The Clearing Process – Student FAQs

by Ed Firmin

Posted on Wednesday, August 17th, 2016 at 17:19

The Clearing Process – Student FAQs

If you find yourself going through clearing this summer – don’t panic. You’re not alone, and there are several options open to you. We’ve put together some useful information to help put your mind at rest if you don’t quite get the grades you were hoping for.

What is clearing?

Every year there will be spaces on various courses at colleges and universities across the country that need filling before the new academic year begins. If you find you haven’t been offered any places at university – or you have declined any offers you have had – this is the time to find an alternative course that is suitable for you.

When can I book onto a course? 

Clearing is available from July to September each year. If you know your exam results earlier on in the year, you can use the clearing service from July. Alternatively, if your offers were dependent on you achieving a slightly higher grade than you managed, you can go through clearing from Results Day (18th August 2016). From this point on, courses with vacancies will be listed – and continually updated – on the UCAS website. Keep looking if you don’t find what you’re looking for straight away. If you sign up to the clearing programme, universities and colleges will be able to contact you from Results Day through to 9th September 2016.

How do I choose the best course for me?

Before you begin your search, try speaking to a careers adviser at your school or college. They will be happy to talk you through alternative courses. Be flexible – explore different subjects and if necessary, consider different locations. Starting university can be a daunting prospect, but it provides a great opportunity to meet new people and learn more about what you want from life, and ultimately, your career. By going through clearing, you may find you’re far happier on a course which is more challenging than your first choice. Or that you thrive at a university which is further away from home than you first anticipated. Don’t be afraid to approach an institution that you previously applied to before clearing. Situations do change and they might be willing to reconsider you – either on the same course or an alternative course – if they have a place that needs filling at the last minute.

How can I prepare?

Before you speak to any prospective college or university, write down some questions to ask them. For example, do they have accommodation available, either on campus or nearby?* Will they need to see your examination certificates before (or after) making a decision to accept you? It is also important to tell them why you are keen to attend their institution. If you come across as indifferent, they are far more likely to reject your application. Also, make sure you are available for interviews – don’t book any holidays during the clearing period.

How do I make my final decision?

If it looks as though your chosen university might accept you on a course, be sure to visit the campus beforehand, and ask the admissions team for a tour of the faculty buildings, student union, halls of residence and so on. Become familiar with the surroundings before you decide to accept.

Remember, if you don’t quite make the grade but are flexible on courses, accommodation and locations, there is no reason you can’t embark on a happy and successful journey through university.

*If you need help with student accommodation in the Canterbury area, visit

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