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How to navigate UCAS Clearing for universities in the UK

Results day is one of the most nerve-wrecking days you’ll experience, with everyone in your academic year preparing to open an envelope that will dictate their future. Because of this it’s normal to feel a little disappointed if you don’t manage to get in to your university of choice. However, not getting the grades you hoped for doesn’t close all your doors to university . . .Clearing is how many universities in the UK fill up places on their courses, but it’s also a great way for students to get on to a degree course. With our guide you’ll know exactly how to navigate UCAS clearing for universities in the UK.

What is Clearing?

UCAS Clearing is the process by which students who didn’t meet the conditions set by their first choice university (i.e didn’t get the necessary grades), didn’t receive or accept any offers, or made the decision to apply after the deadline for applications passed, can still have the chance to go to university. It also applies for students who achieved higher grades than they were predicted and wish to throw their hat into the ring of more competitive universities. The courses available in Clearing aren’t the ones that no one wants; there are a whole host of reasons why universities have vacant positions on their courses. Over 60,000 students were accepted to university through clearing in 2018, meaning it’s certainly a popular choice! See some great success stories right here.

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Who is eligible to use UCAS clearing for universities in the UK?

Clearing is open to students who have:

  • completed a UCAS application
  • don’t have any offers
  • don’t have any confirmed offers
  • have turned down all received offers

When is Clearing 2019?

Clearing begins in July of every year, in order to be open for students who have received their results in BTECs, the International Baccalaureate and Scottish Highers. However, many of these students may notice that there aren’t many options available for them at this time. That’s because the time Clearing really begins to get busy is on A Level results day, which occurs on the 15th of August this year.

If you are one of the students that gained qualifications in courses other than A Levels you may wish to wait until the 15th of August, when more places will become available via Clearing. Once this day arrives it’s important to act fast if you wish to gain a place at a highly ranked university, as available places at these will be snapped up quickly. There will obviously still be a wealth of choice if you do wait a little, but you will find that there are less options available to you. Make sure you make your decision by the 22nd October as this is the deadline for adding your choices.

Preparation is key

Prepare for the worst and you’ll be pleasantly surprised if everything turns out the way you hoped. This way, if you don’t get the results you want you won’t be panicking, and if you do get your required grades then you can rest easy (and possibly use your knowledge to help out any friends that didn’t get the grades they wanted!).

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  • Make a list of universities that do courses you would be interested in, and which ask for grades lower than what both your Firm and Insurance universities do. Add relevant contact numbers for these and what their conditions are, and take it with you to results day. That way you’ll miss no time getting in touch with them to see if they’ll take you.
  • Have all your essential documentation and numbers with you so you can give these over the phone if needed.
  • Write down some answers to common clearing questions so you don’t get flustered when you’re on the phone. Take these with you when you collect your results.
  • Print off your personal statement and read through it to refresh your memory. Universities will have access to this and may wish to ask you some questions relating to its contents.
  • Be there! Make sure you’re not on holiday over Result’s Day if you’re not dead certain you will get into your university of choice.

How to navigate UCAS clearing

We’re not going to lie to you; Clearing can be stressful but it’s definitely worth it. You’ll have to make quite a few phone calls, play a waiting game and possible reorganise your accommodation and student finance, but it will be worth it once it’s all done. Follow these steps and you’ll know exactly what to do:

  • You will know whether or not you’re in Clearing if your ‘Track’ status says ‘You are in Clearing’ or ‘Clearing has started’.
  • If Track doesn’t say those things, and you didn’t meet the requirements the university gave you, then it may just be updating or they may still be considering your application. Call the university that has previously made you an offer. It may be the case that you’ve missed out on reaching the conditions by a small margin and they may still wish to take you despite this.
  • Not so lucky? Well, there’s better fish in the sea! Use the UCAS Search tool to see what vacancies are out there. If you have a university in mind you can check on their websites too.
  • Ask for some advice from your teachers or the careers adviser at your school. This is especially useful if you are uncertain about what you would like to study or where.
  • Make your choices and call the universities you’ve chosen to see if they’ll accept you. You HAVE to get a verbal offer over the phone before you can add your clearing choices through Track. Keep on trying with different universities until you get a verbal offer.
  • Once you have a verbal offer select ‘Add Clearing choice’ in Track and fill in the course details. This means you have accepted the offer and once the university has confirmed this it will show as an acceptance on your ‘Choices’ page.
  • Be aware that you can only add one choice at a time.

Clearing Self-Release

Previously the only way you could self-release from a place at a university was to call the university and wait for them to release you. This was time-confusing and stressful and so, as of July 2019, UCAS has made it possible for students to self-release so that they can enter Clearing and try to gain a place at a different university or on a different course. To self-release UCAS users must sign into their Track account and click ‘Decline my place’ on their profile page. They will then be taken to a page which explains the outcome of this and prompted to answer a series of questions in order to confirm their decision. After this they will receive an email to confirm that they are now in Clearing.

What else should I know?

Though most students will be up and out the door early in order to pick up their results that doesn’t mean Clearing is available bright and early, too. For A Level students you won’t get access to this until 3pm, which means you’ve got enough time to gather your thoughts and to call universities to secure an offer.

Another thing to bear in mind is that the Clearing process may well cost you money if you haven’t paid the full £24 UCAS application fee. If you only made one choice originally and so only paid £11 you’ll have to pay another £11. Feeling a little overwhelmed? Don’t worry, the fact that 60,000 people gained their university positions through Clearing last year shows that you’re not alone! As well as this, there are videos on the UCAS site which will show you how to go through Clearing, so there really is no need to feel worried. You may even gain a position at a university you’re more excited to attend than where you have been accepted previously.

We hope this helps and remember; all this hard work will be worth it in the end! Still not sure what uni is the right choice for you? Why not choose Bangor Uni?


Leigh Horan

Leigh is the Marketing Manager at Varcity Living. She enjoys going for walks in the Welsh countryside, discovering new places to eat and talking about the most recent film she's watched.