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Clearing: Chapter's Guide to UCAS




12 August 2020


UCAS Clearing is a second chance at getting a place at university, by matching students that want a university place to universities with unfilled places.

Although Clearing might normally be focused on students who didn't get the grades needed for their university choices, this year's challenging circumstances mean it will probably be quite different to previous years.

You might get better grades than expected on results day, and Clearing will be the perfect opportunity to secure a spot at a different university or course that might not have been previously available. Or don't worry if you don't get the results you want on A-Level results day, Clearing will still offer plenty of opportunities for you to go to university in September. 

You can apply for a course using Clearing if you’re not already holding an offer from a university or college and if the course still has places. You can use Clearing if you:

  • Didn’t get into your firm or insurance choice universities
  • Didn’t receive any offers when you first applied
  • Are applying after 30th June 2020
  • Don’t want the places you've been offered and self-release into Clearing
  • Were unsure about university during the first round of applications and didn’t apply
  • Got better grades than predicted – you may be able to get a place on a different course at a university that asks for higher grades through UCAS Clearing and Adjustment

Clearing can also be useful if you've changed your mind about the course you originally applied for and want to go for a different one.


Clearing is something that would ideally be considered before you get your final A-Level results. Try to be as prepared as possible ahead of results day so you can action the below as soon as possible - Clearing spots will fill up fast with universities, so make sure you're free for the day.

You'll be able to see you're in Clearing if your Track status says 'You are in Clearing' or 'Clearing has started'. Alternatively, if you follow the on screen prompts to decline your firm place, your Track status should then say ‘You are in Clearing’ or ‘Clearing has started’.


step 1 - Ask for advice

Talk to an adviser at your school, college, centre, or careers office – they can talk you through alternative courses/subjects. If you’re applying independently, you’ll find everything you need to know about the Clearing process via UCAS.


STEP 2 - See what courses are available

Use the UCAS search tool to find courses – it's the only official vacancy list, so it’s the most up-to-date. If you can't find the course you're looking for:

  • Consider different subjects – you don't have to stick with your original idea. You could also look at joint honours courses, so you can study a mix of subjects.
  • Keep checking – unis update their course information regularly. You might not find the exact unis/colleges/courses you were looking for – some might be full, but some might get vacancies later on.
  • Check the course details – how is it structured each year? What modules make up each year? What are the entry requirements?


STEP 3 - Talk to any unis or colleges you're interested in

Before you add a Clearing choice in Track, you need to call the uni and give them your Clearing number (you can find this in Track), and Personal ID so they can look up your application.

  • Speak to them yourself - it's unlikely a university will offer you a place if a parent or friend calls on your behalf.
  • Ask if they'd accept you – they might reconsider you (maybe for the same course) even if you applied to them earlier in the year.
  • Get informal offers over the phone – maybe from a variety of universities and colleges – then decide which one you want to accept.
  • Ask about accommodation options – check out Chapter's private student accommodation options here - we have 11 locations across London zones 1 & 2 so there's sure to be one conveniently located for your new university.
  • Take a look around the campus – if you have the time, it's the best way to see what a university/college is like – most will be happy to meet you and show you around. Alternatively, see if they have a virtual tour or a virtual open day.


STEP 4 - Add your Clearing choice in Track

Only add a Clearing choice once you have permission from the university or college.

  • Click 'Add Clearing choice', and fill in the course details by the date the university/college gave you on the phone.
  • This counts as you definitely accepting the offer, so if they confirm, it'll show as an acceptance on your 'Choices' page in Track. 
  • You can only add one choice at a time, but if the university/college doesn't confirm your place, you'll be able to add another.

We hope you now feel more confident about going through Clearing and finding the perfect uni and course for you. If you now need to find accommodation in London, check out guide on finding the right area of London for you.

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