Which Way UK: The Clearing process

Sharon Duggan from UCAS explains the process of deciding on and confirming a place
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The Independent Online

Confirming your place at university or college should be a straightforward process, as long as you follow the official guidelines. UCAS will write to you with detailed advice about how to reply to offers and you can also use Track, an online service which allows you to follow the progress of applications and reply to offers through the UCAS website - www.ucas.com. Your track password is sent to you along with your UCAS welcome letter.

You need to reply to each offer in one of the following ways:
* Firm acceptance (F)
* Insurance acceptance (I)
* Decline (D)

When to reply

You need to reply by the date printed on your offer letter. If you do not reply by that date your offers will be withdrawn, so make sure you reply in good time and don't risk losing your place. Think carefully before you decide which offer to accept, because once you have taken that decision you are bound to that course.

Clearing

If you decide to turn down any offers, are not made any offers, or fail to meet the grades of your offers in your examinations, you can take part in Clearing in August. If you qualify for Clearing you will automatically be sent a Clearing Entry form (CEF) and an instruction leaflet explaining what to do. The UCAS Clearing vacancy information service will run from Thursday 18 August (or Tuesday 9 August for Scottish vacancies only).

Find out which courses have vacancies and make a shortlist of all the ones you are interested in. You can find out more about courses and universities online through the UCAS website. Some courses have entry profiles which provide more detailed course information. You can also look at university and college websites.

The lists are updated continually but not all universities, colleges and courses have vacancies in Clearing, and some vacancies are filled quickly. There is no guarantee that places will be available on any particular course. Make contact with universities and colleges as soon as you can. Even if you declined an offer earlier in the year, you are still eligible to contact that university or college again to see if they will accept you through Clearing.

You can approach the universities or colleges directly - usually by phone - and you may be interviewed over the line. If they want to accept you, they will ask for your Clearing Entry Form. Don't jump straight in at the first offer you are made. Another later vacancy might suit you better.

How do I know I have a place?

When the university or college receives your Clearing Entry Form, it will either offer you a place or send back your form. If you decline the offer, or if you are unsuccessful, your Clearing Entry Form will be sent back to you and you can continue on your search for a suitable course elsewhere. After a brief period of contemplation, if you should decide to accept an offer, the university or college will confirm your place to UCAS and you will be sent official confirmation of this. Now you can start to make some concrete plans for your future studies.

Important information for overseas students

UCAS has been made aware of a number of e-mails being circulated to overseas students offering the opportunity to live, study and work in the UK. These e-mails have not originated from UCAS and should be regarded by everyone as potentially fraudulent. The organisation carrying out this scheme is charging £850 to unsuspecting individuals. UCAS takes applications from all students, irrespective of their country of origin, for a set fee of £5 for one application or £15 for up to six applications. Should you have received an e-mail purporting to come from UCAS please do not respond but contact communications@ucas.ac.uk.

Further information

The UCAS website, www.ucas.com: Continually updated course vacancy information will be available from Thursday 18 August until Friday 16 September.

Newspapers: The Independent newspaper will also publish vacancy information from August to early September.

Onelife Onelife is a results helpline for guidance through Clearing. Call +44 (0)808 100 8000 free. Lines are open daily from Tuesday 9 August to Sunday 28 August inclusive.

UCAS Helpline

+44 (0)870 1122211 Monday-Friday
15 August - 2 September 8am to 6pm;
18-19 August, 8am to 8pm;
27, 29 August, 9am to 12pm; Saturday 20 August, 9am to 5pm.
Have your UCAS application ready

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