Clearing advice: ABB for 2013

Times Higher Education has put together a guide for students unsure of how new government policy might affect their university choice this results day.

This is the second year that clearing is taking place for those going to university under the higher tuition fees regime.

While tuition fees remain the same as last year - up to pound;9,000 - the rules on how many students universities are allowed to recruit have changed slightly.

In what way?

In the past few years universities have had limits on the number of undergraduates they can recruit. If they go over this limit they are fined.

This year, this restriction is lifted for students with A-level grades of an A and two Bs or above. Last year, students gaining AAB or above were exempt from the restrictions.

It means that universities can recruit as many students with these grades as they want. As a result, many highly selective universities that don't normally enter clearing may do so this year to boost their intake.

How will it be organised?

Many of those involved in university admissions, including admissions officers themselves, are still unsure on how clearing will pan out this year.

Last year, several highly selective universities withdrew from clearing early when it emerged there were relatively few AAB students available in the system.

That was because the number of students gaining AAB was lower than expected after fewer gained top marks than in previous years. This could happen again.

However, the expected pool of ABB+ students - 115,000 - will be larger than last year's predicted 85,000 AAB+ students, so many more universities might look to offer students a place if they achieve these grades.

How will that affect me?

It won't affect you if you achieve your predicted grades and no higher. Your university offer will simply be confirmed and you will go to the university of your choice.

But the situation may be quite different for those predicted to gain ABB and then missing those grades, or those gaining ABB or above when they were predicted lower grades.

What if I was predicted lower grades but end up with ABB or above?

Your first choice of university will, of course, still accept you, but the better grades will put you in the sought-after market for ABB students.

Other universities, perhaps with better reputations in that course, will want to try to recruit you through clearing and it may be worth shopping around before accepting your original choice.

And what if I was predicted ABB or above and get lower grades?

It is possible that your original choice of university may decide it cannot confirm your offer, as you will now fall into the pool of students where numbers are tightly restricted.

You may have more luck than last year's students in gaining a place as there is more flexibility for universities to go above their recruitment limit this year.

However, this may not be possible and if your university fails to confirm your offer you may wish to consider using clearing to find a place at a different university that can offer you a place at the lower grades.

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