Clearing 2018: Parents guide to helping teenagers find a university place

Here are our top tips for parents preparing for A-level results day

Eleanor Busby
Education Correspondent
Thursday 16 August 2018 07:33 BST
Top ten universities in the UK for student satisfaction, according to Times Higher Education

A-level results day can be a nerve-wracking day for students, but it can also be daunting for parents.

If your child does not get the grades that they were expecting, do not panic. There are many options.

Thousands of degree courses are still available through Ucas’ clearing website – which shows you where there are still places on courses at universities and colleges across the UK.

How can I prepare for A-level results day?

Speak to you teenager about all the options open to them ahead of Thursday – just in case they do not get the grades that they need for the university course of their choice.

They may prefer to take a gap year and consider alternative routes rather than enter clearing.

But if they are set on going to university from autumn, then it is good to speak to them about what they want to do and where they want to study to prepare them for clearing.

It may help to get ready for clearing the night before so your child does not have to worry about it on the day itself. Have your child’s Ucas Personal ID number, as well as the clearing hotline, to hand.

My child did not get their predicted grades – what do I do?

Stay calm. Your child may feel disappointed and upset and the best thing you can do is give them emotional support. Make sure you reassure them that there are many alternative courses available.

If your child has applied for a university place through Ucas, then they will be able to sign in to the online system Track from 8am to check whether they have been entered into clearing.

The website will show a list of vacancies available through clearing for universities and courses. You will be able to search through the site – which is updated regularly – to look for potential options.

Make sure that your teenager has their clearing number, Personal ID number, their exam results and the details of their qualifications before they start contacting universities.

Who do they call?

You could help your teenager to draw up a shortlist of courses they are interested in. But they should be the one to call the university or college to ask them if they have a place.

If the university or college accepts your child onto the course, then you can add it on Track. But it should only be entered onto the website if that is definitely where your child wants to go.

Once the choice is added, it is then up to the university to confirm the place in Track. You'll be able to add a different choice if the university or college does not confirm the place.

Are courses in clearing not as good?

There are tens of thousands of courses available in clearing this year – including at Russell Group universities, which are widely considered the UK’s top universities.

Traditionally clearing has been seen as a last resort, but university chiefs have insisted that there will be plenty of high-quality courses accessible through clearing - including law, languages, engineering, astrophysics, maths and English.

There is no cap on the number of students a university can admit – and there has been a fall in the 18-year-old population – so there is intense competition between universities to attract candidates.

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