University Clearing explained: What to do if you don’t get the A-levels needed

PUBLISHED: 11:54 17 August 2016 | UPDATED: 09:46 18 August 2016

You can look for Clearing places online (Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA)

You can look for Clearing places online (Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA)

PA/Press Association Images

If you want to go to university in 2016 but don’t have an offer, Clearing could be for you. Every year thousands of students find university places through UCAS Clearing and go onto a fulfilling degree course. Here some typical questions asked by students about the Clearing process…

What is Clearing?

Clearing is how universities and colleges fill any places they still have on their courses.

It’s an ideal way for students to find another course and you can use the process if you weren’t made any offers, you declined them, you didn’t meet the conditions, or if you applied late, after June 30.

When does Clearing start?

Clearing starts on July 1 and continues up until October 22. But if you don’t yet have your exam results then you will need to wait until you receive them before you can apply through Clearing.

What if I don’t get the results I need?

If you had conditional offers but your exam results didn’t go to plan, you can use Clearing from results day, on Thursday, August 18. UCAS says: “If your exam results are reasonable and you’re flexible on subject/location, there’s a good chance you’ll find another course.”

Where will Clearing vacancies be listed?

Clearing vacancies will be listed at and updated regularly by universities and colleges. If you don’t find the course you’re looking for straight away, try again later.

Most universities will publish their vacancies on their own websites and the Daily Telegraph newspaper also publishes a full list of all Clearing vacancies on A-level results day, and offers a Clearing mobile app.

How do I find out about courses that appeal to me?

With Clearing, you identify courses (with vacancies) that interest you and contact the course providers directly to see if they will offer you a place. Universities are very unlikely to accept you unless you have spoken to them first!

Universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, LSE and UCL don’t usually enter Clearing because there is such a lot of competition to attend these universities in the first place. However, other top universities sometimes enter Clearing for a few courses.

But UCAS says: “Consider different subjects – you don’t have to stick with your original idea.”

What do I do if I’ve found a Clearing course I like?

Once you’ve found a Clearing course that interests you, you’ll need to call the university’s Clearing contact number. The admissions tutor, will ask about your grades and interest in the subject you’re applying for.

After this, you might be offered a place straight away, put on a reserve list, or turned down. It is common for a university to say that an offer is only valid for a certain amount of time. This means you’ll need to add the institution as a choice on UCAS Track during this period for the offer to be upheld by the university. If you receive a verbal offer then ask for written confirmation on email and the agreed time conditions.

You can talk to as many universities as you like, but you can only make one Clearing choice at a time via UCAS Track, and you can only enter a choice after 5pm on results day.

For more information visit

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