Clearing is the system operated each year by UCAS to assist those students who don't quite get their predicted grades. Clearing 2021 will be an important option for students who don’t quite have the results they need to gain them access to their chosen university and course. Clearing is also useful if you want to change your mind or direction later in the year and allows a certain amount of flexibility with your application.
Clearing matches university places available from mid-August with students whose A level results didn’t manage to get them a place at their original choice of institution.
It’s a good idea to learn about clearing well before results day, just in case. If you don’t end up getting the results you want, you are well prepared. If your results are fine, it’s information that will never be wasted as you will be able to help out any mates who are panicking about their uni places.
Every year there are thousands of students who are in this position but be reassured that large numbers of places are still available through clearing. Just because you need to go through this process does not mean that you won’t end up at university a few weeks later.
Step 1: Check your offer from your original choice
OK, your results are not as good as you hoped and they are lower than your uni offer. The first step is to check your UCAS Track information and your emails. Many universities will not reject you for definite – and they may still offer you a place. Confirm that first before you start going into clearing.
Step 2: Find out if you are eligible for clearing
If you haven’t got confirmation from your chosen uni, you need to find out if you can apply elsewhere through clearing. The easiest way to do this is again to log into UCAS Track. If a clearing number appears against your profile in UCAS Track, then you are eligible to apply to another university through the clearing route.
Step 3: Note your clearing number
It is worth making a note of that number for future reference as you will need it when you come to accept offers during the clearing period itself.
You need to now spend some time looking at the available course and university options and do some research into the programme details, the institution itself and the potential outcomes from taking the degree. This is not the time to panic but you need to get on with this research so that you can make a decision. You may have spent a long time making your mind up in conjunction with parents, careers advisers and teachers to reach a decision on your first choice of course, but during clearing, the longer you take to make a decision, the less choice you will have unfortunately.
When you have found a new first choice course you need to make contact with that university directly as quickly as possible. Most universities will have a special telephone number set up for dealing with calls during clearing, so you will need to find this by searching their web pages.
Make the call outlining your reasons for being interested in the programme of choice, giving some information about yourself, your background and possible career aspirations and sound positive! The person at the other end of the phone often has the power to make you an offer of a place at university on the spot!