Guide to Clearing

Use Clearing if you:

  • Didn’t get into your firm (CF) or insurance (CI) choice universities.
  • Didn’t receive any offers when you first applied.
  • If you are applying after 30 June.
  • If you wish to self-release into Clearing.

UCAS Clearing may be your second chance of getting a place at university – it matches students that want a university place to universities that want students. 

Click to skip to:
When is Clearing? • Clearing self-release • How to use Clearing
When you might need to use Clearing
Clearing open days

Clearing 2019 Graphic

When is Clearing 2019?

Clearing opens on Friday 5 July. If you apply to university for 2019 entry after 30 June 2019, you are automatically entered into Clearing.

Students who have not met the entry requirements for their chosen courses, those who have not received an offer from a UK university, and those applying late are automatically entered into Clearing. Results days in 2019 are:

  • International Baccalaureate: Friday 5 July.
  • BTEC and other vocational courses: during July – check with your school/college.
  • Scottish Highers: Tuesday 6 August.
  • A Levels: Thursday 15 August.

Clearing Self-Release

Clearing Self-release is a new feature from UCAS for 2019. 

Clearing self-release allows any applicant, who already holds a place at university, to release themselves into Clearing in order to apply to a different institution. Previously, students had to contact their chosen university and ask to be released before they could apply elsewhere.

  • Self-release will be available in UCAS Track from 1 July 2019.

How to use UCAS Clearing Self-Release

Self-releasing into Clearing is a simple process, designed to make sure you clearly understand what it means to release yourself into Clearing:

  1. Sign into your Track account and click the ‘Decline my place’ button on your profile page.
  2. You will be taken to a page explaining what this entails and asked to complete a set of questions and confirm your decision.
  3. You will then receive an email confirming you are in Clearing.
  4. You should immediately phone UCAS if you think you have made a mistake.

Self-release has several advantages compared to the system used in previous years:

  • You are in control – you no longer have to wait for a university to release you into Clearing.
  • Saves time – university Clearing hotlines get very busy around Results Day and holding on the phone, waiting to ask to be released from your offer, can be time consuming. 
  • Reduces stress – the old process of waiting for a university to release you was stressful as different universities had different methods of managing it. Self-release is universal – it's the same straightforward process, regardless of which university you are releasing yourself from. 

A word of caution

You should think extremely carefully before releasing yourself into Clearing – your existing university place is unlikely to remain open if you change your mind. Changing universities at this stage means you will have to reapply for accommodation and update your student finance application. 

Please read on for how to use Clearing, or check out our Clearing and Results Day FAQs.

How to use Clearing

It is up to you to find a university prepared to accept you. The best way is to check UCAS or the university website, ring them and tell them what you want to do. If they have a vacancy, they will usually take your details and either give you a decision straightaway, or soon afterwards.

Important things to remember if you need to use Clearing (or you wish to shop around for another opportunity):

  • Prepare in advance. Even if you’re confident you will get the exam results you need, do some contingency planning before Results Day. Make a list of possible courses and universities you’re interested in and put in priority order. This will help when looking at the Clearing listings after they are published.
  • Don’t wait until 15 August. If you’re studying a different qualification to A Levels, Clearing starts in July. Many international, mature and EU students may have their results as soon as Clearing opens, so if you can, act quickly.
  • Be there. Don’t go on holiday at this critical time!
  • Be positive. It may have got some bad press in the past, but Clearing is now a buyer’s market. Most universities in the top 20 of our league table will have some vacancies in Clearing.
  • Regularly check UCAS Track. If you become eligible to use Clearing, an ‘Add Clearing choice’ option will appear on your Track Choices screen. You can also check directly with your firm and insurance choices.
  • Check the official Clearing listings. You’ll find these on UCAS or university websites.
  • Consider alternative courses. Maximise your choice by considering a joint course with another subject, instead of a single subject course.
  • Start ringing possible universities straight away. Vacancies at higher ranked universities can be filled quickly, so be the early bird that catches the worm! Remember to have your Clearing number to hand.
  • Always telephone the university yourself. Universities are less impressed when someone rings on your behalf, and are unlikely to be able to offer a place unless they are speaking to the candidate directly.
  • Keep going. Clearing can be stressful, but don’t stop trying. If you’re not having much luck on the phone, try sending an email too. Remember, it’s not just you going through this process.
  • Don’t forget – you will only be able to have one Clearing choice at a time!

If you need more help, there are hotlines you can call for advice about Clearing and your exam results. UCAS, the SQA, other exam boards and the universities can also be contacted via Twitter and Facebook.

  • UCAS: 0371 468 0 468 (UK callers) or +44 330 3330 230 (if you are calling from outside the UK).
  • The SQA candidate advice line: 0808 100 8000, open from 8am-8pm on 6 and 7 August, and from 9am-5pm from 9-15 August. You can also email: customer@sqa.org.uk.
  • Skills Development Scotland's exam helpline offers advice on careers and university and college vacancies. It will be open from 8am until 8pm on 8 and 9 August and from 9am until 5pm from 10 until 16 August. The number is 0808 100 8000.

Top tips from James Seymour, Director of Marketing and Student Recruitment at the University of Gloucestershire:

"The vast majority of universities had Clearing vacancies in 2018. You have time to be rational and look at all the options – it's not a just a new university place you are considering; there are knock-on issues, such as accommodation, student finance or securing a part-time job.

"Some universities accept direct applications as well as via UCAS, particularly for two-year degrees, part-time courses or courses that start in July or January – exploit this opportunity!"

Clearing Hotline

When you might need to use Clearing

The most common time people use Clearing is because they didn’t get the results they needed to make it into their firm and insurance choice universities.

But it can also be a useful tool in many other situations. It allows time to make big decisions, and it can even widen the options available to you. Many students use it strategically. Reasons could include:

  • You didn’t find the right course beforehand. There may be something better suited to you in Clearing that wasn’t available before.
  • You changed your mind since making your five UCAS choices. It’s completely fine if your feelings have changed since your initial application. Clearing is essentially your sixth choice!
  • You didn’t get any previous offers. You can use Clearing or UCAS Extra to find a university place and hopefully get an offer. UCAS Extra is open until early July, just before Clearing opens.
  • You decided to apply late. If you were unsure about university during the first round of applications and you didn’t apply, then Clearing gives you another chance.
  • You got better grades than your predictions. If you did better on Results Day than you were expecting, you may be able to get a place on a different course at a university that asks for higher grades. This can be done through Clearing, or through Adjustment.

You might also want to take a gap year or a mini-gap year. Some universities offer January entry points or offer courses starting in September 2020. This means you can take stock, save money or secure accommodation, rather than rushing through Clearing.

Overall, we advise you plan in advance for Results Day, and the possibility of going through Clearing. Preparation will put you in a better position.

Using Clearing strategically

You may be in a position to find a different university you'd rather go to, and have time in order to avoid making a hasty decision.

If you are considering declining an offer, it is worthwhile phoning the university to talk to them about your situation, to see if they can help.

Bear in mind – not all universities advertise places in Clearing (for example, Oxford, Cambridge and for courses with high entry requirement such as Dentistry). Remember that you will only be able to have one Clearing choice at a time.  

Clearing open days

Many universities run open days to allow Clearing applicants (and their parents and carers) to visit, view the facilities (particularly accommodation), and talk to staff and students.

Even if there is not an official opportunity to visit, you can still contact the university and try and see the place before making a firm commitment.

A university has the interests of the applicant at heart and will see the value of this. Providing there is not too long a gap between receiving an offer and making the visit, a university will generally hold open the offer of a place.