Clearing 2020: How to get a university course place on A-level results day

Here is everything you need to know as thousands of degree courses become available

Liam James
Thursday 13 August 2020 10:00 BST
Students around the country will find out their A-level results on Thursday
Students around the country will find out their A-level results on Thursday (PA)

Students across the country will open their A-level results on Thursday and discover whether they have secured a place at their preferred university or college.

But if you have missed out on the grades needed for your chosen course, or you have changed your mind, there are still places available at universities and colleges across the country.

The Ucas Clearing site gives applicants a second chance to apply for vacancies on unfilled courses.

What is Clearing?

Entering the process allows students who do not have a university or college offer to look for free spaces on alternative courses.

They are allowed to apply for a course, as long as their A-level results meet the requirements.

The process opened on 6 July and closes on 20 October.

Who can use it?

Students who miss out on the grades needed for a conditional offer, or who did not receive any offers when they first applied through Ucas, can use the service to secure a place.

It is also open to those who applied late to Ucas after 30 June, as well as those who have declined their firm university place so they can be released to go through Clearing.

How do I log into Clearing?

You need to register online with Ucas and make an application, if you have not already.

Ucas will send you a welcome email, with details of how to access Track on the Ucas website – which goes live at 8am on A-level results day - and your Clearing number, which universities will ask for.

If you originally only applied for one course for the reduced fee of £20, you'll have to pay an additional £5 to apply through Clearing.

How does it work?

You will be able to check all the vacancies via the site’s search tool. The site is regularly updated with new places as they become available so make sure you keep checking for alternative options.

The contact details for the universities and colleges are included in the search tool. Once you have your exam results, you can reach out to the institutions with vacancies that interest you.

Ucas has introduced Clearing Plus for 2020, a new service that allows applicants to bypass the search procedure by matching them to potentially suitable courses based on their grades and qualifications along with original course choices for those who were unsuccessful in their first application.

How should I contact universities?

Ucas recommends preparing some questions about the university, such as about accommodation and the course, before calling them. You should also be ready to tell them why you are interested.

Many universities offer virtual tours online to offer prospective applicants a view of the campus and education facilities.

Make sure you have your Clearing number to hand so they can easily review it and make sure you are available to speak on the phone in case they want to make an informal offer.

Once they have made a definite offer of a place, you should add the Clearing choice in Track. You will be able to do this from 10am on SQA results day and 3pm on A-level results day.

This counts as you officially accepting the place so do not rush the process if you are not completely sure. You may get a number of offers to choose from.

If you do better than expected, can you swap?

Students whose exam grades surpass expectations might like to swap their place for one on another course they would prefer.

You can do this by registering for “Adjustment” via Track from A-level results day until 31 August.

You have five days to look for a new course. If you fail to find one, your original offer will still stand.

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