Which? University reveals top tips to surviving Clearing

With just days to go until A-level results, Which? University has published a new survival guide to help students navigate the Clearing process.

While the majority of students waiting for their A-level results are likely to get the grades they need for their desired first or second choice university options, those who don’t achieve shouldn’t panic. A record 61,300 students found a university place through Ucas Clearing last year – more than 10% of all university admissions. With this in mind, it’s vital that students are prepared for the possibility of entering the Clearing process, should they not meet the requirements of their chosen university.

Which? University has published a survival guide for results day including a free, downloadable step by step leaflet to help students who find themselves in Clearing. The guides include practical advice what to do and how students can ensure they find a course that’s right for them.

Alex Neill from Which? University said:

‘Finding yourself in Clearing can be a stressful time but with tens of thousands of students successfully securing a university place last year via this route, there’s no need to panic.

‘If you don’t quite get the grades you expected, our advice is to act quickly but also carefully, considering your options fully. There’s a wealth of free resources and information on Which? University including advice about going through Clearing and insider tips from admissions tutors and students who went through the process last year.’

Which? University’s five top tips on successfully navigating the Clearing process are:

  • LOOK BACK AT YOUR ORIGINAL CHOICES: A good place to start your Clearing search is with the courses and universities you originally considered. Draw up a shortlist of universities before hitting the phones. Once you’ve found a potential course, make use of available resources to research it – Which? University’s course search will help. Don’t stray too far away from the subject area you originally applied for.
  • CLEARING CALL = MINI-INTERVIEW: Calling a university about a course might be a straightforward conversation and confirmation of a place, but you could equally find yourself on the receiving end of some tricky questions designed to test out your suitability for the course. Plan for the latter, noting down beforehand why that specific course and institution appeals to you.
  • DON’T BE HASTY: You can call every university on your shortlist and verbally accept more than one offer but you can only enter one institution with Ucas to confirm your place. Before making your final decision, try to go along to the university to get a feel of the campus, speak with family, friends or a teacher to gather as much information as possible.
  • DON’T FORGET THE ADMIN: Make sure you formally confirm your place on your chosen Clearing course via Ucas. And before you head off to celebrate, remember to update your student finance application, arrange your accommodation and let your school or college know where you’re going.
  • CONSIDER THE ALTERNATIVES: Clearing isn’t about trying to snatch a place on a course at all costs – it’s about choosing what you’ll spend the next few years of your life studying, and perhaps which career route you’ll go down. There are other paths to consider – a gap year to re-sit your exams next year, a different qualification such an apprenticeship or even degree studies abroad.


Notes to editors:

  1. Which? University is a free and independent website to help students make more informed decision about higher education, featuring more than 30,000 courses and 286 universities and colleges to search and compare. It brings together facts and statistics from official scores 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?.
  2. The UCAS End of Cycle Report 2014 found that 61,300 students found a place through clearing last year (14/15), equating to 10% of all the admissions that year. 47,500 of these related to applicants who were in the main scheme and then entered Clearing for reasons such as not meeting the grades of their conditional offers.
  3. Helplines:
    • Ucas Helpline: 0371 468 0468. Staff will not advise on course choice but are great at sorting our queries on the technicalities of clearing
    • Exam Results Helpline: 0808 100 8000. Each year the Department of Education collaborates with Ucas to run a free telephone exam results helpline.

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