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What You Need to Know About Clearing

Written by: Derek Pieterson.

What the Heck is Clearing?

Clearing is a UCAS service that helps people without a university or college place to find suitable vacancies on higher education courses. It helps to find places for more than 35,000 people during Clearing every year.

If your results are lower than expected, you might well find a suitable course through Clearing – perhaps even more suitable than the one you were aiming for. But make sure it is suitable: don’t take anything just for the sake of it.
Check out the course: go to your careers room and read up on universities. Also, check out the place. A visit to the town or city is advisable: you’ll be there for three years.

Who is eligible for Clearing?

If you don’t get the grades you need, UCAS will automatically send you a Clearing Entry Form (CEF) and an instruction leaflet. You don’t have to stick to your original subjects or your original university choices, you can apply for any course with places available.

Who’s eligible:

  • Anyone who applied this year and received no offers
  • Anyone who applied after 30th June
  • Anyone whose offers have not been confirmed because they missed the exam grades needed
  • Anyone who turned down all their offers and who has not withdrawn from UCAS

How do I know what vacancies there are?

As soon as results are out, look out for details of courses and entry requirements:

Online – UCAS has a special Clearing website, also individual universities and colleges may put details on their own sites or have a site dedicated to vacant places.
National Daily Newspapers – The Independent, The Independent on Sunday, The Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday
TV/Radio – listen out for useful radio and TV programmes. Clearing attracts lots of media attention.

I’ve Found a Course that Interests Me – What Next?

Give the university or college a call. Make sure you do that yourself as the admissions tutors will want to speak to you personally, not your mum or your teacher.
The university will be geared up to give you the information you need – any admissions tutor interested in you will usually give you an informal offer on the phone and ask you to send in your CEF.
If the place is then confirmed the university will tell you and UCAS, if not it will return your CEF to you so you can approach another university or college.

Last Word

If you are at all worried that your exams didn’t go well, make sure you are at home when exam results come out. Admissions tutors will want to talk to you in person and you may have to make some decisions quickly.
If you get back from a gap year and have changed your mind about your deferred course or institution, you can use the Clearing process. But you must withdraw from your original choice before you can go through Clearing.
If you don’t find a place you want through Clearing, there are other alternatives. You can always retake your A levels, apply again through UCAS or have a gap year. Many universities and colleges are realising the value of a year out and you may find that after some time away you have a clearer view of the way you want your future to go.
Good luck!

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