Which Way 99: clearing file: mission possible

if you think you might not have made the grade, it pays to have a back-up plan. Then you can crack the code of clearing

After A-level results come out on Thursday 19 August approximately 279,000 higher education hopefuls (going on last year's figures) will be relieved to hear that they have been accepted at the university or college of their choice. A further 120,000 or so, however, will be taking a deep breath and trying to decide what to do next. Many will opt for what is known as "Clearing".

What is Clearing?

Quite simply, the Clearing process matches unplaced applicants to available places. Whilst the acute disappointment of not getting one's grades after two years of slaving away (or not!) is very real, Clearing is not the mad panic that it is sometimes made out to be. The fact is that last year over 50,000 students found places through Clearing.

Who goes into Clearing?

There are three different types of aspiring students who are eligible for Clearing: those who did not get any offers through UCAS first time around, those who didn't get the grades required to get into the college of their choice, and late applicants - those who are pleasantly surprised by their results and decide to have a go after all.

So, what must I do?

You may already have a gut feeling as to whether you have passed your exams well or not. Don't bury your head in the sand if you think you have cause for concern. It does no harm to have a few back-up choices up your sleeve. It's a good idea to have done some research on where you might like to go and what you'd like to study if you do suddenly have to start making quick decisions.

Firstly, however, do not abandon all hope that the university or college of your choice won't take you. If you have dropped just one or two grades, it may be that they will accept you all the same. Try pleading your case. Universities want students who are committed and they are more likely to take those who have put them as first choice than those who are approaching them for the first time. If you do ring, do have all your reasons prepared - why you didn't do as well as expected, and why the course is just right for you.

Also be prepared for them to offer you a place on a slightly different course - environmental science instead of geography, for example - or a combined course with your subject. You are certainly not obliged to accept an offer on a course that is different from that for which you applied, but if you really like the institution, and the course does not sound that different, it may be worth serious consideration.

If you do go into Clearing you will need a Clearing Entry Form (CEF). This will automatically be sent out to you by UCAS if you do not get a confirmed place. The form will have a special Clearing Entry number which you will have to quote when you talk to institutions. If they are prepared to give you a place, you will then need to send them the original form - faxes and photocopies will not do. Colleges will offer you a PROVISIONAL place subject to receiving your form.

Extra information

Scottish Highers or CSYS results are published on 6 August. Vacancy Information (for Scottish vacancies only) will be available from 6 August.

A-level/AS results are published on 19 August and the vacancy information for all courses will be available from that day.

Applicants who meet the conditions of their firm (F) choice will be placed there. You cannot change your mind at this stage unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Official Vacancy Services will list institutions that have vacancies. In some cases minimum point scores will be given. If no scores are shown you will have to refer to the standard offer grades shown in the UCAS Big Guide or on the StudyLink CD-ROM or contact the institution and ask. Even if you have one or two grades lower it is still worth phoning.

If you have changed your address DO let UCAS know!

Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
News
Sir David Attenborough
people
Life and Style
Young girl and bowl of cereal
food + drink
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
Comic miserablist Larry David in 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'
peopleDirector of new documentary Misery Loves Comedy reveals how he got them to open up
Sport
football
News
i100
Life and Style
Virtual reality headset: 'Essentially a cinema screen that you strap to your face'
techHow virtual reality is thrusting viewers into frontline of global events and putting film-goers at the heart of the action
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Life and Style
David Bowie by Duffy
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
News
advertisingVideo: The company that brought you the 'Bud' 'Weis' 'Er' frogs and 'Wasssssup' ads, has something up its sleeve for Sunday's big match
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Environment
Dame Vivienne Westwood speaking at a fracking protest outside Parliament on Monday (AP)
environment
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

    Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

    Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

    £120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

    Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

    £70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

    £24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
    World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

    Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

    The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
    Why the league system no longer measures up

    League system no longer measures up

    Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
    Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

    Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

    Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
    Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

    Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

    The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
    Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

    Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

    Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
    Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

    Greece elections

    In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
    Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

    Holocaust Memorial Day

    Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
    Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

    Magnetic north

    The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness