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Online clearing

Locating course vacancies via clearing takes time and can be frustrating - students have to search lists of nationally available courses, then phone the universities' clearing hotlines. Last year, 25 per cent of university places were secured in clearing by more than 50,000 students. For those whose grades are disappointing, consolation is on the way in the form ofnbsp; a free online clearing service to be launched on August 16, results day, by Ecctis, the Government's official database of British university course information (www.ecctis.co.uk).

The online service gives immediate information on course vacancies, continuously updated. Information is searchable by course and university and includes full admission contact details.

The Guardian provides a combined print and online service. Students can register to receive step-by-step results-day advice and email alerts of places. Its website is www.guardian.co.ukclearing0,10052,,00.html

The Independent's accessible online complete clearing guide (which supplements its print digest) offers an A-Z of degrees by subject. Visit http:advancement.independent.co.ukhigher

The Times and the Sunday Times share a clearing website at www.thetimes.co.ukclearing, which includes case studies and links on student life and finance, and both newspapers carry course vacancies.

The UCAS site at www.ucas.ac.uk will publish clearing vacancies daily, and its undergraduate course search facility allows students to choose by subject, institution or location.

BBC2 Ceefax has lists of all clearing vacancies, as does ITV's Teletext. BBC Online will have several clearing information sites which are updated daily. Radio 1's Student Essentials site at www.bbc.co.ukradio1essentialsstudent18clearing.shtml provides general advice and a telephone helpline on 0808 100 8000. The HE section of BBC Online's Just the Job at www.bbc.co.ukwalesjustthejobhomeintro.htm also has clearing information, including sections on where to get advice, tips for clearing success and alternatives to clearing.

A longer version of this review appears in this week's TES

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