Durham University

PVC Colleges & Student Experience Office

How the College Allocations Process Works

The undergraduate college allocation process is automatic and detailed below for clarity. As soon as a departmental decision to make an offer is recorded, applicants become eligible for college allocation.

When the automatic process is set in motion the following steps are followed;

a) Applicants are sorted into two groups, those who originally expressed a preference (which will be recorded on the application record) and those who originally made an open (O) application.

b) The preference group is ordered randomly.

c) Starting with the first applicant record in the preference group, the process looks at the college preference and attempts to make an accept decision for that college. If sufficient offers are available for the academic department from where they hold an offer then this will succeed.

d) If the limit for the number of offers for a department in a specific college have been reached, the applicant will be passed to a temporary holding table.

e) This process repeats until all applicants in the preference group have either been accepted or passed to the holding table.

f) The process then repeats steps B to E for the applicants who had made an open application.

g) There will now be a holding table containing applicants for whom the process was unable to make a decision based on preference.

h) The process now moves systematically down the table and for each applicant, it randomly orders the colleges, then attempts to make an accept decision for the first college in the list. If sufficient offers are available this will succeed.

i) If all available offers for a department have been made for a college, the process will move on to the next college in the randomly ordered list and try again.

j) This step repeats until a successful accept decision is made.

k) The process then moves to the next record in the holding table and repeats steps H to J.

At the end of this process, all applicants with offers from a department will have been accepted at a college. The process will then run at regular intervals and allocate future applicants who receive later departmental offers accordingly.

The automatic process uses offer factors worked out by the Recruitment and Admissions Office for both Home/EU and Overseas/Islands. These offer factors calculate the number of offers required, based on historical statistical evidence, to fill the place. This differs by department.