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Unclear about Clearing?

Thursday 26 June 2008Becoming a Student

If you haven’t been offered a place at university or college, or you didn’t get the grades you needed for your chosen course, don’t panic. You’ve probably heard of Clearing, a system that matches applicants with suitable vacancies on higher education course. If you’re expecting to receive higher or lower grades than expected it’s best to begin your research as early as possible.

What is Clearing?

Clearing is a service that operates between mid-July and September. You can take part in Clearing if you have already applied through UCAS and haven’t managed to secure a place at university or college for the current year. Over 50,000 people gained a place through clearing in 2011, so if you’re prepared to be flexible and have reasonable exam results, there’s a good chance you’ll find a course.

Click here to see a video by UCAS which explains the process in detail.

Who can use Clearing?

The criteria for using Clearing are outlined by UCAS. You’re eligible for Clearing if you have applied in the current application year, and if: 

  • You have not received any offers;
  • You have declined your offers or not responded by the due date;
  • Your offers have not been confirmed because you have not met the conditions (eg you have not achieved the required grades); 
  • You have declined a changed course, a changed date of entry and/or changed point of entry offer;
  • You applied for one course which has been declined/unsuccessful and you have paid the full application fee - £23 for 2013;
  • UCAS received your application after 30 June. If UCAS received your application after this date, they will not have sent it to any universities and colleges. 

When clearing vacancies are published

Course vacancies in Clearing are published on www.ucas.com from mid-August until late-September.

Further information about how to apply is available nearer the time.

Follow UCAS on Twitter at @ucas_online

Tips for students going through Clearing.

Do your research

If you think you are unlikely to get the grades you were expecting do some research into other courses or institutions that you may like to study at. This means that on the day of results you will be well prepared. For an overview of all institutions you can use sites such as the Guardian’s University guide . For more detailed information about individual courses including for example course satisfaction data you could use sites such as Unistats.

Be quick

Vacancies listed on Clearing tend to fill up quickly, so a fast response will increase your chances of being accepted on the course you want. Make sure you have all the paperwork you’ll need to hand.

Be realistic and flexible

Check the requirements and if you don’t have the grades you need for your chosen subject, consider an alternative course, as well as an alternative institution. If you have a specific career in mind, vocational qualifications such as foundation degrees are becoming increasingly popular. 

While flexibility is important, the course and institution you choose must still be right for you. You can also research institutions on their websites or contact them directly with any questions about requirements for the course. Keep an eye on your account on the UCAS website to make sure you haven't already been offered a place.

Think carefully before accepting 

Think carefully before you accept an offer, as you can only accept one. Make sure it really is the right choice for you. 

Make sure you have financial support

Make sure you have all the financial support you are eligible for. For more information on this, see our student finance section.

For more information on clearing: