If you have completed your A-levels this summer, A-level results day will be here sooner than you think. For those lucky enough to have secured an unconditional offer to a university on a course that you’re happy with, this day might creep up on you without you even noticing.
However, if you feel uncertain about your university choices or think you may not have met the required grades, you might be counting down the days in total dread.
Take a deep breath; everything will be OK.
Fortunately, not getting your place doesn’t mean you can’t go to university this year. The Clearing process can match you to a university place yet to be filled, and there are plenty of Clearing places every year at many universities across the country.
If you’re confused or uncertain how the process will work on the big day, here’s our very own survival guide to Clearing:
What Happens if You Don’t Get Your Conditional Offer?
A conditional offer specifies the grades that a university requires you to meet for confirmation of your place. For example, a course may require the grades ABB in your A-levels, or they may want at least a B in a specific subject. This often means waiting until results day to see if your results have met this condition. If you don’t meet your conditional offer, these could be the following steps:
You May Get Accepted Anyway
Some universities may give you some leeway if you just missed out by one grade. This can depend on many things, such as if the university in question has fewer applicants than expected, so they lower the grade boundaries required.
You Get Accepted to Your Insurance Place
Your insurance place is the university you chose as your second choice. This may be an unconditional or conditional offer. If it’s conditional, you will still need to meet the conditions for the place to be confirmed. Upon being rejected by your firm choice, if you get accepted onto your insurance, this will be confirmed on results day.
The University May Offer an Alternative Course
Your firm place may not have gone through, but the university may offer you a place on a similar, alternative course if they still have spaces available. You can decide whether to accept or reject this.
You Go Into Clearing
If you still want to go to university this year but get rejected from (or don’t want to accept) your firm or insurance place, you can go through Clearing to find a university that will take you.
Do All Universities Offer Clearing Places?
University Clearing places vary annually based on the number of applicants a university gets and whether they can accept more students. There are different ways to find out about Clearing places before results day – and it’s a good idea to note a few down as alternatives to save you time on results day.
First, you can use the UCAS Search Tool to search for specific institutions or courses that have places available. Alternatively, you can contact universities directly to ask about Clearing places. Here’s what you need to know about Clearing places at Lancaster and Reading.
Do Any Universities Not Have Clearing Places?
While most universities will participate in Clearing, some of the more competitive universities, such as Cambridge and Oxford, don’t.
Similarly, some competitive courses like Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary Science are unlikely to have Clearing places, as they are already oversubscribed.
Suppose you have incredibly impressive grades and a wealth of extracurricular activities under your belt. In that case, it could be worth contacting the universities directly if you think you might be accepted, but don’t be too disheartened if they tell you to try again next year.
Changing University Course After Accepting Offer
If results day rolls around and you’ve had a sudden change of heart about studying at your confirmed university or course, despite getting the grades required, you can still go into Clearing to find an alternative place.
UCAS now allows students to release themselves into Clearing if they have a change of heart about their university or the course they want to study. Simply log into the UCAS Hub and choose the “Decline Your Place” button. Follow the steps, and you can release yourself into Clearing and select the option you want from the Clearing lists.
As this process declines your place at your conditional or firm university, you must be 100% sure you no longer want the place, as it will be lost to you as soon as you complete it. There is no guarantee that your place will still be there for you if you change your mind after looking through the Clearing lists. It’s a good idea to get verbal confirmation from a university of a Clearing offer before doing this.
How To Apply Through Clearing?
As mentioned, you will use the UCAS Search Tool to find universities that still have Clearing options. When you’ve found courses you’re interested in, you need to call those institutions and give them your Clearing number (from Hub) and Personal ID so they can find your application. Ask if they would accept you on the course you’re interested in and get a formal offer over the phone. If possible, try to take a look around their campus or see if your course director would be happy to meet you or talk to you directly.
Once you’ve had your offer, you can add your Clearing choice through Hub. That institution should then confirm, and that confirmation is you accepting the offer. You can still be re-released into Clearing again if you change your mind.
If You Have to Call UCAS…
Sometimes, despite all the research and preparation, nothing can prepare you for how you react to seeing that you haven’t got the grades you need or that you’ve had a change of heart about your firm place. In this case, you may end up phoning the UCAS helpline on results day.
The UCAS phones will be incredibly busy on results day. So, to get the information you need as quickly as possible, take note of the following:
- Have your Personal ID ready
Before the person on the phone can do anything to help you, they will ask you for your UCAS Personal ID – this is so they can access your application. They will also ask a couple of questions to confirm your identity, such as your birthday or address before they can proceed. Your ID is displayed on every email that UCAS has sent you.
- Only a nominated person can call on your behalf
When you signed up to UCAS, you may have appointed a person to contact UCAS on your behalf, such as your mum or dad. When you call UCAS, the person on the phone will confirm who they’re speaking to, and if they’re not talking to you or your nominated person, they will not be able to help. It’s best to call them yourself and have your friend or sibling close by for support – not calling on your behalf.
- If UCAS don’t have your results, you need to call your college/sixth form
If your university place is unconfirmed because the university doesn’t have your grades yet, it’s your college/sixth form you need to call. UCAS doesn’t gather results from colleges and sixth forms. UCAS is simply the middleman between the colleges/sixth forms and universities; if your college hasn’t sent your results through to UCAS, they’re the ones you should be contacting to find out what’s going on.
What Happens After Clearing?
Once you’ve secured your place in Clearing, you can relax! But not for too long as you’ll need to start thinking about student accommodation, letting student finance know about your change of institution, and familiarising yourself with your new university.
You should get confirmation from your university about student accommodation availability, many keep accommodation reserved for clearing students. However, this is not always the case, and sometimes you may need to look at alternative options such as private student houses or student flats.
In which case, CityBlock have you covered for Lancaster and Reading. We have student accommodation in Reading and Lancaster student accommodation available for the next academic year and for your future years. Contact us today to learn more about our incredible range of available rooms.
From everyone here at CityBlock, we wish you the very best of luck for results day.