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.

Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Life and Style
A small bag of the drug Ecstasy
Health
Life and Style
Floral-print swim shorts, £26, by Topman, topman.com; sunglasses, £215, by Paul Smith, mpaulsmith.co.uk
FashionBag yourself the perfect pair
News
news
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Extras
indybest
News
i100
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

Financial Analyst - Forecasting - Yorkshire

£300 - £350 per day: Orgtel: Financial Analyst, Forecasting, Halifax, Banking,...

Business Architect - Bristol - £500 per day

£500 per day: Orgtel: Business Architect - Banking - Bristol - £500 per day A...

Regulatory Reporting-MI-Bank-Cardiff-£300/day

£200 - £500 per day + competitive: Orgtel: I am currently working on a large p...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...

Day In a Page

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup