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Clearing: A Second Chance at University

Sometimes university applications don’t go as smoothly as planned. If your child doesn’t get an offer from one of their universities, or they don’t get the grades needed for the offer they accepted, don’t worry that it’s all over… They still have an opportunity to go to university through something which many students use every year, called Clearing


What is it?

Clearing is a process that allows you to apply for empty places left at universities – which means that even though your child missed out on their preferred choice, they still have the chance of getting in on a university course that isn’t full.

When is it?

Clearing runs from July to September each year. If you child already has their exam results by July (perhaps because they took a gap year after their exams) they can use it any time from when it opens. If your child is waiting to find out their results, they will need to wait until they have them.  


How do you do it?

To apply for university through clearing, you’ll need to do a few things:

  1. First, check which courses are available around the country by visiting the UCAS website. Openings are published here, as well as in The Telegraph newspaper, after the Clearing start date. You can also find out if a specific university or course has openings by contacting that university directly.
  2. Check your child meets the eligibility requirements:

-They hold no offers
-Their offers have not been confirmed because they have not met the conditions (eg they did not achieve the required grades)
-They have declined, or not responded to, their offers
-Their offers have not been confirmed and they have declined any alternative offers of course or start date made by those institutions.

  1. Have your child contact universities they are interested in to discuss their options. They’ll need their Clearing number (which is in the Track service on their UCAS account). With that number, the university can view your teen’s application through UCAS.
  2. Cross your fingers. Most universities will provisionally offer places over the telephone if they’re interested in a student. If your child has more than one Clearing option, make sure they speak to each university, see which ones are willing to offer a place, and then carefully consider their choices. Once they’ve made their choice, they can sign into UCAS and enter the university’s details as their Clearing choice. Once that’s done, your child will receive a letter letting them know if the university has officially accepted them.

Other options

You could also look together at the other options which are open to them, to give themselves a bit of time to work out what they want to do next. This might include taking a gap year or going into employment.

Check out Options After College for more ideas.



This article was last updated on 24.04.2018 by Kiran Kaur

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