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Clearing 2018: Getting into Uni When You Don’t Get the Grades

31 Jul 2018
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If you’re applying late to uni, or you didn’t receive the offers you were hoping for, or you didn’t get the A-Level results you need to meet a conditional offer, clearing is your new best friend.

We’ve answered the most frequently asked questions about clearing here – so you can get a great uni place, even if things didn’t go as planned the first time round.


What Is Clearing?

Universities often have places left on multiple courses once offers have been made, and once results day comes. Some of those courses won’t have filled prior to results day, hence why they’re available sooner. Other places become available on A-Level results day, when conditional offers are rejected and when unconditional offers are not met.

So, clearing is the way that unis fill up those empty places.


Who Can Apply Through Clearing?

You can apply for clearing if you…

• Are applying after the 30th of June

• Didn’t receive any offers – or you didn’t want to accept any offers that were made to you

• Received your A-Level results and didn’t meet the conditions for any of your conditional offers

If you didn’t meet the conditions of a conditional offer, the university may make adjustments. When you log into UCAS Track on results day, if you’ve not met the conditions but your offer hasn’t been withdrawn yet, get on the phone to the university. They may still accept you onto the course, especially if you can show that you really want that place.


When Does Clearing Open?

You can apply through clearing any time after the 5th of July. To apply before results day, you must have received no offers, have received offers but decided not to accept them, or have missed the original application deadline.

Everyone else can apply for clearing after 8am on results day, if they don’t meet the conditions of their conditional offer(s).


How Do You Apply Through Clearing?

If you already applied for university places through UCAS Track, you can log in to see whether you have been accepted at your existing universities. If you didn’t meet the conditions for any of your offers, you’ll see a message telling you that you’re now in clearing. You’ll also be able to see your clearing number, which you should make a note of, as you’ll need it multiple times during the clearing application process.

Now follow these steps:

1. Search for places: Use the search tool to find places on courses at different universities. Make a shortlist of places you’re interested in, and note down the contact details.

2. Make a shortlist: Get all the important information to hand, including your UCAS ID, your clearing number, your GCSE and A-Level results, details of relevant experience or placements, your personal statement, and any questions you have for the university.

3. Contact the university: Call the unis you’re interested in using the contact details in the UCAS search results.

4. Make a good impression: If there are places available, you’ll have to answer a few questions. The admissions staff will want to make sure that you and the university are a good fit for each other.

5. Review verbal offers: After this, you might get a verbal offer and a timeframe in which you must respond. Some unis may require an answer there and then.

6. Update track: If the uni offers you a place and you decide to accept it, you’ll need to add that university to your clearing choices – the university won’t do this for you. You can only enter one clearing choice at a time into Track, so only add to Track when you’re ready to accept.

7. Accept your place: Make sure you’ve told the university that you’ve accepted the place, and that you know how you’ll receive the confirmation. It’s essential that you know when you’ll hear from them, how, and that they’ve got the relevant contact details.

Celebrate! Offer accepted? Sorted! You’re going to university! Time to celebrate.


Which Universities Have Places for Clearing 2018?

It might come as a surprise to you that (at the time of writing), there are 24,866 courses available through clearing on UCAS search. And it’s not just the more unusual courses that you can apply for – like Animal Management, Baking Science, and Astrophysics. Here’s how many courses are available in five of the UK’s most popular degree subjects:

• Business Studies: 2,061 courses

• Engineering: 591 courses

• Computer Science: 595 courses

• Law: 860 courses

• Psychology: 958 courses

And more places will become available on results day, as A-Level students’ results determine their university paths. So don’t worry: if you’re proactive, you can still get a great place at a brilliant university.


What Is Adjustment?

The UCAS Adjustment service works like clearing if you achieve better results than expected. If your A-Level results exceed the requirements of your firm choice, you can use Adjustment to swap your firm choice for a place at another university. You can learn more about this on the UCAS website.


Should I Take a Gap Year?

For some people, taking a gap year improves their university applications, and for others, it prepares them for leaving home with a little bit of University of Life experience. By taking another year before you go to university, you could…

• Resit some of your A-Levels to improve your results

• Gain work experience to weigh up career options, enhance your personal statement, and impress admissions staff

• Enter full-time employment to save some money to support yourself at university

• Travel – the country, the continent, the whole world (it’s your oyster!)

• Learn a new skill by working as an apprentice

But it’s not the right move for everyone. Look at the clearing options before you make any hasty decisions. If now is really the wrong time for you to go to uni, consider taking the year off before you start. However, if you’re just daunted by changing your plans and by going through clearing, you should persevere. It’ll all be worth it when you receive that acceptance letter.


How Do I Find Accommodation If I Get a Place Through Clearing?

Your accommodation options are still the same as if you’d secured one of your first choices, but you may find that some residences – especially university halls – have filled up or have limited spaces available.

Research online and in prospectus materials to get an overview of your options, and then contact the relevant people to talk about availability. If you want to stay in university halls, call the uni accommodation line or their clearing office. The staff there will be able to tell you what options are left.

Private halls often have an online booking system, so you can see immediately which rooms are still available. You can find these by searching for student accommodation in your city of study.

Looking for 2018/19 accommodation in Nottingham, Newcastle, Cardiff, and Bristol? View availability here.

Don’t worry if things haven’t gone as planned – there’s so much help available to you, from the day you apply to university, right up until the day you graduate – and beyond. Your personal tutor, career counsellor, parents, and friends can all give plenty of advice.

For more on starting uni, visit our blog. You can also follow us on Facebook to stay up to date with important information for pre-, during- and post-uni tips.