What is University Clearing and How to Apply

22nd September 2021 Shannan Humphrey Study

Didn’t receive an offer from any of the universities you applied to? With so much competition for places, unfortunately, a lot of students are left without an offer. While this can understandably be disheartening, there is still a chance you could snag a place at a different university. According to UCAS, in 2019 a total of 73,320 applicants managed to secure a place through clearing.

So, what exactly is university clearing and how does it work? Find out everything you need to know below…

What is clearing?

Clearing is a process run by UCAS that aims to help match students to available university courses. On exam results day, universities from across the country post any spaces they have remaining on their courses. Students who didn’t receive an offer from their chosen universities can then apply for any of the places advertised.

The main benefit of clearing UCAS placements is that you’ll still be able to head off to university. It may not be your first choice, but it could potentially work out better than the placement you originally chose. After looking at the different course details, you might also find that you want to do something different. There is often a lot of choices available, giving you access to many different opportunities.

How does clearing work?

So, how does clearing work exactly? The first thing you’ll need to do is register with UCAS clearing. You’ll then receive a welcome email giving you a clearing number, alongside information on how to access the ‘Track’ feature. Once your Track status states ‘You are in clearing’, you’ll be able to apply to the courses available and track your application.

All courses and universities available through clearing can be found using the search tool on the UCAS site. You will need to contact the university offering the course you are interested in so you can get their permission to apply. Once you have it, you can then add a clearing choice through the ‘Your Choices’ section of Track. You can then keep an eye on the status of the application, which the university will either accept or decline

Be aware that there may be an additional cost of £6 to apply to a course through clearing. This applies if you originally received the reduced £20 fee for applying to just one course. If you paid £26 to apply to multiple placements, you may not need to pay the fee.


How to apply through clearing  

If you are interested in applying through clearing, it’s important to first make sure you meet the entry requirements — that is, you applied for university courses but didn’t receive an offer. You can start applying from July 5th right through until October 19th. As soon as you have your A-Level results, follow these simple steps…

1. Search for vacancies

Head over to the UCAS search tool to see what vacancies are available. Look for places in your chosen subject and make a note of the places you are interested in. The placements should have contact details included for the university so don’t forget to jot those down too.

When you’re searching for vacancies, make sure you read through what the course entails. Do your own research into the university to see if it’s a good fit. Choosing the right uni is essential. You should never apply to a vacancy without first visiting the university and carrying out research.

2. Call each university

Begin calling the universities that made it onto your shortlist. Remember to have your clearing number ready. This will help them view your application, personal statement, and results. If a place is still available, the admissions staff member will likely ask you a few questions if you are eligible. This is to see if you are a good fit for the course.

It’s a good idea to prepare for the call. Have all of your information to hand, and research the types of things they are likely to ask you. Be aware that you may need to attend an interview prior to getting accepted.

3. Add the course in Track

If you are accepted, you need to head over to Track to add a clearing choice. Then you’ll also need to contact the university to let them know you have accepted the offer. They may require you to send a letter of acceptance, or a quick email might also be OK. Ask them how they want you to accept the offer and follow their instructions.

Clearing is a great way to secure a place on your chosen course. There are a lot of reasons why universities may have excess vacancies available. Many students think it signals the university isn’t the best. However, it could just be that fewer students are interested in the courses posted. It’s possible you could snag an even better placement through clearing.

The above is a brief guide on clearing how it works and how you should apply. We’d like to take this opportunity to wish good luck to all students with their UCAS application.

Shannan Humphrey

Shannan Humphrey

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