Thursday 26 April 2018

Now it's decision time: How to accept your CAO offer

It is the easiest thing in the world to accept a CAO offer. It can be done from any corner of the world, even without trips to post offices.

Offers may be accepted either online or by post. There is no acceptance fee or deposit on registration fees required at the time of accepting the offer.

CAO published all offers on its website at 6am this morning and many students may have already viewed their offers and accepted them online.

Last year (2009), 22,000 acceptances were registered online by the end of the first day, Monday.

All applicants will receive a formal offer notice by post with clear instructions on how to proceed with the acceptance.

CAO emphasises, however, that an acceptance should be made in only one way, either online or by post.

You may receive two offers

Many applicants will receive more than one offer, because CAO issues offers independently in respect of honours degrees (Level 8 list), and ordinary degrees/higher certificates (Level 7/Level 6 list).

It is possible, therefore, for applicants to receive two offers simultaneously if they applied to both categories

At the end of any given round, however, a person may have accepted only one offer. A person might accept their Level 8 honours degree offer, for example.

They might then change their mind before the closing time of that round and decide that they would have preferred their Level 7/Level 6 (ordinary degree/higher certificate) offer instead.

They may still accept that offer before the reply date set out on the offer notice. A later acceptance cancels and supersedes any previous acceptance.

Remember to retain proof of acceptance

The closing date for offers in round one is Monday, August 30 by 5.15pm.

CAO reminds all applicants that they should retain some evidence that they have accepted their offer.

In the case of applicants accepting online, they must follow the procedure right down to the last page on the screen where they are instructed to print out their receipt.

That receipt is proof of their acceptance. In 2009, over 95pc of all acceptances were made online.

If applicants are posting a traditional paper acceptance, they should go to the post office and get a certificate of postage.

The CAO handbook contains four pre-printed certificates of postage on the inside back cover of the handbook, so if you bring that with you all that the post office official will have to do is stamp it.

Retain that as evidence of postage.

If you received no offer

If applicants are not entitled to any offer from CAO in this first round, they will receive a letter in which they will be told that, unfortunately, CAO has not been authorised to make them an offer of any of their chosen courses.

CAO will also send them a statement of their application record, so that they can verify that CAO has the correct details of their application.

The first thought of applicants who receive no offer, or who receive an offer of one of their lower preference choices, is “What are my chances of an offer (or a higher preference offer) in a later round?”

There is no certainty that those without offers today will receive an offer later on, but inevitably some of them will.

Participating colleges authorise CAO to offer all available places in this first round.

In fact, in their attempts to fill all the places, college admissions officers usually make more offers through CAO in round one than there are places to fill.

Inevitably, however, some courses end up with vacancies, and offers of these places are issued to the applicants next on the waiting list for that course.

CAO issues a formal second round of offers to arrive in students’ homes on Thursday, September 2, and again these offers may be viewed and accepted online.

After the close of round two, which is Wednesday, September 8 by 5.15pm, offers of vacancies will be made on a day-to-day basis.

The CAO season continues until mid-October each year, and CAO issues offers as long as the colleges instruct them to do so.

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