University clearing guide 2015

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By in Freshers. Updated July 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.clearingguide2014If 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 is Clearing?

clearingnoNo, 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.

UCAS-clearingGetting 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?

confusedThe 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:

  • question_markYou 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

detectivefindsThe 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

Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 10.51.44There are plenty of useful resources out there to help track down places available to you. View all clearing places via the UCAS website or their special Clearing Twitter.

The Telegraph newspaper also publish a full list of places with phone numbers (handy) and this year have a useful App which regularly updates Clearing places.

You can also go to the universities directly via their websites.

How to apply for university through Clearing

scarEven 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.

Be prepared

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.

0950b14eec50cb6979458319d03f6bd9You’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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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

shouting phoneNot 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

signpostIf 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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:

  1. Going straight into employment
  2. Re-taking your A-Levels
  3. Going on a gap year
  4. 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!

Leave a comment

11 Responses to “University clearing guide 2015”

  1. chloe

    15. Jun, 2015

    Hi, I was wondering how to get into a university that I haven’t applied for and if it is even possible, do I go through clearing? do I need to reject an offer before ringing up the university, if I do get an offer?

  2. Mas

    03. Apr, 2015

    I was wondering if you get your insurance choice but choose to go to a different uni, can you still apply for clearing or do u have to reject the insurance choice?

    • Jake Butler

      07. Apr, 2015

      I believe you have to reject your insurance before applying to clearing.

  3. Pablo

    05. Feb, 2015


    I have applied to university this year upon completing my A-levels in 2014. I have received some offers but not my first choice. Can I still try to get in through clearing later this year?

    • Jake Butler

      05. Feb, 2015

      I think you will have to apply again this year to see if they will accept you. I would suggest calling them to see what they say.

  4. Sanjay

    26. Aug, 2014

    My son was offered place after giving his grades over phone and his UCAS id. Later when he acceped (with in the time limits)he found that he is rejected stating that he is not meeting the requirements. Any advise.

    • Jake Butler

      26. Aug, 2014

      Hi Sanjay, did the university give a reason for declining the offer? I would suggest contacting them ASAP letting them know about your situation in order to hopefully sort it all out.

      • Sanjay

        27. Aug, 2014

        Thanks Jake,
        They responded that my son does does meets their requirement after they received the file from UCAS. But did tell them the grades over the phone. Does universities have the access to the student file when UCAS id is told over the phone?

        • Jake Butler

          28. Aug, 2014

          Hi Sanjay, I think that the university should have access to the UCAS information but cannot be sure. If your son meets the requirements then he should have a place? Did the university not comment on this? The next step would obviously be to ring UCAS in order to sort out the situation.

  5. Nassikhanova Gulyaim

    16. Aug, 2014


    Me daughter has unconditional offer from University but she decided to reject and apply to another UNI through Clearing. What does she should do, how she can get release from the University? Thanks in advance.

    • Jake Butler

      17. Aug, 2014

      Hi, you can’t actually reject an unconditional offer, but you can ask them to release your daughter from the offer so that she can then go on to apply through clearing.

      The uni is not obliged to release the offer but they will most likely do so.

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