Words by: indiekelly

Two students looking at their resultsAre you still searching for a university place in Clearing 2014?

Clearing stays open for several weeks after A-level results day: so if you're not yet sorted with a place on a course for this year, there's still time.

We asked TSR member indiekelly, who works in a university admissions department, for the inside angle on finding a place through Clearing. Here's what she had to say.

University Clearing is here to help

Clearing is the system put in place to help you out, not hinder you.

The good news for students is that you have the upper hand. Universities compete with one another during Clearing because they are bound by the government's Student Number Control (SNC).

This is a strict total number of students which universities are allowed to recruit. If a uni goes over this number it is fined harshly (around £12,000 for each student!).

If it under-recruits, its number allowance will decrease the following year (however this will change from 2015/2016) so it ideally want to hit its number bang on.

So, as you can see, it's in the universities' interests that Clearing runs and smoothly as possible and that their courses are filled.

Think before you make your Clearing phone calls

Now you've received your results, you might have already made your first university Clearing calls. But if you call unprepared and don't explain yourself well, you may well be just wasting your time.

Before you make a Clearing call, make sure you have your results and UCAS application in front of you. Mention all your relevant experience when on the phone: this might give you an advantage if your grades aren't quite what you want them to be.

Find out more:
Read more advice on making the Clearing call

Making contact during Clearing: there are options other than the phone

Phone lines are the most-advertised method of contact, but you can also get in touch using a web form. If you are local (or even if you aren't) pop down to the campus where you can get advice from staff such as student ambassadors face-to-face and take a tour.

Don't forget to check Facebook, Twitter and The Student Room: all good sources of updates on results day and the days that follow.

A student gets on his phone on results dayYou can also seek help from your college or sixth form. You'll have spent up to two years with them and they will know you a lot better than the person at the end of the phone.

Try to be patient and relaxed

Don't forget: the Clearing window actually lasts for several weeks after results day.

Universities have to play the whole process by ear; and because things change regularly you shouldn't be too disheartened if you've not been successful on the first day.

Any offers made during results day itself are only verbal as UCAS does not open its site for you to confirm anything until 5pm.

This means that a course may close as a uni has made offers to students expecting them to confirm. Then when they choose a different university instead, that place becomes available again so the course will open again.

In order to be competitive and meet their SNC, universities have been known to undercut other establishments and drop their entry requirements, so keep an eye on that too.

Take a minute to think about your future

Now's a good time to really think about all your options. Now you're in Clearing, your options open up once again. You might now decide to choose another course, rather than the one you originally picked.

It's also a good time to ask yourself: is going to uni this year really what you want? If you've been considering delaying your place and going on a gap year or going into employment, maybe this is the sign.

Good luck in Clearing!

Indiekelly is a psychology graduate who progressed from course support to faculty administration and now student discipline! With more than four years' higher-education experience, she knows the way unis work.