Alternatives To Clearing

Your Options

Finding yourself without a university place on results day can be disappointing and leave you feeling stressed about your future.

This year, A Level results day, and the day Clearing officially opens, is 15 August 2024. From then you’ll have until 17 October 2024 to find a university place.

What is Clearing?

Clearing is the process of matching students without university places to universities with course vacancies.

You will be entered for Clearing if you meet any of the following criteria:

  • Your application for university was made after 30th June 2024
  • You didn’t receive any offers from the universities you applied to
  • You didn’t meet the requirements of the offer set by your chosen university
  • You haven’t yet applied for university

Finding out you haven’t got into university isn’t always disappointing though and it can help you
reassess your future. Many students think that going to university is the obvious choice after completing their A Levels, and whilst we’re all about helping you get into university, we know that it isn’t for everyone.

Often Clearing is the first thing people think of when they find out they haven’t got into university. However, it isn’t your only option…

There are many alternatives to going through Clearing and you may decide that a degree isn’t the right option for you.

Here are some alternatives to Clearing:

Gap year

Whether you decide to go to university or not taking a gap year gives you the chance to reassess your options. Use your gap year wisely to gain work or volunteering experience in the sector(s) that you’re interested in.

You could also use your gap year to re-sit any exams that you didn’t do as well as you’d hoped in.

» View our Top 7 Gap Year Destinations

Getting a job

If you want to earn some money then getting a job could get your foot on the career ladder. Look for roles in an industry that you’re interested in, for example retail or hospitality, and work your way up the ranks.

Take a look at these 10 well-paying jobs that don’t require a degree for some inspiration.


If you’re interested in a career that involves technical skills or experience, for example mechanical engineering, you might be better considering a vocational course rather than a degree.

Apprenticeships give you the chance to “earn while you learn” and combine getting qualifications with gaining valuable work experience.

Here’s the government apprenticeship website with some great information about getting an apprenticeship and where it could lead you.


If you don’t think you’re ready for an apprenticeship or to world of work then a traineeship might be the right option for you. You’ll take compulsory qualifications, learn important workplace skills, and be able to move on to a full apprenticeship when you’re done.

The National Careers Service has some loads of information about traineeships, what you can expect, the type of traineeships available, and what you could do after you’ve completed your traineeship.