A-level results day is stressful enough, so having a basic understanding of the university Clearing process in advance can be a very useful tool to have. Separate fact from fiction with our helpful UCAS Clearing myth-buster.
MYTH: Russell Group universities don’t use Clearing
They most certainly do. The Russell Group represents 24 world-class, research-intensive universities – and 16 of them, including Bristol and Edinburgh, used Clearing in 2018. Some unis announced whether they had places available when Clearing opened, but others wait until results day. “It’s very fluid and the UCAS website always has the most up-to-date list of available courses,” say UCAS.
MYTH: Clearing opens on A-level-results day
The 2019 Clearing process was available for use from 5 July, so if you had already received your exam results but didn’t have any university offers, you could have used Clearing from this date onwards. IB results were published on 5 July, for instance, while Scottish Qualifications Authority results came out on 6 August. “The general rule is that, when you’ve got your results, you can use Clearing,” say UCAS. Not all course spaces were available at this earlier stage, though, so you haven’t missed out.
MYTH: If you use Clearing, you can’t apply for any subject – only the one you originally applied for
“Even if you applied for marine biology but you’ve now realised that food science is your calling, there’s nothing to stop you from contacting universities to ask for a place,” say UCAS. Note: you’re only eligible for Clearing if you have no offers. If you get your grades but change your mind about your course, you can decline your place online and enter Clearing. If you’ve had conditional offers but miss your grades and decide to study something else, you do this through Clearing, too.
MYTH: The most popular subjects are never available
It used to be unheard of for oversubscribed courses like medicine to be on offer through Clearing, but the situation has changed. Numbers are still small, but keep a close eye on Clearing vacancies and you may get lucky. St George’s, University of London, offered medicine places through Clearing in 2016, 2017 and 2018, and will likely to have a small number in 2019, too.
TRUTH: If you don’t want to accept your firm choice, you can find an alternative
Anyone can use Clearing if they want to. If you no longer want your firm choice, you can decline it in Track and enter Clearing. Get advice from teachers, parents and unis to make an informed decision.
MYTH: You can’t go back to universities that rejected you
Clearing allows you to apply to any university with vacancies, even if they rejected you first time round. If you meet the entry requirements and are still keen to go, talk to them.
MYTH: Clearing is for people with low grades
“Some students have declined their offers, others might not have received any – perhaps if they applied for particularly competitive courses, and some applied after 30 June and automatically entered Clearing,” say UCAS.
TRUTH: Oxford and Cambridge never offer places through Clearing
It’s true that Oxford and Cambridge don’t offer places through Clearing. However, Cambridge is participating in the UCAS Adjustment process for the first time in 2019, giving young people from under-represented backgrounds, who were interviewed but got turned down, a second chance to secure a place. The Adjustment process allows anyone who exceeds the grade requirements of their firm offer to swap to another university.
MYTH: The best places get snapped up in minutes
Students do need to act quickly, though, as places don’t hang around. Vacancies update constantly throughout Clearing as universities open and close courses. “In 2018, almost 60 per cent of those who would be accepted in Clearing had their place confirmed within three working days of A-level-results day,” say UCAS.
TRUTH: If you change your mind and want to swap your firm and insurance choices after receiving your A-level results, you can
If you get the grades for your firm choice but want to opt for your insurance choice instead, you MUST go through Clearing (it’s vitally important to contact your insurance choice first and check that they can accept you through Clearing, though).
Do you have any questions about your A-level results? Whether it's about remarks, retakes or a general 'what if', Hannah Morrish, education community manager at The Student Room is on hand to answer your questions.