Which Way: The Clearing process

Follow this step-by-step guide and see your way through Clearing, says Richard Wallis
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The Independent Online

Who is eligible?

Clearing is for people who have applied for a higher education place through UCAS and:

* Were turned down by all the universities and colleges they applied to

* Declined all the offers they were made

* Applied too late to take part in the main UCAS scheme (after 30 June)

* Missed their grades for a conditional offer

What happens?

UCAS automatically sends you a Clearing Entry Form (CEF) and instructions, straight after your results are released, if:

* You are holding no offers

* You miss your grades and are turned down by the universities or colleges that had accepted you conditionally

What happens next?

Look for vacancies on other courses. These are published on the UCAS website ( www.ucas.com) and in The Independent newspaper from 18 August to 8 September. In Scotland the listings are published in The Scotsman and The Independent newspapers from 9 August.

Contact universities and colleges directly, usually by phone, though some take e-mail or online applications. Have your Clearing Entry number available. You can also get this number from the "Track" section on the UCAS website.

Approach as many institutions as interest you. Take time to think any offers over. If a university or college is pretty sure it wants to offer you a place, it will ask for your CEF. Send it in only if you want to accept that place, and tell any other institution you've been talking to about your decision.

If accepted, UCAS will write to you and you'll see the acceptance in the Track page of the UCAS website.

Remember

You are being asked to make quick decisions, so knowing what you want will help. A wide range of institutions and courses go into Clearing, but some hard-to-get-into universities or colleges, or oversubscribed courses such as medicine, might not appear in the vacancies. You need to decide whether to look for another course or consider reapplying in 2006.

If you have a confirmed place and are not going into Clearing, UCAS sends you an AS12 confirmation letter. You can also check this information in Track on the UCAS website.

These are life decisions you are making, so it's important to check places out before accepting: visit, look at websites, and check important details such as what accommodation is available.

Extra help or advice

Onelife: 0808 100 8000; a results advice and guidance helpline. Phone lines are open daily from 9 August to 28 August

UCAS helpline: 0870 112 2211; opening times: Monday 15 August to Friday 2 September 8am to 6pm; 18-19 August 8am to 8pm; Saturday 20 August 9am to 5pm; Saturday 27 August 9am to noon; Monday 29 August 9am to noon

Richard Wallis works in the customer services unit at UCAS

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