Students applying to undergraduate courses in the UK apply through UCAS, the central body who act as the conduit between individuals and their prospective universities. Should an individual receive their exam results and not meet the conditions of either their Firm or their Insurance choice, or should they simply not hold any offers by the application deadline of June 30th, UCAS provide a service called Clearing.
Clearing matches students without places to university courses with spaces. UCAS also offer Adjustment, a service for students who receive their results and exceed the conditions of their Firm choice by a large margin; Adjustment allows these students the opportunity to attend a university with higher entrance requirements.
Clearing is open to students who do not hold offers on July 5th 2016, and you will be notified of your eligibility for Clearing if your status in UCAS Track reads either ‘you are in Clearing’ or ‘Clearing has started’; applicants without either of these messages are encouraged to contact any universities who are yet to provide their final response as swiftly as possible. Applicants who choose not to move ahead with either their Firm or Insurance choice are also able to move through Clearing, although this is a highly unusual step to undertake.
Applicants can register for Clearing from the end of June, if you are holding no offers or have no offers once your results are released. The direct contact service means universities can contact students directly from 5th July, if you have registered at this time. Clearing remains open until early September, but course places, particularly in competitive subjects, or at desirable institutions, will fill quickly.
Students search through all open vacancies through the UCAS Clearing page, and note their Clearing entrance requirements- please note that these are often lower than the course’s usual requirements, so be sure to double check each one. Being certain to research each suitable and interesting course, applicants then call the Clearing hotline of their top choice, where they will speak to a member of the Clearing team, who they must convince of their genuine desire and suitability to study the course they are applying for. Successful applicants then usually are passed to an academic admissions officer, or the Clearing team member may provide a verbal offer immediately. It is vital to impress in this phone call, and any others made in the hopes of securing Clearing offers, so be sure to prepare well, and do your research!
Since 2015, applicants have been able to sign up to an optional service (‘direct contact service’) whereby universities can contact them directly with an offer of a place during Clearing; if eligible, students will receive an email from UCAS inviting them to register. For all other Clearing students, however, you will not be contacted directly by universities, and instead must take the initiative and call each university you are interested in to discuss possible offers.
Inputting Clearing choices works differently than the usual UCAS choices; applicants must only enter a choice in Clearing once they have received confirmation from a university that they are offering a place. To this end, applicants can hold multiple ‘offers’ from universities, but can only enter one final choice into the UCAS Clearing system. Entering this choice is a firm acceptance of your offer, and you will then receive a confirmation letter from UCAS, and join the university with the rest of your cohort in September/October.
Applicants who applied to multiple courses in their first round of applications, and therefore paid the full £26, do not need to pay an additional fee for Clearing. Applicants who only applied to one course and paid the accordingly lower fee of £12 will need to pay £11 to enable them to apply to multiple courses.Clearing candidates do not hold Insurance choices, as they have received their results at the time of receiving Clearing offers. Inputting a choice into Clearing constitutes a Firm acceptance of the offer from a university, and so Insurance choices are not necessary.
Candidates may accept a verbal offer over the phone, or via email, but the final acceptance of an offer must come through the Clearing system.Following accepting an offer through Clearing, candidates will be contacted by UCAS confirming their place, and then by their new university, who will lay out their institution’s enrolment process.
Adjustment – UCAS also provide a service for students who achieve grades significantly above their predictions and would therefore be eligible for entry to universities with higher entrance requirements. Adjustment opens on A Level Results Day and is open until 31st August. Your Unconditional Firm choice stays until you confirm you’d like to go ahead with another course, and so Adjustment is a risk-free way to consider other university courses with your actual results. However, most highly competitive courses will be full by this time, so this service is mainly aimed at students predicted 32 who achieved 36, rather than those predicted 37 who achieved 40, to use an IB example. If you are unsure on result day whether you ought to consider Adjustment, speak with your school’s university adviser regarding their experiences of Adjustment- if they have previously helped students with a similar difference between predicted and attained grades, consider the types of university now open to you, and think whether you would like to spend three years at any of them, before beginning discussions with a new university.
For students entering Clearing or Adjustment, decisions have to be made quickly, but be very careful to truly consider your decisions, as you are deciding many day-to-day components of the next three years of your life. It can be worrying to find yourself suddenly without a university place, or able to apply to a course you thought was out of your reach, but consider the university’s surroundings as well as the course itself, to be sure you will get the most out of your time there- after all, university should be some of the best days of your life!