School leavers’ options: how to go through Clearing

An easy guide to help you help students wanting to access university places through the Clearing process. 


The basic idea of the Clearing process 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 to Clearing:

1. Get into Clearing on UCAS

Students should make sure their 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 the universities/colleges if it's taking a while – they might still be considering the student, even if their results are a bit lower than required.

2. Ask for advice

Students should talk to an adviser or teacher – like you – at their school college, centre or careers office to discuss alternative courses/subjects.

3. See what courses are available

UCAS will have the official vacancy list online, as well as The Telegraph in print.

Students should consider different subjects; they don't have to stick with the idea on their original UCAS form.

The online list is updated continually – students might not find the exact universities or courses they're looking for – some might be full, but some might get vacancies later on, so they should keep checking back.

4. Talk to universities

After identifying courses they are interested in, students should give those universities their Clearing number (located on the Welcome and Choices pages in Track), and Personal ID number. This will let the universities view students’ applications online.

Students should ask if the universities they applied to originally will reconsider their decision: there may be circumstances where they offer places to applicants previously rejected.

Students should get informal offers over the phone – maybe from a variety of universities and colleges – then decide which ones they want to accept.

If time allows, the best way to see what a university is really like, is to go and visit it. Students should take this opportunity if they can (and you can help them out with this!), most universities will be happy to meet people and show them around.

5. How to add a Clearing choice in Track

It’s important that students only add a Clearing choice once they'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 over 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 the student a confirmation letter

It is only possible to add one Clearing choice at a time, but if the university/college doesn't confirm the place, students can add another.

Recruiting school leavers? We can help