Courses: All set for the campus stampede

As the Scottish 'Higher' results are published, Philip Schofield outlines the next steps for students

Young Scots got the results of their Highers last Friday and must now plan what to do next. Those with a university or college offer, and the necessary grades, should receive confirmation of a place within a few days. They should then contact the institution's accommodation office if they need a place in a hall of residence or other accommodation. Many institutions can guarantee residence on campus only to those who apply in time.

A student with an offer and the required grades, but who decides not to accept it, should tell the admissions office at once. Those with grades better than expected can accept or reject offers already made of them. However, they cannot try for a place at what they think is a "better" university in the current year; they will have to wait until next year, and will still have no guarantee of acceptance. On the other hand, if they want to change courses, they should tell the university immediately.

Those with better results than expected, but no offer, should ring the admissions tutors at any institutions which rejected them and ask them to reconsider.

Those with disappointing results need not panic. There are plenty of vacancies and most students will find a place on their desired course or one at another university or on an alternative course. However, they need to act quickly and may have a lot of telephoning to do.

Those who just missed the grades needed for an offer should at once phone the admissions tutor (quoting their Ucas number) to see if they can still be accepted. Most admissions tutors prefer students they have previously accepted rather than wait for the Ucas clearing.

However, bear in mind that admissions tutors have to "over-offer", knowing that some students will not get the grades needed. If enough people to fill the course get the required grades, admissions staff cannot accept lower grades. Those with two or more offers should contact the institutions in order of preferences. Students must be turned down by their first choice before they contact the next.

Those who get no offers need not despair. There is still the Ucas "clearing" process which matches unsuccessful applicants with unfilled course places. Last year this admirable system helped 52,248 people obtain places on degree courses and 8,288 on HND courses. Clearing starts on Thursday to coincide with the release of A-level results. Admissions offices send details of all their unfilled places to Ucas and the official lists of these vacancies are published, with contact phone numbers, in The Independent, on the BCTIS database (available in most schools or careers offices) and on Ceefax. However, the position changes daily.

Students must apply personally to institutions by telephone. That is most important. Stan Farrow, assistant director of admissions at St Andrews University, says: "We want to deal with the youngster, not the parent."

To make sure students are genuinely unplaced, and not just trying to change universities, they are normally asked for their personal "Clearing Entry Form" or CEF number. These are sent out automatically to all unplaced students. The CEF is valuable and should be looked after.

Having Highers results a week before clearing gives students in Scotland valuable time to assess their situation. They should be ready to start making applications as soon as clearing starts (and while A-level students are still coming to terms with their results).

Admissions tutors want to know a student's grades and may conduct a brief telephone interview. Pat McLean, admissions officer at Heriot-Watt University, says: "We look for evidence of students having done some research and that they have some knowledge of the university." James Brown, head of the admissions office at Glasgow University, says: "We look for a commitment to the subject area. We want to know why they are applying to us, if they have read our prospectus, and what differentiates us from other universities." He also asks students "why they didn't get the grades they expected."

If offered a place, students are likely to be asked for a quick acceptance. Students must be confident that they have chosen the right course. Once offered a place, they must send their CEFs (not photocopies) to the admissions office. This is to prevent multiple applications.

Some institutions ask students to telephone with their grades and discuss their interests. The institution will then send a list of the courses which appear to suit the student's interests, which will accept the grades earned by the student, and on which it currently has vacancies. This will be accompanied by leaflets and other material on the courses to permit an informed decision to be made quickly.

There are two useful sources of advice and information for students still uncertain of what to do. Staff in schools are often available during the few days immediately after publication of exam results and local careers services should be able to help.

Careers services, once run by local authorities, were contracted out under the last government and may be found under 'Careers advice' in Yellow Pages or by contacting the local education authority. Students whose results are not good enough for a degree course, and who are interested in a vocational subject should consider a Higher National Diploma. There is a huge range of subjects and an HND is well respected by employers.

Some students, discouraged by their results and now thoroughly put off further full-time study for the time being, enter employment. But this need not be the end to their aspirations to study for a degree in a few years' time.

Many employers are keen to recruit school-leavers with Highers and put them on to their management training schemes. These include many parts of the financial services industry such as banking, insurance and accountancy; national retail chains, the hotels and leisure industry; and the Merchant Navy and Armed Services.

Although few of these employers will sponsor employees through a degree course, many will guarantee a job for those who later on take leave of absence to take a degree as a mature student.

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
Life and Style
Gap announced its same-store sales were down 6 per cent in August, and 3 per cent in September
fashionAlexander Fury explains where Gap is going wrong
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
News
Rainbow List
News
Bruce, left, with Cream bandmates Ginger Rogers, centre, and Eric Clapton in 1967
people
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
Cronenberg: 'Ageing is part of life. There is a beauty to it; you just have to find a way to grasp that beauty'
arts + ents
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.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Compensation and Benefits Manager - Brentwood - Circa £60,000

£60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Compensation and Benefits Manager - Compensat...

Data Analyst/Planning and Performance – Surrey – Up to £35k

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

IT Systems Business Analyst - Watford - £28k + bonus + benefits

£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...

Markit EDM (CADIS) Developer

£50000 - £90000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CA...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?