Clearing a route to your future

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The Independent Online
If you wish to gain a higher education place for 1997, Clearing is your final opportunity. You are eligible to make use of the Clearing process only if:

tYou are not holding any offers from the main scheme;

tYou applied to UCAS after 30 June (12 June for Route B art applicants);

tYour offers were not confirmed during UCAS Confirmation.

Eligible applicants will automatically be sent a Clearing Entry Form (CEF), together with detailed instructions.

Clearing is designed to match applicants with suitable places, and full official vacancy lists only appear in The Independent and Independent on Sunday.

Applicants who took A-levels or Scottish Highers can expect to receive their forms shortly after the A-level results. Most applicants will have received their CEF by 27 August.

As soon as you receive your CEF, consult the vacancy listings, the first of which is published today in The Independent .Your Clearing Instruction Leaflet will contain telephone numbers of universities and colleges. Make a list of suitable ones.

Next, complete some details on the form, including your telephone number and the name and number of your academic referee. Check that the examination details printed on your form are correct. You are now ready to start phoning!

If a university or college is interested in you, they will ask you to quote your clearing entry number. This is printed in the top right-hand corner of the form. You will probably be asked for your UCAS application number, which is also printed on the form. If the institution is happy that you meet their requirements, they will probably ask you to send your CEF.

Don't be hasty. In doing this they are, effectively, making you an offer (provided that you have been honest on the telephone). If you are sure that the course is the one for you, okay, go ahead.

If you are not familiar with the institution, many are happy to make arrangements to meet applicants and show them round. Remember that you will be spending a few years there; you have to be sure.

Your CEF can only be sent to one institution at a time. You must send the original; a photocopy or fax will not do.

Once you are convinced that you have found the right course, enter the details of the institution and course on the form - the instructions tell you how - and send (or preferably take) it to the university or college. They will then carry out some checks and confirm your place to UCAS.

Clearing is not a desperate scramble for places as many people would have you believe. Last year, well over 40,000 applicants secured places and there were vacancies in more than 17,000 courses. Most applicants who are flexible and have reasonable qualifications gain places.

If you cannot avoid being away during Clearing, you can complete up to four choices of institutions and courses on your CEF and send it to UCAS, who will refer you to those choices - always providing that there are vacancies. However, this is far less likely to secure you a place than contacting institutions yourself. This is called Central Clearing and full details will be given in the instruction leaflet.

Once your place has been agreed, the university or college will notify UCAS. You will then receive an AS18 letter, which officially confirms your place.

Paul McClure,

Head of Operations, UCAS