We’ve put together this handy guide to help you understand how to make the most out of the clearing process.
If you’re not entirely sure what clearing is then don’t worry - our go-to guide will help you understand the steps involved and the ways to ensure you make the best decision for you.
What is clearing?
From 5 July to 30 September, higher education institutions and colleges will be offering places on courses that still have spaces. This process is called ‘Clearing’. These spaces are for students who didn’t get any offers, applied too late, or didn’t meet the conditions of their offers because their exam results weren’t what they expected.
The busiest day in clearing is A Level Results Day, which is 15 August in England, and 6 August in Scotland.
Top tips for clearing
If your exams didn’t go to plan and you think you might end up in Clearing, be prepared and get ahead of the game by researching alternative places where you might like to study before A Level results day. This means when you get your results, you can phone up straight away and you are more likely to get one of the limited places available.
Even if you aren’t expecting to end up in clearing, getting up early on A Level results day is a good way to ensure you are prepared if it does happen to you. Visit UCAS to get details of the latest university course vacancies so you know what options are open to you.
Search for vacancies using the UCAS search tool.
Do your research
It’s easy to panic after finding out that you need to apply through clearing, but there’s no need to get in a flap. It’s important to stay calm and rationally decide where you want to spend the next few years of your life studying - and don’t just jump at the first place you see on the UCAS website.
Do some research into the course, what sort of modules will you be studying? How is the course examined - is it all coursework, or are there exams? What extracurricular student activities are available? Is the city big, or small? Check what entitlement to accommodation and bursaries you have as a Clearing applicant. It’s important that you feel confident that you will enjoy the course, and could see yourself living in the city you are thinking of applying to. If you don’t do your research at this stage you could be in for a shock later on.
It is advisable to speak to a parent or guardian, or even your friends, to discuss what course and institution would best meet your needs. You shouldn’t go through clearing just for the sake of going to university - don’t forget you can always defer and apply again the following year!
Once you have found a course you’re interested in, give the uni or institution a call to make sure you meet the entry requirements and they still have vacancies.
Organisation and preparation are key
Before you call to enquire about a place on a course, make sure you have everything you need
- Your UCAS Clearing number (from UCAS Track)
- The course code, name and details of the course you want to apply for
- Your A level and GCSE results, including module marks
- Your personal statement
- A list of any questions you have about accommodation and bursaries
- Your own contact number for universities to call you back
It may be helpful to write yourself a script of what you want to say, particularly if you find making phone calls daunting. Have a drink of water to hand if you're nervous.
It’s important that you phone the universities yourself, they can’t speak to your parent or guardian on your behalf. After all you are going to need to do things independently if you are going to university!
Keep a record of your conversations
Make sure you are making any calls in a quiet room where you won’t be disturbed. Have a pen and paper to take notes of any key information about the requirements or an offer, and get the name of the person you are talking to in case you need to get back in touch.
If an institution gives you a verbal offer, ask them to confirm their offer and how long it stands for in an email. This will ensure you are covered in the unlikely eventuality that there are problems with your Clearing application being accepted by the university.
Take your time to decide - it’s an important decision!
Most importantly, don’t worry and remember to take time to consider any clearing offers. It doesn’t have to be a panicked decision, most institutions will give you a couple of days.
If you end up on a reserve list, it is important to demonstrate continued interest by continuing to call the university to see if there are any places available for you.
If an institution does offer you a place and you want to accept it, add the Clearing choice in UCAS Track. When you sign in, if you’re eligible for Clearing, in the ‘Next Steps’ section you’ll be given an option to ‘Add a Clearing choice.’
It’s OK to verbally accept more than one offer - but you can only apply for one choice at a time through Clearing. Once a choice has been selected, you cannot add another, unless you’ve been unsuccessful with the first one. If you want to apply elsewhere once you’ve added a choice, then you need to ask that uni to cancel your place so you’re able to apply again through Clearing.
Only enter a Clearing choice on Track if you have spoken to an insitution, and they have provisionally offered you a place on the course - otherwise you will get rejected and reduce your chances of being accepted elsewhere.
If you have any questions or queries about the Clearing process, email our friendly Admissions team at firstname.lastname@example.org
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