So, things didn’t go quite to plan on A-level results day. You’ve considered other options like apprenticeships and school leaver programmes but you’ve concluded that you still really do want to head off to university. Well, UCAS clearing is your best bet.
The basic idea is that students identify courses with vacancies that interest them, and contact the course providers directly to see if they will offer a place.
Here’s a step-by-step guide:
1. Get into Clearing on UCAS
Make sure your UCAS Track status says: “You are in Clearing” or “Clearing has started”—if it doesn't say either of these yet, it might just be waiting for the exam results to update. Get in touch with your chosen universities/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 (at a fee of £18) you will have to pay an additional £6 to apply for multiple courses.
2. Ask for advice
Talk to an adviser at your school, college or careers office to discuss alternative courses/subjects.
3. See what courses are available
UCAS will have the official vacancy list online.
You should consider different subjects; you don't have to stick with the idea on your original UCAS form.
The online list is updated continually—you might not find the exact universities or courses you’re looking for—some might be full, but some might get vacancies later on, so you should keep checking back.
4. Talk to universities
After identifying courses you’re interested in, ring up and give those universities your Clearing number (located on the Welcome and Choices pages in Track), and Personal ID number. This will let the universities view your applications online.
You should get informal offers over the phone—maybe from a variety of universities and colleges – then decide which one you want to accept.
If time allows, the best way to see what a university is really like, is to go and visit it. You should take this opportunity if you can; most universities are happy to meet people and show them around.
5. How to add a Clearing choice in track
It’s important that you only add a Clearing choice once you've had confirmation of a place from the relevant university.
- Click “Add Clearing choice” and fill in the course details by the date the university/college gave you on the phone.
- This counts as definitely accepting the offer, so if the university confirms it'll show as an acceptance on the Choices page of Track and UCAS will send you a confirmation letter.
- It’s only possible to add one Clearing choice at a time, but if the university/college doesn't confirm the place, you can add another.
Image courtesy of Glen Noble