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Everything You Need to Know About Clearing

Posted in Student Life by on November 24, 2019

For those of you looking to go to university this year, finding out whether you’ve been successful can be a pretty tense moment. On this day, it’ll become clear if the hours of studying and sleepless nights have paid off. But if things don’t go as planned, that’s OK too.

This post is all about Clearing, a process that can help students who haven’t had an offer from their desired institutions find another course. To help you through it, we’ve created a guide to the Clearing process and how to prepare for it.


What is Clearing?

Clearing is an opportunity for students who don’t have a confirmed university place to review their options. Whether your first choices didn’t quite work out or you weren’t sure what you wanted to study when applications went in, Clearing is the chance to secure your place when term starts in the autumn.

Clearing is how universities and colleges fill any places they still have on their courses, so it’s the best way for you to find another course if you were unsuccessful the first time around. Find the courses and vacancies that interest you, contact the universities or colleges that have vacancies directly, and see if they offer you a place.


Female college student checking text scores on bulletin board in corridor


Who is eligible to apply through Clearing?

You should be eligible for Clearing if you fulfil one of the below requirements:

  • You’ve applied this year and received no offers.
  • You have missed the conditions of your university offers.
  • You’ve turned down all the offers, but you haven’t withdrawn from UCAS.
  • UCAS received your application after 30th June.


When does Clearing take place?

Clearing begins on 1st July and ends on 21st September. However, it gets into full swing around A-level Results Day, which means you can’t start applying without knowing your marks. Most universities wait until 15th August to start listing vacancies.


What happens during the Clearing process?

If you haven’t applied yet, you’ll need to complete a UCAS application, including a personal statement and a reference. Once you’ve done that, you’ll receive a confirmation email with your Clearing number which can be used to access UCAS Track, where you can keep up to date with your progress. Once you have this information you can begin contacting universities.


Young woman working on laptop


How do you know when you’re in the Clearing process?

You’ll know that you’re in Clearing if your Track status says ‘You are in Clearing’ or ‘Clearing has started’. Alternatively, you can follow the on-screen prompts to decline your firm place, and your Track status should then say ‘You are in Clearing’ or ‘Clearing has started’.

If Track doesn’t say either of these yet, it might be waiting for your results to update. It’s worth getting in touch with the university if things are taking a while; they might still be considering you, even if your results are a bit lower than required.

If you applied for one course for the reduced fee of £18, you’ll have to pay an additional £6 to apply through Clearing.

If you’re a performing arts student, then it’s worth noting that UCAS Conservatoires do not use Clearing to fill vacancies. You can find available courses and spaces by searching on the UCAS website; you’ll also be required to check with the conservatoire itself if they’re accepting applications before applying to them.


University admissions team


How can you prepare for Clearing?

With Clearing, ‘first come, first served’ applies. Therefore, to maximise your chances, there are a few things you can do ahead of time:

  • Talk to an advisor at your school, college or careers office – they’ll be able to provide advice on alternative courses and subjects.
  • List all the universities and courses you’re interested in. Consider looking at different subjects too; you’re not bound by your original ideas. Joint honours courses might all be an option as well, allowing you to study a mix of subjects.
  • Talk to any unis or colleges you’re interested in. Before you add a Clearing choice in Track, call the university and give them your Clearing number and personal ID, so they can look up your application. While you have them, request the following:
  • Ask if they’d accept you – they might reconsider you (maybe for the same course) even if you applied to them earlier in the year.
  • Get informal offers over the phone, potentially from a variety of universities and colleges, then decide which one you want to accept.
  • Ask about accommodation options – are there any on campus?
  • Take a look around the campus – if you have the time, it’s the best way to see what a university/college is like. Many of them will be happy to show you around.
  • Once you have permission from the university of college, you can add your Clearing choice in Track. Only add a Clearing choice once you have permission from the university or college.
  • Click ‘Add Clearing choice’ and fill in the course details by the date that the institution gave you on the phone.
  • This counts as you accepting the offer, so if they confirm, it’ll show as an acceptance on your ‘Choices’ page in Track.
  • You can only add one choice at a time, but if the university/college doesn’t confirm your place, you’ll be able to add another.
  • Make sure you’ve collected all the necessary information (e.g. A-level grades, Clearing number, etc.) that you might require for either your application or communications with the university.
  • Prepare yourself for a mini-interview over the phone. It isn’t a dead cert that you’ll be interviewed, but it’s better to be prepared in case you are.


Woman speaking to admissions officer


What happens if you don’t get through Clearing?

Firstly, don’t panic. You’ll have the option to add a Clearing choice if the university doesn’t confirm. If that still doesn’t work out, it’s not the end of the world. You can resit your exams and aim for a different mark, consider a different degree course or take a gap year and apply again next year.

Visit WWW.UCAS.COM for more information and advice on Clearing.

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