Clearing puts students in control

With places available across more courses and institutions than ever before, there’s even more opportunity to snap up a place

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The Independent Online

Last year, almost half a million people started their undergraduate journey by embarking on degree courses in the UK, the highest number ever. This year around the same amount are expected to begin their studies across the country.

But for those who haven't yet made up their mind about whether to go to university, or for those whose plans have changed since they applied, or even those who don't quite get the results they hoped for, Clearing offers an opportunity to snap up a place.

In 2014, over 61,000 students secured their places through Clearing, a year which saw places available at the majority of institutions and across more courses than ever before.

Students who achieved ABB or above in A-levels were able to 'trade up' and take up an offer at a different institution to the one they had initially chosen through Ucas.  Therefore it was a busy time for all universities, and very different from previous years when some universities had places available and others were full.

This year, the goal posts have moved once more, with the Government removing the student number cap completely, meaning universities can recruit as many students as they wish. Students are much more in control of their own destiny, and for those who don't quite get the grades they were hoping for, there are options.

Katie Blaylock secured a place at Sheffield Hallam to study a degree in biology through Clearing. She says: "I dropped one grade in my A-levels, but because my firm and insurance choices had the same offer grades I was unsuccessful with both, so I entered Clearing instead.

"I was incredibly upset because of how much effort I put into my A levels, and also because my friends had got into other universities on the same grades I got when I hadn’t, and I was confused and nervous about what to do next.

"I saw that Hallam was one of the universities with places available on the course I wanted to do. I knew friends who had been to Hallam and loved it here, which was a big thing.

"The process was very easy. I called up the clearing hotline and gave my details, and I then spoke to a tutor and was given my offer – everyone I spoke to was friendly and supportive and made the whole process a lot easier."

Nicola Rawlins, director of admissions at Sheffield Hallam says: "Recent changes in policy have meant that Clearing is now very different to how it has been in previous years. Yet the process from the student's perspective is still the same - if you're interested in a place, call us.

"We know it can be quite a stressful time, particularly if things don't go to plan. And the best way to minimise stress on results day is to be fully prepared. We have lots of useful information on Clearing on our website, including FAQs, a checklist, stories from current students who secured places through clearing, and lots more.

"We publish up-to-date lists of courses with places available online on the morning of results day. Students can check the website and then call us to discuss their options on our clearing hotline from 6.30am that day. But as usual, we do expect places to fill quickly."

For Katie, choosing to take up a place at Sheffield Hallam was the best decision she could have made. She says: "I've had a fantastic few years here and I'm doing really well. I'm currently at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital doing lab-based medical research as a year's work placement. It's a great opportunity that I wouldn't have had elsewhere.

"I've also made the best friends here, and I genuinely couldn't imagine being anywhere else."

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