Clearing: be prepared, Ucas urges students

One in 10 students will find a place at university through clearing – but it is best to be prepared before results day, university admissions service Ucas has said.

Courses with vacancies will be online from 6pm on Wednesday 12 August: the evening before A-level results day.

From 8am on Thursday, candidates will be able to log on to the Ucas Track service. While this won’t give them their A-level results, it will allow them to see whether their university place has been confirmed. If it hasn’t, then candidates will be told that they are eligible to use clearing – the system that matches unplaced applicants with suitable vacancies.

About 30 per cent of students each year are not accepted into their first choice of university. Some two-thirds of these still secure a university place in the days after A-level results have been published: roughly half take up their insurance university choice and half go through clearing.

Last year, of the 512,000 people who secured a higher education place through Ucas, 61,300 were accepted through clearing.

However, Ucas stresses that it is vital to act quickly. Approximately half of students using clearing will have secured a place at university by the Monday after results day.

Mary Curnock Cook, chief executive of Ucas, also emphasised the importance of advance preparations. Students who suspected that they might not get the necessary grades for their chosen course should read up about clearing in advance, she said.

“Universities and colleges will want to talk to you – but remember to prepare and do your research before discussing your options with them,” she added.

She also makes a point of reminding students who fail to find a place through clearing that this need not be the death of their university hopes. About half of 18-year-olds who do not have a place at university apply again the next year. Approximately 90 per cent of them are successful second time around.

The Department for Education runs an exam results helpline, staffed by careers advisers who can help students to consider the options open to them. The helpline can be reached on: 0808 100 8000.

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