10 myths and truths about Clearing

Christel Deskins

Clearing – Alec Doherty A-level results day is stressful enough this year as a result of the pandemic, so having a basic understanding of the university Clearing process in advance can be a very useful tool to have.   Separate fact from fiction with our helpful UCAS Clearing myth-buster.  MYTH: Clearing opens […]

Clearing - Alec Doherty
Clearing – Alec Doherty

A-level results day is stressful enough this year as a result of the pandemic, so having a basic understanding of the university Clearing process in advance can be a very useful tool to have.  

Separate fact from fiction with our helpful UCAS Clearing myth-buster. 

MYTH: Clearing opens on A-level-results day

The 2020 Clearing process was available for use from July 6. If you had already received your exam results, but didn’t have any university offers, you could have used Clearing from this date onwards. IB results were published on July 6, for instance, while Scottish Qualifications Authority results came out on August 4. “The general rule is that, when you’ve got your results, you can use Clearing,” say UCAS. Not all course spaces were available at this earlier stage, though, so you haven’t missed out.

MYTH: Russell Group universities don’t use Clearing

They most certainly do. The Russell Group represents 24 world-class, research-intensive universities – and at least 16 of them have had at least one course available through Clearing this year. Some unis announce whether they had places available when Clearing opened at the beginning of July, while others wait until Results Day (August 13). “It’s very fluid and the UCAS website always has the most up-to-date list of available courses,” say UCAS.

MYTH: If you use Clearing, you can’t apply for any subject – only the one you originally applied for

“Even if you applied for marine biology but you’ve now realised that food science is your calling, there’s nothing to stop you from contacting universities to ask for a place,” say UCAS.

It’s important to note, however, you’re only eligible for Clearing if you have no offers. If you get your grades but change your mind about your course, you can decline your place online and enter Clearing. If you’ve had conditional offers but miss your grades and decide to study something else, you do this through Clearing, too.

MYTH: The most popular subjects are never available

It used to be unheard of for oversubscribed courses like medicine to be on offer through Clearing, but this has changed. 1,015 applicants were accepted onto Medicine and Dentistry courses last year – keep a close eye on Clearing vacancies and you may get lucky. St George’s, University of London, has offered medicine places through Clearing for the past four years, and will be offering a number in 2020, too.

TRUTH: If you don’t want your firm choice any more, you can find an alternative

Anyone can use Clearing if they want to. If you no longer want your firm choice after receiving an unconditional offer, you can decline it in Track and enter Clearing. Get advice from teachers, parents and unis to make an informed decision.

MYTH: You can’t go back to universities that rejected you

Clearing allows you to apply to any university with vacancies, even if they rejected you the first time round. If you spot a course you like and meet the entry requirements, talk to them.

MYTH: Clearing is for people with low grades

“Some students have declined their offers, others might not have received any – perhaps if they applied for particularly competitive courses,” say UCAS. ” Some applied after June 30 and automatically entered Clearing.”

TRUTH: Oxford and Cambridge never offer places through Clearing

It’s true that Oxford and Cambridge don’t offer places through Clearing. However, Cambridge participated in the UCAS Adjustment process for the first time in 2019, giving young people from under-represented backgrounds, who were interviewed but got turned down, a second chance to secure a place.

The Adjustment process allows anyone who exceeds the grade requirements of their firm offer to swap to another university. This year, Cambridge colleges with available places post-exam results will go into Adjustment. This could mean a few places are available, but sadly it can mean none are too.

MYTH: You can start clearing right away, and the best places get snapped up in minutes

You can’t log on at midnight to see if you’ve been accepted, as Track won’t update until 8am. You also can’t add a Clearing choice right away – that opens at 3pm on the day to allow you time to think about your options and seek advice from  parents, teachers, friends or UCAS.

Students do need to act quickly, though, as places don’t hang around. Vacancies update constantly throughout Clearing as universities open and close courses. “In 2019, almost 55 per cent of those who would be accepted in Clearing had their place confirmed within three working days of A-level-results day,” say UCAS.

TRUTH: If you change your mind and want to swap your firm and insurance choices after receiving your A-level results, you can

If you get the grades for your firm choice but want to opt for your insurance choice instead, you MUST go through Clearing. It’s vitally important to contact your insurance choice first and check that they can accept you through Clearing, though – you can then decline your Firm choice and use Clearing.

 Join the conversation: Wondering how the pandemic affect your university degree? Join our experts for a live video Q&A on 11 August

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