Getting into university through the Clearing system

Left school with decent A-Level results and now decided that you want to carry on studying? Fear not, there’s a perfectly feasible way to get into the college of your choice

Friday 08 July 2016 17:00 BST
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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


What a difference a year makes: last summer, thoughts were all about celebrating the A-Level results, getting a job, doing some travelling.

Now, there’s been a change of heart and a university course suddenly looks appealing. The good news is that starting a degree course in September is still an option and it needn’t be a last-minute rush. Since you already have your results why not have a look at what universities have on offer in their clearing before the mad dash for places when this year’s A-Levels are published in August?

Clearing is the process universities use for recruiting students if there are any vacancies left on a course which is due to start in the autumn. By the end of June, after having made their offers to pupils about to sit exams, universities publish lists of remaining vacancies on their websites and through Ucas.

That’s how it’s possible to get an application in before all the other thousands who will be trying to get on courses once they discover their results are better than they predicted.

Luke Champion, applicant experience manager at The University of the West of England, Bristol (UWE Bristol) explains: “Clearing at this stage is for people who know their results already such as from Btec or other vocational grades, those who have successfully completed an International Baccalaureate, access course or have A-Level results from a previous year. If this is you, it means there’s no need to wait to enter the system and apply.

“In situations such as this, universities treat you as a late applicant and use the window between Clearing opening on July 4, 2016, and A-level results being published on August 18 to find the best potential students for their remaining places.

“You’re in a great position: admissions staff are available to answer your questions and you can confirm your place and get a head start on sorting accommodation.”

Late applicants must still register and apply through Ucas, which then issues a Clearing number. However, all the legwork in finding the right course must be done by the applicant who then needs to make direct contact with the universities or colleges which are still recruiting.

Applicants can talk to as many universities as they like but can only enter the Clearing offer they want to accept on their Ucas application. The university will do the rest and a place should then be confirmed within a week - it’s as straightforward as that.

“Although you will have missed undergraduate open days, you can still visit a university and make use of any drop-in facilities or self-guided tours such as the ones we have here at UWE Bristol,” Mr Champion says adding: “Not applying earlier might make you feel a bit left behind but in terms of Clearing, it’s quite the opposite: sorting everything out before results day puts you right at the front of the queue.”

*This content was written and controlled by the University of the West of England

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