• Jacqueline Bond

Clearing up Clearing 2022 - How to get into the course you want



It's Results Day 2022 and UCAS has just announced your results.


Three options:


1) You got what you wanted for the place you wanted (or near enough) - Congrats. Do not pass further, unless you want to help your friends in groups 2 and 3 out.


2) You got the grades you wanted or even better (!) but for the place you didn't really want or for no places at all because they underestimated your results. Bittersweet congrats - you're now eligible for more options!! But you might have to go through CLEARING to do this, and it's not always the simplest process.


(...and maybe after then you can consider reapplying next year, but try this first.)


3) You didn't get the grades you wanted or any places you wanted - and you either have to go through Clearing, reapply next year, or give up entirely (I'd wait on this one).


For those of you who fell into options 2 or 3, unfortunately the university process is not over yet. And just for you 2 & 3-ers out there, this post is here to clear up something you're likely to have to face: the bizarrely-named "Clearing" - one of the most unrevealing names for one of the most rushed and complex processes in the whole application sequence.


First of all: Don't feel too bad. You must've heard, things aren't easy for you post-covid. This year has been the toughest year for university entrance in history. Three years of applicant types are piling into one: this year's, last year's who avoided another potential dreaded year of remote uni learning, and the smallest pool - but still significant - of double gap-year deferrers who just hoped that Covid might have backed down by now.


And there are just generally always more international applicants and population growth on top of that... so welcome to life. It's getting bigger and harder.


Clearing is the dreaded process that no one wants to have to go through.


UCAS states that:


"Clearing is how unis and colleges fill any places they still have on their courses.

From 5 July – 18 October, you can apply for a course using Clearing if you’re not already holding an offer from a university or college, and the course still has places.

You can use Clearing if:

  • you’re applying after 30 June

  • you didn’t receive any offers (or none you wanted to accept)

  • you didn’t meet the conditions of your offers

  • you've paid the multiple choice application fee of £26.50

  • you’ve declined your firm place using the ‘decline my place’ button in your application"

This is not entirely outlining the course of action you should follow. So I'll try better here.

HOW TO DO CLEARING


Clearing, more appropriately named Unclearing, is often a panicked and rushed process, beginning for some school leavers as soon as they discover their grades on results day. It also exists earlier for people who are applying after having received their grades a previous year. However - you should ideally start your research WELL BEFORE results day.


Principally it is for undergraduate applicants in categories 2-3 above who are looking for their best options to start that year, having not received the grades they needed and/or the places they wanted.

The process offers a pool of university places still available on UCAS but it is not so simple as selecting the best ones online as soon as you see them pop up.


Here is a rundown of the steps you must take:

  1. BEFORE THE DAY (the sooner, the better)

  • DO YOUR RESEARCH Find out the courses you want to do or would like to know more about. Contact the university.

If you know the courses and universities you are interested in, then check out the UCAS course details and university websites and register your interest. In fact, CALL them, EMAIL them! Or live chat them, DM on instagram. Whatever it is. See whether they think it is likely there will be places through clearing, ask about the course you want to do, and any other fun and/or boring stuff like clubs you want to do or student accommodation.


There is no harm in contacting admissions or the department now. They will likely find your interest appealing and remember you (even preference you!) compared to all the other students who might be ringing up on results day for the first time, sweating at the prospect of signing up to a course they just discovered 10 minutes ago.

  • DO NOT REJECT ANY OFFERS AT THIS STAGE Keep any offers that you have on the table.

It is hard to know how tricky it will be this year for places when competition is tougher than it has ever been. Universities have got harsher accepting unachieved conditional offers. Where previously they might have accepted students with slightly lower grades than their offer, now they might mean what they say, even when those grades are higher than they've ever been. In one sense, this could mean there are more offers potentially available through clearing, as fewer students will make the grade, but it also indicates how competitive the market is for places and they think there will be enough students who do.


This means, even on results day when you are calling up places you would prefer, KEEP any offers you might have received, and ONLY when they confirm a place for you, should you remove or ‘decline’ your unwanted offers to get a clearing number. The one clear exception to this is if you have utterly decided against doing what you applied for, in which case, of course remove it - but be sure you are sure!

  • ENSURE YOU KNOW ALL YOUR UCAS DETAILS

And that you have paid for a multiple choice application fee (should’ve cost £26.50) rather than the single application one - otherwise you cannot pass go.


2. THE DAY BEFORE

  • CONTACT UNIVERSITIES AGAIN

Rather annoyingly, some of the initial clearing places might have escaped you before you’ve even started. Gap yearers or deferred entry students with results already can grab them up from the day clearing opens on the 5th July 2022. Therefore it can also be worth calling up the day before to see what they have left. More places will then open up on results day because of people declining or not meeting their offers.


The additional benefit of calling in just before results day is that they might have a better number or more effective method for you to contact them on for the day, as well as some advice for you! Lines can get very busy on the day so it’s good to know which is the best way to reach them.


  • PREPARE YOURSELF

Have all the university contact details ready (I'll just give you the list I found though I provide no guarantees for these working) and your UCAS details all sorted for logging in.


3. ON RESULTS DAY - 18th August 2022

  • BE UP AND READY BY 8AM

Check your results from 8am - I’d try and be prepared by this point to make some important phone calls! If your grades or offers haven’t updated by around 9am then it might be worth checking with UCAS or the university you're waiting on to see if there’s a fault or hold up for any reason.


If you didn’t make the grade and you wanted one of those offers - then you should call up the university to see if they will still accept you with your current grades, or else onto a similar course you might like.


If you need to go through clearing because you want better choices or need to find other options, then without further ado, here's what to do:


  • CLEARING - FOLLOW THESE STEPS

  1. Check your offers on UCAS!! Good luck. Now keep your grades and personal details at hand.

  2. Do NOT decline any offers you might have been accepted on yet, even if they aren't your preferences UNLESS you are absolutely sure you don’t want to go.

  3. If you do not have any confirmed offers then you will be issued with a clearing number.

  4. Call the university departments / admissions you like in order of your preference, to see if they accept you with the grades you have.

  5. If they accept you, they will ask for your clearing number to put into their systems.

  6. If you are happy with this decision, then decline any places you have to release yourself for clearing on the system, or enter it straight away if you had it already and you’re done!

  7. If you just received a clearing number, then give this to the university (perhaps you are still on the phone to them or they have told you how to best contact them again) and enter your choice that they accepted, and now you’re done!

WELL DONE! If that all worked smoothly then you’re in. It's certainly not the most intuitive of processes, but it's also possible to understand. If there's any problems, then you might need to just call the universities and UCAS again until any issues are fixed.


The main issues reported on the day are : Phone lines being constantly busy and the best courses being snapped up quickly. So, be quick on your mark, and there is a huge benefit in doing your research and contacting them prior to the day.


The main thing is keep as level-headed as you can, prepare as much as you can in advance and good luck! Remember it is not compulsory to study at university this year, you can always go on a gap year, gain some work experience or reconsider your options. However, I hope this article might put you in a better position to get the best offer possible for you this year.

So, like Scout's Honour (or something I heard once): Hope for the best, Prepare for the worst. And maybe you can also prepare to have the best after that.





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