Guide to Clearing
UCAS Clearing matches universities that need students to students that need a university.
You can use Clearing if you didn’t get the exam results to get into your firm or insurance choice universities, if you didn’t receive any offers when you first applied, or for a different reason (see below). Clearing may be your second chance of getting a place at university.
Clearing opened Thursday 5 July. If you apply to university for 2018 entry after 30 June 2018, you are automatically entered into Clearing.
For most students, Clearing only becomes available once results have been released, and they haven’t met the entry criteria for previously chosen courses. Results days in 2018 are:
- International Baccalaureate: Thursday 5 July
- BTEC and other vocational courses: during July – check with your school/college
- Scottish Highers: Tuesday 7 August
- A Levels: Thursday 16 August.
Clearing is also available for students who have their results already, and are not holding an offer at a UK university.
It is up to you to find a university that is prepared to accept you. The best way to do this 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 that 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 16 August If you’re studying a different qualification to A Levels, Clearing starts in July and as soon as you have your results. 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’ 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 they 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.
- And 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 Results Day and Clearing.
Call UCAS helpline on: 0371 368 0468 (UK callers) or +44 330 333 0230 (if you are calling outside the UK).
The SQA candidate advice line: 0345 279 1000. This will be available to use from Tuesday 7 to Friday 10 August.
Skills Development Scotland has an exam hotline offering advice on careers and university and college vacancies. The number to call is 0808 100 8000
Top tips from James Seymour, Director of Admissions at the University of Buckingham:
"The vast majority of universities had Clearing vacancies in 2017. 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.
"Also, 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!"
The most common time people use Clearing is because they didn’t get the exam 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 – read more.
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 2019. This means you can take stock, save money or secure accommodation – rather than rushing through Clearing.
Overall, we advise that you plan for Results Day and the possibility of going through Clearing in advance. Preparation will put you in a better position.
Using Clearing strategically
There are lots more available spaces through Clearing compared to previous years, and universities are in competition with each other to fill these spaces. This means that you may be in a position to find a place at a university you'd rather go to, and have time to utilise your power and not make hasty decisions.
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 have places in Clearing (such as Oxbridge or Medical courses).
Many universities will run open days to enable applicants through Clearing (and their parents) 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 that has the interests of the applicant at heart will see the value this, and provided that there is not too long of a gap between receiving an offer and making the visit, they will generally hold open the offer of a place.
Next page: Clearing competition