How does Clearing work?

Two female Stirling students look at a mobile phone

Clearing is a part of the UCAS application process that helps to match applicants with UK university places that haven’t been filled yet. If you haven’t yet secured a place on a an undergraduate course for 2020 then you can still land a place through the Clearing process.

Clearing is open from 6 July until 20 October, and it’s the perfect way to secure a uni place if your results weren’t quite what you were hoping for.

But how does university Clearing work?

We’ve compiled this quick UCAS Clearing guide to ensure you’ve got all the information you need to successfully navigate the process and secure your place at uni this year.

Who can apply through Clearing?

Ok, first thing’s first: who can apply through Clearing? You’ll typically be eligible to use Clearing if you:

  • Apply to university after 30 June
  • Have applied but aren’t holding any offers
  • Declined the offers you did receive
  • Didn’t meet the criteria of your conditional offers

If you fit into one of these categories, that means you should be able to apply for a last-minute place through Clearing.

How Clearing works

Clearing opens on 6 July 2020. Many universities will publish a list of their available course places online at the beginning of the summer. If you’ve already obtained the necessary qualifications, you can start shopping around and secure your place immediately.

However, the vast majority of Clearing students will have to wait until they find out about their results before applying for a new course. But even if you do need to wait for your results in August, you should shop around for alternative options as soon as Clearing opens in July.

First, you should search for Clearing vacancies either through UCAS or on various university websites. Most vacancies will be published at the end of June or in early July, and so you’ve got to keep your eyes peeled and bookmark potential courses early.

Clearing Plus – New for 2020

UCAS has launched a new service called Clearing Plus. UCAS will match you to courses you may be interested in by using what they know about you from your application, and what universities and colleges are looking for in a student. Find out more about UCAS Clearing Plus.

Call the university or college you’re interested in

After you’ve found a course you’re interested in, call the uni in question to make sure there are still spaces available and that you meet the entry requirements. Again, you might need to wait until Results Day before you know whether you’ve met the entry criteria, but it doesn’t hurt to phone in advance in order to discuss your options.

If you’re phoning on Results Day, make sure you have your UCAS Personal ID and results at hand so that you can secure an offer on the phone immediately. You’ll typically be asked about your situation and your qualifications, which course you’re interested in and why you’d like to study it.

Assuming you meet the entry requirements of your chosen course, that uni will be able to give you a verbal offer. At Stirling, we’ll send you a confirmation email the same day we give you a verbal offer, so check your inbox.

Accepting your Clearing offer

After that, you need to log onto UCAS Track and add that course as your Clearing choice. You’ll have 24 hours to confirm your offer through UCAS Track before the offer expires. When you sign into Track, you should see this as an option under the ‘Next Steps’ section as long as you’re eligible for Clearing.

That’s basically it – although there are a few important notes you must bear in mind.

First and foremost, be aware that you can only apply for one course at a time through Clearing. After selecting a course, you can’t add another unless you’ve been unsuccessful with the first choice. Also, be sure to add the precise course on Track that you’ve been given a verbal offer for.

If you only applied for one choice in your original UCAS application, it’s also important to bear in mind that you’ll need to pay an extra £5 in 2020 to apply through Clearing.

One final point: Conservatoires don’t use Clearing to fill vacancies, and so you’ll need to search UCAS or get in touch with the conservatoire you’re thinking about to find out if there are places available.

Haven’t yet applied for 2020 entry?

If you missed the UCAS deadline of 30 June and have not yet applied for 2020 entry, the UCAS Clearing process works a little bit differently.

First, you’ll need to register with UCAS and make an application. You can only add a Clearing choice onto your application after your application has been submitted.

After submitting your application, UCAS will send you a welcome email with information about Track and adding your Clearing choice.

From there, all you’ve got to do is follow the steps we’ve already outlined above: find the course you’d like to do, get in touch with a uni for your offer and then confirm your Clearing choice on Track. It’s really that simple.

Ready to learn more?

We’ve got loads of Clearing advice resources including a guide to how Clearing works, Frequently Asked Questions, top tips for Clearing and more.

You can also call us on +44 (0) 1786 467 044 or email to ask any questions about Clearing.

See our Clearing Advice for teachers and advisers or parents and carers.

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