A-Level results day is just around the corner when millions of teenagers will discover their fate for the next few years.
For some school leavers it’ll cement their place at their chosen university – as thousands of conditional offers fall into place.
But for others, it may not be the news they were hoping for.
If that’s you, don’t worry as all is not lost. The Ucas Clearing system is designed to give fresh opportunities to those who need it – and it’s now open.
Last year, thousands of places were up for grabs, such as English and law, with over 64,300 applicants obtaining places.
The process couldn’t be any simpler – here’s how to use the Clearing system.
What is Clearing and when does it open?
Clearing is the system universities and colleges use to fill up any empty spaces they have for the coming year.
It’s available from July-September each year. This year it opens on 5 July while submissions close at 6pm on 20 September 2018.
If you already have your exam results, but have no offers, you can use Clearing from July.
If you had conditional offers but your exam results didn’t go to plan, you can use Clearing from results day, when Clearing vacancies will be listed in UCAS’ search tool.
If your exam results are reasonable and you’re flexible on subject/location, there’s still a very good chance you’ll find another course.
A full list of course vacancies is published between mid-August and late-September on the UCAS website. Here’s how to search for a place or university.
Is Clearing right for me?
According to a study by the University of Swansea, 55% of people are not aware of the Clearing process and how it works.
A further, 17% of people believe that Clearing only applies to those that don’t get the grades they’re after.
However, this isn’t the case.
Courses in Clearing aren’t just the ones nobody wants – there are many reasons why spaces are still available.
It’s a second chance for those who have missed their conditions, or had a last minute change of heart about the university or course they want to study.
When time does Clearing 2018 open?
The Clearing system opened on July 5 and will remain open throughout autumn.
If you need to use it, the sooner you get on there, the faster you can plan your future, as universities will publish vacancies before results are released. It’s a fast operation – so you’ll have to be as quick as possible. On results day, Clearing will open at 8am.
How does Clearing work?
The idea is you identify courses (with vacancies) that interest you and contact the course providers directly to see if they will offer you a place. You’ll know you’re in Clearing if your Track status says ‘You are in Clearing’ or ‘Clearing has started’.
If your Track doesn’t say either of these yet, it might just be waiting for your results to update – get in touch yourself with the universities or colleges if it’s taking a while – they might still be considering you, even if your results are a bit lower than required.
If you originally only applied for one course (for the reduced fee of £12) you’ll have to pay an additional £11 to enable you to apply for multiple courses.
Step-by-step guide to using the Clearing website
Firstly, register for Clearing online to find out if you’re eligible for it. If you are, in the ‘Next Steps’ section you’ll be given an option to ‘Add a Clearing choice’.
If you are, you can start searching for positions using the search tool.
Once you’ve found a place, call the university to a) make sure the position is still available and b) make sure you meet the entry requirements.
If they offer you a place, add the Clearing choice in Track on your online page. Remember, once a choice has been selected, you cannot add another, unless you’ve been unsuccessful with the first one.
If you want to apply elsewhere once you’ve added a choice, then you need to ask that uni to cancel your place so you’re able to apply again through Clearing.
Will universities accept lower grades through Clearing?
Officially Clearing starts on A Level results day, and you will only be able to accept one firm offer on Track from 3pm on August 16. Ucas will start to update your status from 8am.
But remember, if you know you will be in Clearing, you can start looking for information before results day to try to decide where you want to go and research what will be right for you.
Universities may publish information about vacancies on their website as soon as it’s available.
If you’re unsure about how to choose between universities, these stories from other students may be able to help you.
Here’s a timeline of when Clearing opens and closes for the coming academic year.
Will universities accept lower grades through Clearing?
They might, they might not. It really does depend on a host of things and it comes down to supply and demand.
It might be that they will accept lower grades if you can convince them you are really keen on their course or if you have relevant experience or interests that proves your committment.
How do I make Clearing work for me?
UCAS has the official vacancy list online but here are a few top tips to help you prepare:
- Consider different subjects – you don’t have to stick with your original idea.
- The online list is updated continually – you might not find the exact universities/colleges/courses you’re looking for – some might be full, but some might get vacancies later on, so keep checking back.
- Remember to be prepared! Universities will list available courses before Results Day, so there’s no harm in doing some research beforehand.
- Ensure you have all your notes in front of you when you’re on the phone
- Have scanned copies of qualification certificates in case universities ask for them to be sent over.
- Keep a notepad with you during the conversations to jot down important notes and the name and telephone number of who you are speaking to.
Missing your grades is not the end of the world and Clearing can be an extremely stressful time, so most importantly try and stay calm and don’t put pressure on yourself.
You will sound more confident and will be able to sell yourself better if you are in a relaxed frame of mind.
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