What to do if you don’t get into your University of choice – a guide to clearing

A-level results day is tomorrow and all across the UK teenagers are worrying about their grades.

One of the biggest fears our school kids have is not being accepted into their university of choice.

If that is the case, try not to worry as that’s where UCAS Clearing steps in.

There are hundreds of courses you can apply for with empty spots on clearing day.

It’s a second chance at a uni place if you didn’t get into your firm or insurance choice, or didn’t receive any offers upon application.

Tracey Lancaster, Deputy Vice Chancellor at Leeds Beckett University, said: “Clearing is extremely important and valuable. It offers those who may have missed the initial application process, but now understand the benefits of applying this year, the opportunity to attend university in the upcoming academic year.”

She continued: “Clearing isn’t just for those who don’t get the grades they need either.

“According to UCAS’ Head of Research and Analysis, there has been a 100% increase since 2012 in the number of students meeting the entry requirements for their first-choice university and asking to be released into Clearing because of the options available now.

“Going through Clearing gives students more flexibility.

“They are likely to be thinking quite differently to when they first applied pre-Covid-19 and this flexibility is a real bonus this year for those who have reconsidered their career path or the location of their chosen university.”

So, if your next step in your university journey is Clearing – here’s what to do:


You can release yourself into clearing through UCAS Track.

Sign into Track and lick “decline my place”.

You’ll be sent to a page explaining what this entails and will need to confirm the decision.

You’ll receive an email confirming you are in Clearing.

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How to apply through Clearing

You need to find a university willing to accept you.

Check UCAS Clearing and the website of the university you are interested in.

Call them and tell the uni what you want to do.

If they have a vacancy, they will take your details and give you a decision either on the spot or shortly afterwards.

If it’s affirmative, head to UCAS Track and add your Clearing choice.

You should only add one Clearing choice at a time.

What to have prepared in advance:

Before results day, make up a list of possible UCAS Clearing choices and universities you’re interested in. Put these in priority when scanning the listings once Clearing is open.

Be available as soon as you have your results.

Start calling universities for vacancies straight away – top 20 universities have Clearing places, but they go fast.

Phone the university yourself. Unless you have a disability that prevents you from doing this you are unlikely to be offered a place if you get your mum to do it.

Try sending an email if you’re not having luck on the phone.

Have your results on hand, a pen and paper to write down phone numbers and take details.

Useful contacts:

UCAS: 0371 468 0 468 (UK callers) or +44 330 3330 230 (outside the UK).

Tracey commented: " Although this year looks different for many A-Level students thinking of heading to University, and there is a level of uncertainty around calculated grades and students getting their first choices, applications are actually up.

"U CAS (The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) has reported the highest number of overall applicants in four years and that a record 40.5% of all UK 18-year-olds have applied to study at university this year.

"During recent weeks, we’ve seen a spike in visitors to our dedicated Clearing page on the Leeds Beckett website, with visits up 30% on last year.

“Whether applicants are coming straight from high school or returning to education as mature students, now is a good time for everyone to invest in their education."

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