University clearing guide 2015
Didn’t get accepted into your first or second choice university? Apply to university through clearing and everything could turn out much better than you expected.If your results weren’t what you needed to get into your chosen university then the first thing to say is don’t panic. You still have a good chance of snagging a great university place through clearing, honest.
And you’re not alone. Last year 55,000 students found a place through clearing and the lines will undoubtably be buzzing again this time around.
Still, the whole process can be a bit overwhelming and confusing. Stick with us through this guide as we make clearing clearer (sorry, had to be done).
What’s on this page?
What is Clearing?
No, we’re not talking about an open space in a forest… In a nutshell, Clearing is a service managed by UCAS that enables students who didn’t get the grades that they needed to apply for university courses that have extra spaces.
The clearing service is available between July and September so you can make use of it as soon as you get your results, however, some universities may wait until A Level results day to start proceedings.
If you are flexible and have reasonable exam results, there is still a good chance you will find another suitable course at a good uni.
Getting your results and realising they aren’t what you needed for your first choice can be stressful and disappointing, but you’re not alone! Don’t rush to the pub to drown your sorrows, get applying for those spare places!
The clearing service successfully places over 50,000 applicants every year and you won’t just be squeezed into any old course with a spare place.
You may even be able to get on the course you wanted in the first place!
Who can apply through Clearing?
The short story is that you can use clearing if your track shows the message “You are in Clearing” or “Clearing has started”. If you’ve missed your grades and this message isn’t showing then you should ring your first or second choice university straight up.
Many universities will still give you a place even if you miss your grades so always ring up your choices to check first before you dive headfirst into clearing.
The long story is that you are eligible for Clearing if you have applied in the current application year (through UCAS) and are in one of the following categories:
- You have declined all your offers or did not responded by the due date.
- Your offers have not been confirmed because you have not met the conditions (ie. you have not achieved the required grades).
- You have declined a changed course, a changed date of entry and/or a changed point of entry offer.
- You applied for one course which has been declined/unsuccessful and you have paid the full application fee (£22 for 2014).
- UCAS received your application after 30th June. If you sent your application after this date, it will not have been sent to any universities or colleges.
Finding and choosing university Clearing courses
The whole Clearing process can feel very rushed, but you should spend some time researching and thinking about which universities or courses to choose. Consider courses in related fields to your original option, and those that appeal to your interests as well as the subjects you’ve studied.
Going to your college careers advisor before or after you get your results is a good idea. This gives you someone to talk to and discuss your options with, and help you choose what alternate clearing courses may be suitable for you.
When you have a course in mind, vital things to consider are the terms and conditions of the course itself. This includes things like required placements, the type of degree the course results in, and any supplies you will need.
Important features of the uni include accommodation, facilities, and social aspects. Check out your full course description and university website to find out all about these.
When it comes to considering where to live, we have comprehensive guides on a number of big university cities. Have a look here.
Where to find clearing places
You can also go to the universities directly via their websites.
How to apply for university through Clearing
Even though not getting the results you needed can be disappointing, as long as you are prepared to manage the university clearing process, it will all be a distant memory once you are at uni!
Those students that apply through clearing are treated no differently to others on the course.
If you think there’s a chance you may go into Clearing then be prepared to give yourself the best chance. Have your UCAS admissions number and your Clearing number to hand, both of which can be found in your online UCAS account.
You’ll also want to save the Clearing phone lines of universities that you’re interested in on your mobile.
Be aware they’ll be incredibly busy on results day, so also follow the universities on Facebook and Twitter as during the clearing period they will most likely be posting details of how and when to apply.
Treat university Clearing like applying for a job. You need to sell yourself to the universities.
Getting into university through Clearing is entirely down to you, so try your hardest to get in contact with universities and allow time to do research.
Step-by-step to applying for Clearing courses
- Check that you are in clearing: On the day of your A-Level results, log into your UCAS account to check if you have been offered a place at your chosen universities. If you haven’t then you’ll see the message “you are in clearing” which confirms that you’ll have to apply to university through the clearing process.
- Choose your ideal unis/courses: Once you’ve identified some subject areas which suit you, get searching for clearing vacancies (see “choosing university clearing courses” above). Be aware that some vacancies may be filled very quickly so if you’ve made a certain decision then try to apply as soon as possible.
- Contact your chosen universities: You then need to contact your chosen university directly. While some universities have help lines open from 8am on results day, they will be busy so don’t stress if you don’t get through straight away. By midday, you may be able to get in touch with universities. You can see more about how to contact universities below.
- Give the universities your information: Universities will require your results and your Clearing number which is in the “choices” section in Track in your UCAS form. With the number the university can view your UCAS application and consider your clearing application.
- Get your offer: Once you have found a place you want, and contacted the university they may give you a provisional offer. You then need to add the universities details into your clearing choices on UCAS. The university may then confirm your offer and you will be alerted on the clearing form and by letter. Then congratulations it’s time to open the Champagne, you’re now officially a uni student!
Tips on calling universities
Not getting the results that you planned for can be hard, there’s no denying that. However, it’s not the end of the world (even if it does feel like it) and it’s important to stay calm.
You need to treat calling universities as if it was an interview. We aren’t going to teach you how to suck eggs but there’s a few important pointers to bear in mind when calling your chosen universities.
- Stay calm and smile: The person on the other end of the phone will be receiving 100s of calls so make sure you stand out
- Be prepared: You will need to be in a calm environment where you feel fully comfortable. It’s also worth researching a little bit about each of your chosen universities as well as the courses that you’ll be applying for
- Sell yourself: Let the university know that you are really keen to study there and explain any reasons as to why your results were not as expected
- “Big up” the uni: Make sure you emphasise why you want to study at that particular university as well as the course you have chosen
- Don’t give up: You might not get your first, second or even third clearing choice but it’s important that you don’t give up. Work your way down your list of choices and try not to be disheartened if you receive any rejections.
Alternatives to Clearing
If you don’t want to apply to university through clearing then there are plenty of other routes that you can take, which could end up being a better route for you anyway.
If you still want to go to uni
There are two options you can take if you are still keen on attending university but don’t want to apply through clearing.
- You can ring the university that declined your offer and ask if there is any way that you could still attend. It is rare that universities will still offer you a place through this method but in the past students have secured places by accepting to do a foundation year first or even taking on joint courses instead of the one that was initially applied for.
- Ask for an A-Level remark. If you feel that you have been unfairly graded then make sure you talk to your school or college about whether they feel a remark would be a good idea. Be aware that once again this won’t guarantee a place.
Alternatives to university
If you have missed out on your top university and back up choice then you might decide that university isn’t for you. Luckily there are plenty more options out there including:
- Going straight into employment
- Re-taking your A-Levels
- Going on a gap year
- Starting a business
Whatever you choose to do just make sure you are confident with your choice.
If you do make it through, congratulations! You can start getting clued up about what’s to come with Save the Student! Start by checking out our guides on freshers week survival, knowing what to take to uni and getting your head around university life.
If you have any questions about the clearing process or simply want to share your success story then please leave a comment below.
Good luck to all of you that are applying for clearing this year!