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Clearing - Second Chance or First Choice?

Updated: Jan 7, 2021

Clearing is a system where all UK Universities can advertise the degree courses where they still have spare capacity. The official Clearing site opened on 6th July and is run by UCAS. It can be accessed through This is, in some senses a very efficient market place both for the Universities and for students.

And a market place it is; whereas in the past Clearing was seen as a hunting ground for people who had been rejected, now it is seen as a very viable alternative to the formal UCAS application process. Indeed some students now start their UCAS application once they have received their results and access their University choices through Clearing. Whilst this can be a viable path for some, if you want to study at highly competitive universities on top academic programmes, it is unlikely they will appear in Clearing. Universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, LSE and UCL have a policy that they do not have places in Clearing. Similarly, Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary courses are highly unlikely to ever feature in this system. However, there will always be plenty of opportunities for Law, Engineering, Humanities programmes and Science degrees at top universities such as Kings College, Warwick, Bristol, Edinburgh, if you are presenting with the right qualifications.

Students who already have offers may go into Clearing to see if there are better opportunities available. For those who have changed their minds about what they want to study, Clearing can give them a window into what other courses they could switch too and of course Clearing is still there for those who have not made their conditional offers, and it continues to act as a second chance

How to Use Clearing

If you haven’t already applied you need to register to and submit an application. If you are already in the system then you can log into Clearing and start exploring.

Once you have identified a degree course, you need to call the University and ask if they would consider you for a place. Ideally you will secure some informal offers over the phone from various universities and then you can decide which ones you want to pursue.

Before you make your choices though, it is worth bearing in mind the following points.

  • Do your research – do not leap blindly into making a choice because you are desperate to have it sorted.

  • Check out the content of the degree year by year.

  • Try and visit the university, or do a virtual online tour.

  • Look up student feedback on the course and the university as a whole.

  • Find out if there is still student accommodation available.

  • Don’t be pressured into accepting an offer over the phone, however persuasive they are.

Once you have made a choice you can add one Clearing choice onto your UCAS application. Call the university first to tell them to expect your application and to get the right course details, you then have to wait for the University to accept you. Once the University confirm this, it will then count as you accepting the offer. If they don’t confirm your place then you will be able to add another choice.

If you are already holding an offer from another University and you want to change, you must contact them to ask them to release you from your offer so you can enter Clearing. You cannot add another choice until you have been released.

If you have not met the conditions of your offers then you should automatically be released into Clearing.

Be Prepared

Whether you have already received your IB results or are waiting for A Level results in August, it pays to be prepared. Go into Clearing and see what is available and make a note of any courses you are interested in. See if you meet their criteria and have a preliminary conversation with them to see what they are looking for in a student.

  • Keep checking, Universities will regularly update their Clearing offers as people accept and reject them.

  • If you find an interesting course then be quick to follow it up, as things move quickly and there may only be one or two places available.

  • Bear in mind that in many cases Clearing is a buyers’ market with universities keen to fill their places, so it is always worth a call even if you do not quite meet their entry criteria.

If you have not made your offers then do not be downhearted – this is not life defining and there are plenty of other options. Consider looking at alternative courses, or look for a joint honours degree.

Clearing can be very stressful, especially around A Level results time but if you have done your research and have a list of universities ready to approach then you just need to keep trying until you secure a place where you want to be.

For advice on clearing please contact the Fiona at Carfax on : 0097144385276

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