As a student preparing to go to university in the UK, you may encounter one of two of these scenarios.

One, your results are out, but you have had a change of mind on the course you want to pursue or even the location of your university.

Or, your results may be below expectations, and you didn’t meet the course conditions. But you’re determined to go to a UK university.

The good news is, for both these scenarios, you have a chance to make it to university through a process that is known as Clearing.

UCAS, or the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, that you know by now, is a UK-based organisation assisting in the application process for British universities.  Clearing gives everyone the chance to go to university.

What is Clearing?

During this process, university applicants are matched to places that haven’t been filled, provided you made the application through the UCAS Undergraduate application process.  Here are the basic conditions to qualify for clearing:

  • Your results didn’t meet requirements for your first and second choice courses.
  • You accepted an offer but had a change of mind about the course you want to do.
  • Your place is not confirmed after exam results are published on 13th August.
  • You apply to UCAS after 30th June.

It is vital to keep in mind that Clearing is not about matching courses that no one wants to students who may not make the cut of their first or second choices.  This process is about giving places to students who may have missed opportunities for a chance to be at university or had a change of heart and wants to pursue a tertiary education.  In 2019, UCAS notes that over 64,000 students obtained places via clearing.

How do I get into Clearing?

An easy step to take is to talk to your college, school, careers counsellor or any advisors here at MABECS.  Explore alternative subjects or courses and feel free to look at details on UCAS’s site itself.  There are handy search tools available on the site that list up-to-date courses.  Use this as a guide to think about different subjects.  Perhaps a mixed course, say, a joint honours course, or something completely different to your first choice.

Always keep checking as universities update their course information regularly and new vacancies can pop up.  Look at the entry requirements and structure, so you are well-informed once you start the Clearing for your new course.

Be sure to be aware of the Track system, created by UCAS, to allow you to check the progress of your application.

A-Levels results and Clearing?

If you’ve done A-levels but missed out on the grades you need, there is a chance the university you picked will accept you. Here are other scenarios to consider.

  • Depending on your exams, your first or second choice may be offered.
  • Or you might be offered an alternative by the university/college to what’s called a ‘changed course offer’.
  • Or take the opportunity to search through the Clearing service of UCAS to see your options.

On the contrary, your grades may have been better than expected so you have the option of searching through UCAS’ Adjustment service if you are curious about courses that need a higher entry requirement.

International Baccalaureate (IB) results and Clearing

You got the IB results and it meets requirements. The university will be aware of your grades so you can sit tight, there is no need for further action. Just be patient as during results day, the system can get really busy.  If there are no updates, contact the university directly.

But, if you didn’t score the required grades, check the fineprint. A university offer is dependent on different factors.  Say, it is possible to get the required overall grade but not for your individual subjects. Check the requirements thoroughly.

Be patient here too, as your chosen university may wait till other result days before deciding on offering you a place. If your second choice university is not available to you, consider entering the Clearing process.

IGCSE and Clearing

As IGCSE’s are being accepted at universities, your process of obtaining a place in the UK is dependent on your results meeting your course requirements.

Some universities may require an additional English test requirement to meet UK visa’s conditions.

It’s all down to research.  Do your homework early to find out what grades are needed to enter the university of your choice with IGCSEs.

Each university has its own way of assessing an application so be thorough about what you need to score in order to secure a place.   University websites offer information about minimum entry requirements.  For popular courses, there may be requirements for higher grades and consideration for additional academic or non-academic achievements.

If unsure, always check with your college advisor or you can go to the UCAS site to see if you are eligible for clearing.  This also applies if you haven’t applied to a university in time.