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I've received offers from two UK universities (Masters degree), first conditional and second unconditional. There's always a possibility that I won't meet conditions so I'd like to keep the second university as a back-up. Is it possible to do it like this, that I accept both offers and after I meet conditions, I will let the second university know, that I decided not to start studying?

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Offers of what? Undergraduate admission? Graduate fellowships? Jobs? – Nate Eldredge Mar 17 '14 at 23:26
I'm sorry I didn't specify, postgraduate, MSc. – wec Mar 17 '14 at 23:58

3 Answers 3

up vote 25 down vote accepted


In principle, you could do that, but it's not advisable, for the simple reason that if either school finds out you've accepted another offer, then both schools could end up rescinding their offers, and would be within their rights to do so. (Programs want to know how many spots they have filled, so that they can accept more people if needed to meet their enrollment targets.)

Basically, you need to commit to one school only. If the offer is conditional, then you should weigh the probability of meeting those conditions before accepting the offer.

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You can also ask the second school how they would feel about this. If they are sufficiently interested in you that they are willing to risk your not attending if the conditional acceptance works out at the other university, then you're all set. If they do not approve of the idea, then you shouldn't do it. – Anonymous Mathematician Mar 17 '14 at 20:29
I guess that's probably for the best. – wec Mar 17 '14 at 20:35
I found this forum that discusses exactly the same question. They say it's quite common that postgraduates accept two or more offers and later on let a university know that they received better offer. What do you think about that? Are there any legal obligations? – wec Mar 18 '14 at 0:02
Even if it were common, I'd say it isn't ethical. – keshlam Oct 4 at 15:01

Yes, for UK undergraduate admissions, you can accept two offers at once - but no more!

One will be your first choice; if you don't meet the conditions, then you have a shot at the second one. So in your case, you would put the conditional offer first, and the unconditional one as your "insurance". (The other way round doesn't make sense, as you can't possibly miss the conditions on the unconditional offer!) You could also just accept one offer.

Make your choices carefully, because the subsequent process is automatic - if you meet the conditions then that's where you're going, unless you manage to convince the university to release you. That is technically possible but should under no circumstances be relied on as a strategy.

For more details, see Replying to your offers on the UCAS website.

I have assumed you are applying to become an undergraduate, as the language of conditional and unconditional offers is particularly associated with this system, and is very standard. If you are applying for a postgraduate position, or for a job, then please disregard this answer.

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I've applied for postgraduate so unfortunately, it's not the case. – wec Mar 17 '14 at 23:52
Oh, OK - then the answer by aeismail is correct, and the comment below by Anonymous Mathematician is also true. – James T Mar 17 '14 at 23:53
What do you think about this: They say it's common to accept two or more offers. – wec Mar 18 '14 at 13:43
@wec - It can be done, in that universities can't literally force you to show up, so if you tell them you've changed your mind then they have to accept that. (Assuming at that point you haven't already signed paperwork, paid fees, etc.) But it is not good to put yourself in a situation where you know you will have to break your word to one of the institutions. Better to follow Anonymous Mathematician's advice and ask directly. – James T Mar 18 '14 at 15:08
Fundamentally, people in charge of admissions do not like it when applicants try to game the system (and they may well remember it if you later try to apply for a PhD at the same place, for example). They are much happier about answering questions and being kept informed. – James T Mar 18 '14 at 15:19

You can accept as many offers as you wish, but all your chosen universities can find out about any places you’ve accepted through UKPASS. To be fair to other applicants, when you’ve definitely decided which place to take up, inform the university. They will then change the status of your application to enrolled to tell the other unis you won’t not be taking up any other places.

See the UCAS website for further details and official information.

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