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Accepting 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, without trips even 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 today and many students may have already viewed their offers and accepted them online.

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.


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 may accept their Level 8 honours degree offer, for example. They may 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 get a certificate of postage from the post office.

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.

if you receive 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 the 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 tomorrow 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.

How to contact CAO

It is not possible for CAO to handle telephone or fax calls at this stage. All applicants receive with their offer notice an enquiry form on which to submit any questions. CAO will deal with such queries straight away.

Before sending away your query, however, you should check that the answer is not to be found in the handbook.

It is also possible to email a query to CAO. If you enter their website and click on "Contact Us", you will be led into a page that gives answers to frequently asked questions.

If you do not find the answer to your query there, you are directed to proceed to email CAO by clicking on a blue bar at the end of the page.

Allow CAO time to deal with your query. It promises to reply to queries by the end of the next working day.