What is University Clearing?

University Clearing is a process by which universities fill the remaining places on their academic courses. This process is especially for students who haven’t met the entry requirements for their first choice of degree or those who wish to apply to a different university after the application deadline date.

What is University Clearing?

Most UK universities run Clearing systems which are designed to match suitable applicants to empty university places. Thousands of university placements are secured this way each year, and contrary to popular belief, it isn’t only the undesirable courses that become available through Clearing. 

As we already covered, there are several reasons why places may not be filled during the initial application process, meaning that even some of the most desirable courses will have vacancies to fill via Clearing. In 2022, 50,000 students found their university place via the Clearing system.

Who Can Use the University Clearing System?

University Clearing is available to candidates who: 

  • Have not received offers from a UK university 
  • Have not accepted any offers received 
  • Have missed the deadline for accepting offers 
  • Are applying to UK university courses after the cut-off date of the 30th of June
  • Haven’t obtained the grades necessary for their offers
  • Have had a change of circumstance and cannot accept their original offers

Whichever category you fall into, it will be beneficial to complete your Clearing search as soon as possible. University Clearing placements can fill up quickly, and contacting universities ahead of other candidates will give you the best chance of finding the best course for your specific education and career goals. Of course, you will also need to do ample research into each university and degree and avoid making your applications on a whim. 

Undertaking a degree is never something to take lightly. However, candidates making applications via Clearing must also be realistic and flexible in their search; always be open to fantastic opportunities, even if they don’t meet all the criteria for your dream placement.

UCAS Clearing Plus

As some prospective students find Clearing a daunting and overwhelming process due to the sheer number of options, UCAS designed their Clearing Plus Tool to help candidates find the perfect course and aid universities in finding suitable students. 

With the Clearing Plus Tool, UCAS will recommend courses to candidates based on UK universities of interest and information submitted to the UCAS website, such as grades and other qualifications. If you are matched with a suitable degree, and you express an interest, the university will contact you to double-check you meet the entry requirements and other suitability criteria. 

Clearing Plus is free; however, it is only available if you were unsuccessful with your original course application or if you are a first-time applicant for Clearing placements. Your suitable matches can be found on the View Your Matches page on the UCAS Hub. 

UCAS will make recommendations based on what universities are looking for in their candidates and on historical data of the placements students with a similar background accepted after the Clearing process. 

Initially, you will be matched with all available Clearing courses; after assessing your suitability for the remaining courses, the UCAS Clearing Plus Tool will refine your options based on your eligibility criteria.

5 Tips for Contacting Universities During Clearing

Just because the conversations you will have with the university admissions team during Clearing will be informal, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a benefit in being prepared as possible, knowing what to expect from the process, and understanding how to make the best impression. 

1. Call, Don't Email

During Clearing, the admissions team can receive hundreds of emails each day. If you have found a Clearing course you are serious about obtaining, always engage with them via telephone, where possible. 

2. Keep Your Personal Clearing Number and UCAS ID to Hand 

Before asking you for your grades and other qualifications, the admissions team will always ask for your Clearing number and UCAS ID first. Always keep these to hand to ensure the phone call runs as smoothly as possible and you’re not flustered through lack of preparation. You will also need to know the code of the courses you are applying to. 

3. Note Down Any Important Details During the Call 

While it is unlikely that you will experience any miscommunications during your phone call, always jot down the name of the person you spoke to and any important details exchanged during your informal interview. 

4. Remember That Nothing is Final Until You Accept An Offer 

For students making numerous Clearing applications, having multiple offers on the table isn’t uncommon. Remember that you are not obligated to accept all offers. Most UK universities will give you a period for you to accept the offer; it is more than acceptable to keep exploring your options and enquiring about other Clearing degrees. 

5. Research the University Before Contacting the Admissions Team 

Admissions teams want to know that you are making an informed decision and haven’t contacted them as a last resort. Always prepare a few reasons why you want to study at that university; even if you are downbeat about going through the Clearing process, don’t let that show when speaking to them on the phone. Be as confident about why that university is the right choice for you as you are about why you are the right choice for the university.