40% of A-level students don’t understand the Clearing process

If you’re confused by it all then don’t worry, you’re definitely not alone.

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The survey also showed some interesting regional differences

A new survey has found that 40% of UK A-level students don’t fully understand the Clearing process and the vital role it can play in helping students who just miss out on their grades to find a place at university.

Students are also in the dark about ‘Adjustment’, which provides them with the chance to swap their place for another course or university if their results are better than expected. More than three quarters (79%) either hadn’t heard of Adjustment or had heard of it but don’t understand what it is, or how they can benefit from it.

The findings also revealed that, despite the lack of knowledge around the options available, almost half of students questioned (49%) expect their grades to change from when they first applied for university.

Stephen Welsh, undergraduate marketing manager at Northumbria University, Newcastle, said: “The survey findings show that for many students, the Clearing process isn’t, in fact, clear. Students may therefore not be benefiting from the huge opportunities Clearing and Adjustment can offer in terms of the best study option and right career path for them as an individual.

In Scotland, 94% of students don’t fully understand the Adjustment process, higher than the national average of 79%.

“The Clearing process has changed significantly in recent years and the option to ‘trade up’ using Adjustment now gives students the ability to reconsider their original choice if they have done better than expected.

“We recognise how important it is as a university to provide students with clear and simple messages around the Clearing and Adjustment process and ensure they are supported through it appropriately.

“Given the enormity of results day, many students, unsurprisingly, feel overwhelmed, but the key is not to panic. There is plenty of support and advice out there. Options like Clearing and Adjustment give students more flexibility and can match them to a university that best meets their needs and prepares them for a career path of their choice.”

The survey highlights the importance of students having a full understanding of the options available. It also looked at the hopes and aspirations of students, their reasons for choosing the university they selected, and the factors that influenced their decision-making process.

Having a happy and healthy life was among the top aspirations for 47% of those questioned, with being financially comfortable (41%) and being successful in their career (39%) also ranking highly.

The survey also revealed that teaching standards was one of the key deciding factors for 49% of students when choosing a course, with future job prospects (45%) and university facilities (42%) close behind.

The survey also showed some interesting regional differences:

In Scotland, 94% of students don’t fully understand the Adjustment process, higher than the national average of 79%.

In Northern Ireland, 39% of students were worried they have chosen the wrong course, higher than the national figure of 23%.

In Wales, 68% fear they will not get into the university of their choice, higher than the national figure of 47%.

In the North West, 75% (three quarters) of students were worried they will not get the grades they need, higher than the national figure of 66%.

In the North East, 44% of students decided on their chosen university because of its academic reputation, higher than the national figure of 35%.

In Yorkshire, students were more worried about not getting into their chosen university –51% compared to the national figure of 47%.

In the East Midlands, 52% of students felt graduate job prospects are important, slightly higher than the national figure of 45%.

In the West Midlands, 56% of students felt that teaching standards are important when choosing a course, slightly higher than the 49% national average.

In East Anglia 44% of students were worried about leaving their friends and family, higher than the national figure of 30%.

In the South East, 51% of students said having a happy and healthy life was their top aim and aspiration, slightly higher than the national figure of 47%.

In London, 36% of students said they understood the process of Adjustment, higher than the national average of just 19%.

In the South West, 38% of students felt that a university’s links with industry are important when choosing a course, higher than the national figure of 29%.

If your own knowledge about Clearing could do with a boost, check out Northumbria University’s information on the process (it’s easier than you think!) and our own handy guide: How to go through UCAS Clearing.

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