Clearing used to be for students who had done badly and were desperately searching for a university, any university, who would take them. All the action happened on A level results day leading to a frantic time for students and university staff alike.
It's very different these days. Why? Well, because UCAS opens Clearing early in July. That way anyone who was unlucky enough not to receive any offers from their five choices can have another bite at the cherry. It recognises that a growing number of 18 year olds are taking BTEC qualifications and these results become available from early July. It also reflects the fact that Clearing is becoming a second application cycle. The debate over fees and whether a university education represents good value for money is leading some 17 and 18 year olds to question whether a degree is the right choice for them. A growing number are deciding late that they want to apply to university and are applying for the first time through Clearing.
Now, don't get me wrong, the day A level results come out (this year it is the 18th August) is still a very busy day. If students find that they have been placed into Clearing, because their firm and insurance universities have not accepted their grades, they will still need to find a place through Clearing if they want to go to university this year.
So if you find yourself going through Clearing on A level results day, here are a few tips:-
- Don't panic! – There are still thousands of places left at universities that will be happy to accept your grades
- Get organised – Have the details of all your qualifications (A2, AS, GCSEs, etc.) to hand, get a pen and paper ready and make sure your mobile is charged up, or better yet, use a landline – you don't want to get cut off during an important call!
- Research – Details of Clearing vacancies can be found on UCAS and on university websites. A good starting point could be the three universities you applied to and rejected during the main application cycle as you already know quite a bit about them
- Shop around – You don't have to accept the first Clearing offer you receive. Get offers from a couple of universities and then take your time and research the university and course. Go to a Clearing Open Day to really find out what it's like. Find out about other incentives, for example whether the university will guarantee your accommodation like the University of Hertfordshire does.
Lastly, remember that universities are there to help you with the decision making process, feel free to ask questions and get advice. We have a handy step-by-step guide to Clearing on our website and you are welcome to call us in the Student Centre (+44 (0)300 303 6300) to discuss your options. We look forward to hearing from you!
Head of Student Centre