What Is Clearing?

what is clearing

No doubt you’ve already heard of Clearing, but do you know what it is and how it works?  Learn how Clearing works, conditions of using Clearing and important key dates.

How Clearing Works

Every year universities all across the UK take in a huge number of students on their degree programs.  Inevitably some courses have fewer applicants than they can actually accommodate, and these become under-subscribed leaving vacancies.

If you have made a UCAS undergraduate application, don’t currently hold any offers from universities you’ve already applied to, and your place isn’t confirmed after exam results are published,  then you may be eligible to apply for a place at university via the Clearing process.

Universities receive all applicant exam results before students get to see them so they know in advance which applicants have met their entry requirements.

Candidates who have achieved the highest grades for entry are given the highest priority for a space.  If there are any spaces on a course which remain unfilled then the university admissions team notify UCAS of any course openings, and UCAS publish this information on their website.

Clearing Important Dates

Clearing vacancies are updated from the start of July until the end of October each year.  UCAS and The Telegraph both publish a list of all vacancies between August and September, and each university will also publish their own vacancies, so if there are particular universities you’ve got your eye on be sure to check their websites regularly for updates.

If you have your exam results, but no current offers, then you can start researching vacancies as soon as they are advertised online.

If you have to wait longer, these are some key dates:

  • 5 July – International Baccalaureate
  • throughout July – vocational courses and BTEC
  • 7 August – Scottish Higher and Advanced Higher Results Release Day
  • 16 August – A-level Results Release Day
  • Those who are applying to Scottish universities will be able to enter their choice through Track from the afternoon of 7 August until 6 PM on August 8. Between August 8 and August 16, the only way you can add a Clearing choice is by phoning UCAS.
  • On 16 August, A-level applicants can start adding Clearing choices at 3 P.M. at the earliest. It would be a good idea to contact universities in advance in order to obtain offers.
  • The last date to make a decision and enter a Clearing choice is 23 October, 2018. Simultaneously, this is the last date on which a university can accept an application.

Conditions of Using Clearing

You should be eligible to use Clearing if you fulfill any of the following conditions:

  • you applied before 30 June and have not received any offers.
  • you applied before 30 June and have declined all offers that you received.
  • you failed to meet the conditions of your primary and secondary choices, and they refused to accept your application.
  • you declined any alternative offers made by your preferred universities.
  • you applied after the deadline.
  • you decided to apply late because you could not make a decision in time.

Bear in mind that if you applied late you still need to register and complete an application.

How To Know You Are In Clearing

Once you have registered and paid the fee, your Track status will state that you are in Clearing.  The sooner you start browsing after that, the better. Universities will ask for your Clearing Number which is visible on the Track page, so be sure to make a note of it.

An important thing to note is if you are in Clearing, UCAS will not contact universities for you. You will have to contact universities directly to enquire about course vacancies.

How To Contact Universities When in Clearing

There is no limit to the number of universities you can contact in Clearing, but time is of the essence as you only have a short window of opportunity, so try not to overburden yourself.

Make a shortlist of the universities you would really like to go to in priority order then start calling them one at a time.  Make sure you have notes of your past academic achievements to hand and mention any particularly exceptional results, as you will still need to sell yourself!

Also keep your personal statement close at hand and make sure you have answers to questions such as why you are interested in going to a particular university.  Try to avoid answers such as ‘I just need to find somewhere fast’ as that won’t help you.  Instead, mention a few things about the university which really appeal to you, and why you would love the opportunity to study there.

Secure Your University Accommodation

Once you have been offered a place it is essential to find some student accommodation.  You may be leaving it last minute, but if you shop around you are likely to find something.

If you’re looking for student accommodation in Plymouth close to the university then be sure to check our current vacancies.

Final Tips

Clearing can be a fairly stressful and time-consuming process, so try your best to remain flexible and at the universities’ disposal.  Also, try to avoid going on holiday until you have been offered a place.

Overall, don’t panic, stay positive and shop around until you find a university offer which suits you best.  If you find the phone lines are busy, send an email and be sure to follow up if you haven’t heard anything within a few days.