Thousands of university clearing places up for grabs ahead of A-level results

Students urged to ‘shop around’ as 132 universities make courses available to those without confirmed offers

Adam Forrest
Saturday 11 August 2018 01:07 BST
Students across the country will receive their A-level results next week
Students across the country will receive their A-level results next week (PA)

Students fretting over a last-minute place at university have been told not to panic as tens of thousands of courses are still available.

As pupils across the country anxiously await their A-level results next week, the latest research shows there are 26,587 courses listed as available through the UCAS clearing website.

The system is designed to provide places on unfilled courses to students not holding any offers from universities.

In total, 132 of the 148 universities in the UK are advertising at least one course through UCAS.

Among the 24 Russell Group institutions, widely considered the UK’s top universities, 18 of them have at least one course advertised on the clearing site, with 4,706 courses potentially available.

Traditionally dismissed as the courses nobody wanted, university chiefs insisted plenty of high-quality courses would be accessible through clearing.

Law, languages, engineering, astrophysics, maths and English are among the subjects listed, amid intense competition between universities to attract candidates.

There has been a fall in the numbers of would-be students applying to university for this autumn, with 636,960 submitting applications by the end of June – down 2 per cent on 2017.

Application numbers from UK students are down 3 per cent on last year, with England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland all seeing falls.

There has also been a fall in the 18-year-old population in England, and there is now no cap on the number of students a university can admit.

It means students seeking clearing places next week are likely to have plenty of options open to them.

“Long gone are the days when clearing was the last resort for A-level candidates whose results meant they were scrambling for a place at university,” says Richard Harvey, academic director of admissions at the University of East Anglia.

“Student behaviour has changed and they’re happy to take their time and ‘shop around’, collecting offers before they make their final decision.”

Alistair Jarvis, chief executive of Universities UK, said more than 10 per cent of university places are now secured through clearing.

“Clearing is increasingly popular and an excellent way to find a course that is right for you,” said Mr Jarvis.

“Universities recognise the high quality of applicants now in clearing. Most universities will make places available. It’s open to everyone and most subjects are available, including some highly competitive courses.”

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