Didn’t receive any offers from your chosen universities?

Forgot to reply to your offers by the due date?

Changed your mind about what you want to study?

Or maybe you missed the 30th June deadline?

Whatever your reason for entering UCAS Clearing, this process of securing a place at university doesn't have to be a headache.

Even though A-level results day isn’t until the latter part of August, it’s a good idea to start doing your research now if you feel your grades might not be quite up to scratch for your current offers, or if you already know you will definitely be entering Clearing. 

Make sure you know which course you would like to study, even if you are entering Clearing because you missed a UCAS deadline. The courses you originally applied for might not be available during Clearing, so a backup plan is a must. 

First of all, look at as many universities as possible that are offering the course you are interested in. Read through the content of each one carefully - does it cover all aspects you are keen to learn more about? How many modules do you get to choose (if any)? How will you be taught? Are the entry requirements suitable? Does it include a work experience placement (if you want one)? 

Once you’ve found a bunch of courses you think meet your requirements and you will enjoy studying (try to find at least 5 or 6), it’s time to look more closely at the universities themselves, and what else they can offer you apart from a great degree programme. 

Again, even if you’ve already chosen your preferred universities, it’s best to take another look at what else is out there, in case some (or none) of your original choices have your course available in Clearing. 

When putting together a list of potential universities, there are many factors to consider when deciding which ones are the best for you. 

Think about:

  • how far you want to move away from home
  • how large it is and how many students attend
  • the kind of area in which it is situated
  • what facilities you expect it to provide.
  • how well-supported you will be during your studies - check that all your choices offer services such as counselling, careers advice, union society, personal tutors, medical centre, faith support and anything else you feel you may require assistance with. 
  • What clubs and teams you can join - your university experience isn’t just about studying. It should be balanced with a good dose of socialising!
  • Sports and cultural activities you can take part in - this is especially important if you have a particular interest or hobby. 

League tables are useful for getting down to the nitty gritty, and are a good way of comparing universities in terms of student satisfaction, teaching quality, graduate employability and more.

Full university rankings can be found via the Guardian and the Times. You can also find some honest opinions in our university reviews area. 

When you’ve finished researching all possibilities, put your chosen universities in order of preference, so you can quickly follow each one up as soon as clearing vacancies are released on results day

If you have any questions, jot these down too so you can put them to the admissions tutors over the phone. On the day, have your grades, a copy of your personal statement and some pretty decent reasons why you want to study their course! 

Don’t feel that going through Clearing means you’re settling for second best. It can actually be a chance to better yourself and secure a place at a more reputable university

For the first time last year, some Russell Group universities were forced to enter Clearing due to the new tuition fee system, in order to make up student numbers. In the end, six out of the 24 Russell Group members still had vacancies by August. 

Preparation is key to a smooth (or less bumpy!) journey through Clearing. It’s much easier than students believe it to be, and in 2018, 66,770 of UCAS applicants were placed through Clearing. Not all of your chosen universities may be offering your course through Clearing, but you will still have a head start on the process!

Remember - this planning will also ensure the next 3 or 4 years of your life are happy, memorable ones. So it’s worth getting that computer, pen and paper out now to avoid make a rushed decision that you will later regret.  

Further information

For more tips and advice on Clearing and getting into university, please see:

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions on my post, please leave your message below!