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Clearing: An Introduction

Posted: Tuesday 11 August 2015

If you've missed out on your first choice uni and you're panicking, don't worry; we're here to help.

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You’re not alone. Every year, tens of thousands of students find a place on an awesome university course through UCAS clearing. But what is clearing? Let us enlighten you…

Clearing is a way for universities to fill any spaces they have left for the next academic year and gives students who don’t currently have a place, the opportunity of finding the perfect placement.

The whole process begins on 1st July and goes right through until October. You will need your exam results first though and thus most clearing places are taken by students after A-Level results day; which takes place on 13th August.

Are you eligible for Clearing?

Photo Credit: Mail

As long as you meet the below criteria, you’re good to go;

1. Applied before 30th June and have no offers.
2. Applied before 30th June and have declined all offers.
3. Didn't meet the conditions of your firm choices and have declined any subsequent offers.

NB. If you applied after 30th June you will automatically be put into clearing. And if you are in clearing this will be displayed on your UCAS track.

But where to look…?

To make things super simple, most universities publish the places available on their own websites. Certain newspapers like The Daily Telegraph also publish the places regularly and some places are also advertised on TV. Please do note that universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, etc, don’t usually enter into clearing because the competition is already so high to gain a place.

How Clearing Works.

What is Clearing
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If a university has 40 places on a course, they obviously want to fill all the spaces, so they’re likely to give 80 or so offers out to potential students. Of these students it’s likely that 30 will accept it as their conditional offer and 20 will accept the offer as conditional insurance.

When the universities receive everybody’s exam results before they’re released to students, they can clearly see which students have met requirements and which haven’t.

Therefore, on each course, there is likely to be a number of spots that appear, purely as a result of other students refusing their offer or not making the grade. The university then has a chance to decide to whom they’d like to award the free places.

They will consider the conditional firm offer students, who missed their grades, sort them into a rank and choose the lucky few that will still be offered places. However, they don’t have to offer all of the extra places away, and can proceed on into clearing at any point.

As soon as they’ve done this, UCAS will be notified and the information will go public online and offline. The universities rarely publish how many places are available, but will always let students know the grades they must have achieved in order to compete.

Getting Your Place.

Getting Your Place
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Found a course that interests you? Excellent news! Now all you need to do is call the uni’s Clearing contact number. After an initial discussion, you might well be offered a place straight away, put on a reserve list or turned down. Usually any offers only last for a limited amount of time; 12, 24 or 48 hours for instance.

Please remember, you can speak to as many universities as you like during clearing before you make a final choice. Do also note that you can only make one Clearing choice at a time via the UCAS Track system and that you can only enter a choice after 5pm on Results Day.

What’s the Difference Between Clearing and Adjustment?

Clearing vs. Adjustment
Photo Credit: Aged Mind

You’ll most definitely hear both phrases referenced during the build up to your result exams.

The difference is very simple; Clearing works for any students who don’t have any offers from universities, whilst Adjustment allows any students that have exceeded or met their offers to trade up to a better place.

So there you have it; our guide to Clearing. Not so scary now is it? And remember, you are required to ring the universities and to receive a verbal offer from them before you’re in the clear. (Sorry, not sorry). Happy clearing!

For more information, visit the UCAS website at the following link. is a legal entity to Stitch Group Limited

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