Lack of support for students in clearing

As thousands await their A-level results, Which? University reveals that one in five students who went through clearing last year felt there was a lack of support.

One in five (20%) students felt unsupported or on their own in the clearing process and four in ten (40%) said they didn’t have enough information or advice to help them through.

Three quarters (73%) of students said they were unsure what to expect when phoning universities with clearing spaces, and nearly half (46%) admitted they accepted a place without doing as much research as they wanted.

Although the majority of students who gained their place through clearing are satisfied with their university (75%) and course (80%), they are significantly more likely to regret their choice of university (17% versus 9%) or course (15% versus 9%) than those who met their original offers.

They are also twice as likely to say they are not satisfied with their choice of university than those who didn’t go through clearing (13% versus 6%).

Jenni Allen, from Which? University, said:

“Choosing the right university and course is hugely important, so even in clearing, students shouldn’t rush or feel pressured into a decision they may later regret. Students should use free advice sites, like Which? University, which has a wealth of practical, impartial information to help students going through clearing this year.”

Which? University is a free and independent website to help students make more informed decisions about higher education, featuring information on more than 30,000 courses and 353 universities and colleges to search and compare.

It brings together facts and statistics from official sources including UCAS, the Higher Education Statistics Agency, the National Student Survey and Destination of Leavers of Higher Education survey. This is combined with real-life insight from students and the
unbiased, expert analysis you’d expect from Which?.

For students who don’t want to go through clearing and instead want to appeal their A-level grade, the Which? Consumer Rights website has a step-by-step guide on the process.

Notes to editors:

1. Other findings from the survey include:

– Students who went through clearing are less likely to say they ‘fit in’ at their university that those who didn’t (66% vs 77%).
– Half (48%) described clearing as stressful.
– A third (33%) didn’t feel prepared when contacting universities.
– Three in ten (30%) wish they’d done more research into their choice of course and university.
– Nearly half (45%) rushed to make a decision about where to go, and two in five (38%) said they panicked.
– Nearly four in ten (37%) admitted they felt pressured to take the first offer they received.
– 75% of clearing students are satisfied with their choice of university and 80% with their course.

2. YouthSight, on behalf of Which?, interviewed 8,053 undergraduate students attending UK universities. Of these 390 first year students gained their university place through clearing. Interviews were conducted online between 8th July and 8th August 2013.

3. According to the UCAS End of Cycle Report 2012, there were 55,700 acceptances through the clearing process last year – just under 12% of all university admissions.

4. Helplines:

– UCAS, 0871 468 0468: staff will not advise on course choice, but are great at sorting out queries on the technicalities of clearing.
– Exam Results helpline, 0808 100 8000: each year the Department for Education collaborates with Ucas and the BBC to run a free telephone exam results helpline.
– Information about clearing and available places can be found on the UCAS website. Prospective students can use the #ucasclearing hashtag to find the latest updates.

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