Race for places is on as Clearing 2012 deadline nears


As the summer holidays draw to a close, new undergraduate recruits turn their minds to Freshers' Week. For them, the next fortnight will involve a flurry of shopping for student essentials (tin opener, Blu Tack) and a hectic calendar of leaving drinks as old friends go their separate ways.

For 157,555 A-level graduates, however, the future isn't quite so certain. According to Ucas, this is the number of students that are currently free to seek a place through Clearing.

Time may be short, but if you're an unplaced student, a number of course vacancies are still available. With a little careful research, a few well-placed telephone calls, and a little planning, you too could soon be campus bound.

Clearing is a process through which unfilled places at UK universities and colleges are matched with prospective undergraduates. So far this year, 45,495 applicants have taken the opportunity. Plenty more could follow, as Ucas accepts new applications until 20 September, and as students with a processed application you can make a Clearing choice until as late as 22 October.

"At this stage, they could be weeks away from starting a course and it's important to make the right decision," says Andrea Robertson, director of customer operations at Ucas. "We would expect to see students taking time to research the courses in Clearing and to call universities and colleges to discuss the requirements in detail."

Start by visiting the Ucas website, which lists Clearing vacancies. Make a note of any that interest you and visit those universities' websites to find out about the course content and structure. It's also important to research the university and its location. If you're still interested, give the institutions a call to chat about your situation. They may offer you a place. You don't have to accept or decline on the spot – you will be given a deadline, and it's a good idea to use that time to shop around, ideally gaining a range of provisional offers to weigh up. Visit these institutions if you can, either by attending an open day or by making arrangements to look around.

Choosing a university is a big decision, so don't make it on your own. Once you've done your research, talk to family, friends and careers advisers. Pop in to your previous school to talk to teachers and advisers there – they may be able to offer valuable insights.

There are some fantastic opportunities to consider. For example, the University of West London has places remaining in fashion design, law, business, and video production and film studies. Bournemouth University has a number of vacancies in its school of tourism. Birmingham City University has places in subjects including computer games technology, forensic computing and automotive engineering. Other reputable universities throughout the UK have spaces too – you might be surprised at the wide variety still on offer.

This is a different picture to recent years, where Clearing has been a quick process with course vacancies being snapped up in the days following the A-level results announcements. This year, universities report a slower process.

"The 2012 'Clearing period' has extended past its traditional two days," says Karen Pichlmann, head of admissions at Bournemouth University. "Students who thought they wouldn't go to university this year but now want to change their mind still have opportunities for starting later this month."

It's important that you look at the big picture when considering Clearing. You may need to make a relatively quick decision, but it must still be a carefully considered one. Take as much time as you can to reflect on the realities of living as a student, including financial considerations, academic and pastoral ones.

Accommodation, for example, can be tricky for late Clearing applicants as many halls of residence will already be full. Make some calls. Contact a university's accommodation services as places do become available at the last minute. Failing that, most universities can help students secure private accommodation nearby, and other students may post advertisements for spare rooms on Facebook or other university-affiliated social media sites.

Prospective undergraduates have absolutely nothing to lose by considering Clearing at that time – but if the right course at the right university with the right facilities isn't there to grab you, don't lose hope. A year out can be a valuable thing. "It's worth remembering that Ucas is now accepting applications for courses starting in 2013," says Robertson. "Clearing is not the only option."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Belong: Volunteer Mentor for Offenders

This is a volunteer role with paid expenses : Belong: Seeking volunteers who c...

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Health & Safety Support Tutor

£19000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Reach Volunteering: Trustees with Finance, Fundraising and IT skills

Voluntary and unpaid, reasonable expenses reimbursable: Reach Volunteering: St...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This market leader in the devel...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent