Clearing 2020

What is Clearing?

Clearing is a chance for students to look for a university place if they don’t have one, after they’ve received their exam results. It is also used by students who have a confirmed place, but are thinking of changing.

This is when the support a parent or carer provides is essential

It is important to stay positive if things don’t go to plan.

There will be plenty of places available in clearing, so look at the options available together. Students in clearing can click the “My matches” button in Track to see a list of courses they have been matched to, based on their application. Alternatively, the search tool on UCAS allows you to view all course vacancies.

These are live now.

If you pursue a course via clearing, speak to the university or college directly.

Make sure you get the offer of a place in writing from the university or college first before committing to anything on the UCAS Track page.

Don’t rush in

Whatever your reasons for looking for a course via Clearing, don’t rush in.

It is important to research the course and the university or college. Be prepared to ask the questions that matter most – such as accommodation and financial support.

Look for impartial sources of IAG (Information, Advice, and Guidance) to support your decision-making. The Discover Uni website allows you to compare courses at different locations across a range of factors – including long-term earnings data. The Student Room is the UK’s biggest online student community. It is a great resource, full of opinions and experiences of students currently studying higher education courses across the UK.

The alternatives

A record number of 18-year-olds have applied for higher education courses this year (40.5%), with a marked increase once the COVID-19 pandemic hit the UK. In part, this can be explained by the economic uncertainly that the UK is facing. In the short-term, there is likely to be a contraction in the number of routes into work at age 18.

Universities have also been dealing with an increase in the number of applicants wishing to defer their places for a year. That option can be discussed with the university or college directly, once a place has been secured. Any reservations around a socially distanced student experience need to be balanced against what the student plans to do for 12 months – if they delay their start to September 2021.

There are alternatives to the traditional higher education degree courses (eg. Foundation Degrees, HNDs). These are work-based (vocational) routes that are based in both colleges and universities.

Appeals and resits

This should be discussed with the student’s school or college in the first instance. If the appeal is successful, universities and colleges may be able to revisit a decision not to award a place.

Who do we speak to?

All universities and colleges operate Clearing helplines on results day. Increasingly, universities are using social media channels to provide advice and guidance. Clearing enquiries can also be made online which can be quicker than providing information over the phone.

Further Reading:


Article author – Ian McGarry, GM Higher Information, Advice, and Guidance Manager. 

In a higher education admissions career spanning over 15 years, Ian has managed results day operations at four different UK universities.


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