your Tertiary Admissions Centre (TAC) a call too, they’ll be able to advise you about other options.
11. I received an offer to a course I didn’t apply for, how come?
Sometimes universities might not be able to offer you a place for your first preference on your application, but they have another course or pathway that they think might suit you and that you’re eligible for.
Consider researching the course and contact the university to discuss your options with an advisor before rejecting your offer.
How do I accept an offer?
Congratulations on receiving an offer. But being offered a place doesn’t mean you’ve automatically been enrolled onto the course.
To secure your place, you’ll need to confirm your acceptance before a cut-off date and then follow the university instructions on how to go ahead with your enrolment. Failure to accept and enrol in time could mean that you lose your spot.
If you don’t receive the information you need along with your offer, contact the university as soon as possible to find out what you should do next.
How do I decline an offer?
If you got an offer but you don’t want to accept it, you can decline. That way the university won’t hold the spot for you, and it could then be offered to another student waiting for a place.
Even if it’s a course you really don’t want to do, before you reject your offer too hastily consider:
- Do you have any other offers in place? If not, think about banking your offer and researching the course in more detail. Contact the university to check if it could be a pathway to into a more desirable course.
- Are you 100% certain you don’t want to do the course even if you don’t receive any other offers?
If you’re sure you don’t want to accept the offer, you simply don’t have to do anything. Yep, you read that right, it’s really that easy.
By not enrolling on the course by the date and time specified in your offer, it will automatically lapse.
Remember: don’t reject an offer if you’re just hoping for a better one in another round, as there’s no guarantee that you’ll receive another offer.
What is enrolment?
Enrolment is your official admission into a university course. You’ll need to enrol to accept your offer of a place and be eligible to study at the start of the semester. By enrolling you’re agreeing to the terms of your offer and you’ll be liable for the fees due for your course.
Enrolment details are different at each university and you’ll receive specific instructions on how to go about it along with your offer.
Make sure you decide if you want to accept the offer and enrol, then do it before the cut-off date lapses, otherwise you could lose your spot.
What if I get a better offer after I have enrolled on another course?
If you get an offer for a course that you’d prefer to do, after you’ve already enrolled at a university, you can still accept the new offer by enrolling in the course.
It’s really important that once you’ve enrolled in the new course, you withdraw your enrolment from any previous offers, otherwise you may end up paying two sets of course fees.
To withdraw an enrolment, you’ll need to contact the university for instructions. There’ll be a formal process to follow, but you won’t be in any trouble. You may even receive a refund for any fees that you have already paid. Bear in mind though each university is different, and you might have to pay for admin fees or other charges.
Can I defer my place?
Got an offer but decided you’d like to take a gap year before you dive back into studying?
Some universities will allow you to defer you offer and start the following year (or semester). However, not all universities offer this option, or they may allow it for some courses, but not all.
To find out what’s possible and what you’ll need to do if deferring is an option, you’ll need to contact the university directly. Make sure you do so as soon as possible after receiving your offer.
Usually, you need to submit a written request to defer. You may need to complete official forms, or even enrol.
What if I’m not able to enrol when I’m supposed to?
If you’re not able to get to your enrolment on the date specified, contact your university as soon as possible to see what options you have. For example, you may be able to authorise somebody else to enrol for you.
If that’s an option, make sure you provide all the enrolment instructions and a list of subjects you want to enrol in to your authorised person (and thank them profusely).
I’ve missed my enrolment date, what can I do now?
If you haven’t enrolled by a certain date, the university will assume you don’t want your place and your offer will expire. If this happens by accident and you really do want to accept your offer, contact the university immediately. They’ll do their best to help you out, and if there’s still places left on the course you might still be able to enrol.