I know the jigsaw is a dull and much-used analogy, so just for fun, let's over-extend the metaphor - I see the whole UCAS situation as one of those typical jigsaws beloved of old ladies, showing a scene of a nineteenth century farmyard, with trees and sky in the rear.
The results that Perran and Carenza will get are pretty much like the carthorse and chickens in the foreground - definite and distinct and easy to piece together. The universities however, are more like pieces of sky – it’s not always so easy to choose between. So in an effort to locate a piece of sky with a distinguishing mark (like, say, a swallow), I’ve asked Carenza to ring one of her candidate universities and ask them how flexible they are if somebody who picks them as reserve drops a grade.
She said, “Okay, I’ll do that, just as soon as I can fight my way out of this metaphor.”