How to Navigate Clearing 2023

What is Clearing?

Clearing is a way for universities to fill their remaining places, once A-level exam results have been published. It is also a way for you to search for and grab a place on the course of your choice. Clearing begins on 5 July, although most applicants use clearing from 17 August – results day. You have until 17 October to secure a place in the clearing process.

Who should use Clearing?

Clearing can be used by anyone: from someone who didn’t receive or accept any offers, to someone who hasn’t applied to any universities yet, or someone who didn’t meet the conditions of their offer. You can also use Clearing if you wish to change course or university, so long as you’ve declined your firm place. This may apply if you get higher grades that you were expecting – so you may wish to upgrade to a ‘better’ university. A lot of universities have places available in Clearing, even highly ranked universities. Over 70,000 students were accepted through Clearing last year. It is also a chance to discuss your application directly with the universities.

How to prepare for Clearing

Universities start listing their vacancies on UCAS from 5 July, so you can start researching which courses you might be interested in. The listing will be updated regularly until mid-September. Make sure you have all the documents that will be needed on the calls to universities, such as your UCAS number, your Clearing number and your grades. We recommend having a pen and paper to note down anything you might be told that’s important. Think about what you might say on the phone in case you are given an impromptu mini-interview. You should also re-read your personal statement as universities will have access to it. It’s advisable to have a back-up plan – for example a list of courses with lower entry requirements.

How to use Clearing on the day

On 10 August, check your results as early as possible and look at the UCAS Track site as, if you are eligible for Clearing, it will say so and allocate you your Clearing number. You will need this number, so keep it safe. Start calling the universities you are interested in through their Clearing lines and speak with them about the course you’re interested in. Universities will be busy so you might have to wait: be patient. Some universities will ask you to take part in a mini-interview, others may only request your grades and make a decision based on these. Ask any questions you might have. If you wish to reserve university accommodation, make sure you enquire about the Clearing applicants accommodation policy. The universities will give you an answer right away.  You will have 24 hours to accept or decline the place. In the meantime, you can call other universities. Remember to confirm your place on UCAS Track once you’re happy with your offer.

Is there a limited number of universities you can apply to?

No, you can call and apply to as many universities as you wish. There is no limit to the amount of offers you can receive. But remember that you can only add one Clearing choice on Track so make sure you’re happy with the offer before adding it. Do not add a choice on Track before being given a verbal offer, as they might reject your application.

How to make your decision

Clearing can feel hectic and stressful. But don’t feel under pressure to take the first verbal offer you’re given – unless you know it’s the one you want. Research the course you’ve been offered a place on, the university and imagine yourself studying and living there. Is this what you really want? If not, is there any other course or university on the Clearing list that might appeal to you more? It’s worth exploring all other options instead of rushing. Universities will keep their offer open to you until you decline or accept. They will also organise open days for Clearing applicants that have been offered a place, so try to make the open day dates.  

What next?

Once you’re happy with an offer and you’ve accepted it, you need to look for accommodation. Check what you can afford and get housing advice from your university if you do not get a place in a student accommodation. It’s worth joining housing-related groups at your university, or a Fresher’s group on Facebook. Sometimes students try to sell back their lease on student accommodation and you may be able to buy one of these leases.  

A-level results day can be stressful, especially if you don’t receive the grades you’ve been hoping for. But being prepared and taking a calm and measured approach to Clearing will work to your advantage. There are great opportunities on Clearing and there is a good chance that you will secure a place at a high-ranking university.  

We have many years’ experience supporting students with the Clearing process. For expert help, please contact us.