What is Clearing?
TThe UCAS Clearing system is a system that indicates which universities have not yet filled their places for degree courses starting in September.
When do students need to go through Clearing?
The Clearing system applies to students if they have not met the grade requirements for their insurance (second-choice) university but they would still like to begin a university degree course in the UK this autumn.
When students log in to the “Track” webpage in UCAS, the online system will tell them whether or not they are eligible to use Clearing. If their 2 university choices have not been able to confirm their final A-level grades (e.g. if they have not been cashed-in), they will not release them on UCAS and they will not be eligible for Clearing. Therefore, it is imperative that before students do anything else, they log in to their “Track” webpage to confirm that they are, indeed, eligible. If students know already that they have missed their offers (and is are therefore eligible for Clearing), but this does not appear in “Track”, they will need to contact the universities that they applied to and ask the institutions to release them on UCAS so that they are able to proceed with Clearing. They can also ask a university to release them for Clearing even if they have met the conditions of their offer from that university. If they have exceeded these conditions, they will also be able to consider the alternative procedure of Adjustment (see below), which would allow them to keep their existing offer while looking for alternative courses.
What if a student has only JUST missed an offer from their insurance university by 1 or 2 UMS points?
If a student has only narrowly missed their offer for their 2nd choice university (so, for example, the student was offered a place with ABB but they missed their grade offer by a couple of points and received BBB), it is usually worthwhile for the student to phone their insurance university in the first instance to explain that they have only just missed their offer with them and to ask them whether or not they would still be able to consider giving the student a place. This is not always successful (and indeed, if a particular university or course is very popular, they may be firm in their conditional grade requirements and unable to consider a student further), but it is worth confirming this with them before a student begins Clearing since, in some cases, a university may still be able to offer a student a place if they are only a few points off their initial grade offer.
Please note that if a student has fallen short of their required UMS marks in a subject (e.g. more than just 2 or 3 marks), a university is unlikely to continue to honour their offer.
How does Clearing work?
On the day of the A-level exam results, the Independent newspaper (and other major broadsheets) and the UCAS website publish a list of ALL of the universities in the UK that still have places available and the degree courses that have not yet been filled. These listings can be searched both by university name and by the subject that the student is looking to study (so, for example, it is possible to do a search in Clearing for all of the universities that still have places available to read History).
When students search for Clearing vacancies, they will need to indicate whether or not they are a Home/EU applicant or an International applicant as the places available can vary depending on the applicant’s student status.
It is important to note that not all universities will have Clearing places; the lists are updated continuously on UCAS online so students will always have access to the most up-to-date information about possible course vacancies.
If a student is eligible for Clearing, a button that says “Add Clearing Choice” and a Clearing Number will appear on their Track webpage.
Before a student can start contacting universities through Clearing, they will need to make sure that they have their personal ID number, their Clearing number, and their exam results. Once a student has this information, they will need to begin contacting universities individually (usually by telephone and preferably as soon as possible!) to speak to them about whether or not they would be interested in offering the student a place through Clearing. When speaking to the admissions tutors, students should ensure that they ask the admissions tutors key questions, such as:
1) Would they be able to offer student accommodation (if the student will be living away from home)?, and
2) Do they need to see the paper copies of students’ exam certificates?
They will also want to know why the student is particularly interested in applying for the course at their university, so it is important that the student makes sure that they are prepared to explain why they have chosen to apply to their programme!
Where can phone numbers be found to contact universities?
All phone contact details for Clearing universities will be listed online at UCAS.com
Can several different universities be contacted to discuss course vacancies?
Students are welcome to contact several universities about their course vacancies, and indeed, they may be informally offered several Clearing places at different universities. However, they are only allowed to enter one course choice online on “Track”, so they will need to decide which offer they would like to accept if they are offered more than one place.
Can universities still be contacted when their offers had been declined by the student previously?
If a student has declined an offer from a university or college earlier in the year, they can contact them again to see if they will accept the student in Clearing (if they still have places), either for the same course that the student applied to previously or for any other course that interests the student.
What should a student do once a university has said that they are prepared to consider them or offer them a place?
If a university says that they are interested in provisionally offering the student a place in Clearing, they will give the student a date by which they must enter their course details in “Track”. The student will then need to log in to “Track” and click on the button that says “Add Clearing Choice”, where it will then ask the student to fill in the details of their university and the course that they are applying for. Students are only allowed to enter one Clearing choice in “Track” so they need to be certain that this is the offer for them.
Please note that a student should ONLY enter a Clearing choice online in “Track” if the university has provisionally offered them a place on the course and they want to accept their offer.
What happens next?
Once a student has registered their Clearing choice on “Track”, UCAS will forward the details of their application to their chosen university. If the university accepts the student, the acceptance will be displayed in the “Choices” section of “Track” and UCAS will send a letter in the post to confirm that the student has been given a place on their chosen course. It is very important that this letter is kept since this is the official confirmation letter proving the student’s acceptance! If a student is not accepted by their chosen university, the “Add Clearing Choice” button in “Track” will be re-activated so that the student can apply to another choice in Clearing.
The Clearing system and the list of Clearing universities will continue to be available to applicants right through until the end of September.
What is Adjustment?
Adjustment is a useful procedure that can help good students to find a suitable university while keeping their original place open for a short time. Within the period of the 18th to the 31st of August students who have met and exceeded the conditions of their conditional firm offer will have five calendar days (i.e. five twenty-four hour periods including Saturdays and Sundays) in which they will be able to hold their existing place while looking for a more suitable university course. In other words, Adjustment is available during a five-day period starting from when a student’s conditional firm (CF) offer changes to unconditional firm (UF), or on A-Level publication day, whichever is later.
Students must register for the process of Adjustment and then approach universities individually in order to secure a place on another course. There is no general list of available places, as there is for Clearing. The process is invaluable for a student who has done better than expected in their A Levels and is not really satisfied with the institution that originally accepted them, although certain prestigious universities such as Oxford and Cambridge do not have vacancies available through either Adjustment or Clearing. It is advisable for students to research courses early, in preparation for the hectic Adjustment period from the 18th of August.
Even if a student finds a course through Adjustment, many accommodation options will no longer be available, and it is possible that there will be delays in rearranging student finance. However, it is undeniable that Adjustment can offer life-changing opportunities.