A-level results: what is clearing?

For A-level students, clearing can offer a crucial opportunity to secure a university place. But how does it work?

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What is clearing?

Clearing plus is the process through which universities and colleges fill any spaces they have on their courses.

Students who have either missed the late application deadline, not been granted a place on their chosen course or decided to decline their offers will all be entered into clearing.

How does it work?

Clearing operates between July and October and, during this time, students may use Ucas’ search tool to find courses still available.

Ucas advises that students contact universities directly and speak with them for additional information about the course (especially if they decide to opt to study a different subject than originally applied for) and to see if the admissions team will accept them before officially changing anything on their application form.

Once a university has indicated that a place is available and that they will make an offer to a student, new courses can be added to the application. From here it is down to the university to confirm the place rather than a student to decline or accept.

In some cases, come results day, students may exceed expectations and the requirements of their chosen course, and therefore decide to consider other universities or courses with higher, more competitive entry requirements.

Many places on these courses will have been filled already, but it is possible that other students will have unfortunately fallen short of the entry requirements, meaning that spaces become available. 

If a student does better than expected, then they can enter something called 'Adjustment'. This means they can retain their firm choice, but browse other options. However, it is time sensitive, and students must use the Ucas system to access this process.

Want to know about clearing this year?

Ucas has a list of helpful advice and answers to FAQs on their website. Additionally, for further information on key dates for 2020, take a look at the Tes Guide to Clearing 2020.

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