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'Clearing Plus' FAQ

'Clearing Plus' FAQ

New for 2020, UCAS has introduced 'Clearing Plus'. This is a service designed to supplement Clearing by providing a list of courses matched via an algorithm to each student. Clearing Plus also allows students to let universities know that they are interested in a particular course. Clearing will go live on Monday 6th July - Clearing Plus runs throughout this this whole period.

Important: Clearing Plus is an option, and not the only route to apply through Clearing - the normal Clearing course search is still available and should also be used. Students are not encouraged to solely rely on Clearing Plus. Clearing Plus works most effectively when a student has said they are interested and immediately phones the university. This way, the university can see your full application immediately and can make a decision quickly.

Need more information about Clearing? Click here to see our main Clearing, Adjustment and Self-Release FAQ!

Have a question that isn't answered here? Post in the thread and our UCAS trained Clearing and Applications Advisers will do their best to help!

What is Clearing Plus and how does it work?

The whole purpose of Clearing Plus is just to offer other options as a supplement to main Clearing. UCAS hope that Clearing Plus will take a little stress away from students who are already in a heightened situation. We expect 30,000 courses total in Clearing which is a lot for students to manage, so this aims to give a more rational starting point. Clearing Plus replaces the Direct Contact Service which was used for the last 4 years.

Clearing Plus essentially takes all courses and clusters them based on similarity (based on a lot of factors) with the hope that this will make groups of appropriate courses to match students to. The key benefit of Clearing Plus is that it might suggest similar but slightly different courses that a student may not have considered.

Students will have a list of ‘matched courses’ and can then let universities know that they are interested. Universities that pay £2k for an enhanced profile will have their logo displayed and a tagline under the university name. Other universities will just have the university name.

What does Clearing Plus look like?
Here is a screenshot of the type of thing you will see when you enter Clearing Plus:

Will all universities be using Clearing Plus?

If an applicant expresses an interest through Clearing Plus, UCAS would hope all universities using Clearing Plus would provide a response either way, however universities are not obligated to use Clearing Plus or to respond to applicants. While all universities have access to Clearing Plus, there are paid options which give them more features.

Why do some universities have a logo/picture and others don't?

UCAS offers an 'enhanced profile' package for universities. This is a paid feature and is designed to help them stand out more in the listings.

Just because a university doesn't have this doesn't mean they aren't using Clearing Plus.

Will there be courses in Clearing Plus that are not available on the normal UCAS Clearing listings and vice versa?
Yes there might be - there may be courses unis don’t want everyone to see, just certain students that meet specific criteria they have set. It is recommended to use a combination of Clearing Plus and the ordinary UCAS Clearing course search

Are universities more likely to place students who contact them directly than through Clearing Plus?
The short answer is probably, yes. If someone is really really interested in a vacancy then it is possibly best to use the university's own contact method, particularly if this is a high demand course which will fill up quickly.

Who can use Clearing Plus?

Clearing Plus is open to any unplaced applicant (i.e. those not holding an offer). There is no sign up - this is automatically available and there is no need to opt-in. You will see the following 'see matches' button on your UCAS Track if you are eligible for Clearing Plus:

Screenshot 2020-06-20 at 11.11.49.png

Can students use Clearing Plus if they have applied directly to Clearing?
Yes - there will be less information about them available to make matches but Clearing Plus can still be used. Matches may be less relevant but will still be present. To be eligible for Clearing students need to have paid the full application fee (£25).

What about international applicants?
It is also available to international students, however the qualifications in clearing plus are generally UK ones - the matches therefore might not be so relevant. At the moment, if a university sets requirements in terms of UK qualifications, it is not possible to match that course to international applicants. This is a limitation of the service because it is so new. If you are an international applicant, it may be best to use the traditional UCAS Clearing vacancy search and/or contact universities directly.

What if I don't have my results yet?
Students who don't yet have confirmed results for whatever reason will be placed into a 'cluster'. They will still be shown matches but these might not be so relevant. Once results have been confirmed, the match relevance will improve.

How do Clearing Plus matches work?

Every student is matched to courses based on their profile (subjects included in their UCAS application) and criteria set by universities. UCAS will take into consideration previous choices, grades, and qualification subjects when matching students to courses, and the profiles of previous students accepted onto the course.

In addition to this, universities can set their own criteria (see the next point).

Can universities decide who their course is shown to?
Universities can set their own, confidential criteria to decide what types of students their course is shown to. This is entirely at the discretion of universities however is likely to include qualification type and grades achieved. POLAR scores (a measure of how likely students in a particular geographic area are to access higher education) and SIMD scores (a measure of geographical deprivation) are also options for universities to use, to help with widening participation. Universities can also filter by international applicants, home applicants or all applicants.

The benefit of this to universities is that they can look at their current cohort and can then target their matches through Clearing Plus to help meet their objectives - for example, if they are looking to meet their widening participation targets, they might decide to only show their courses to students with lower POLAR and SIMD scores.

Universities can change their criteria at any point in time.

What happens if the university or course I want isn't matched to me?
For applicants, the university criteria (described above) means that although you may not see a course in your matches, you may just not be in the specific group that the university is looking to target. It is still worth checking the main UCAS Clearing vacancies and contacting the university.

Can you be matched to a university you were rejected from previously?
Applicants that a university may have previously rejected for a course (based on interview/portfolio/subject mix/poor reference etc. or possibly predicted grades) can be matched to the same course they were rejected for. There is no way for a university to opt to exclude previously rejected applicants.

If you have been matched to a course which you have already been rejected from, it is unfortunately due to UCAS algorithm and the limitations of this. It does not mean the university will reconsider you.

Is there a limit to the number of matches a student might get?

Every student will have some matches, although this is likely to be more limited for niche subjects.

Initially, you will see the top 50 matches, with the ability to keep revealing 50 more, until you reach 1000 courses. You will importantly only see courses switched on in Clearing Plus, and courses for which you meet the criteria set by the university. Unis can therefore control to some degree who sees their courses.

Does Clearing Plus update over time?
Yes, the list will update when the student presses the 'See matches' button in Track, and courses will be available in as close to real time as possible (there may be a couple of seconds delay between a provider adding a course and the student seeing it).

Is it possible to filter courses by distance from home?
This functionality is not yet available, but is high on the UCAS priority list for future years based on student feedback. They can filter by university name for this summer.

How to show interest through Clearing Plus

It is important to remember that Clearing Plus is not a formal application to a university. It is simply a way to let a university know that you may be interested in their course. They will then review the people who have said they are interested, and will get in touch with ones they wish to pursure. If you are super keen on a university, we still recommend getting in touch through other means (telephone, live chat etc.).

How do I let a university know I am interested?
Simply select the 'I'm interested' button and you will see the following popup:

The ‘I’m interested’ popup says:
"I agree that this course provider can contact me if they still have places available for this course, or similar courses, and I meet their entry requirements.
If you change your mind, you need to contact the course provider to let them know"
And then the student can select ‘Allow providers to contact me’ or ‘Cancel’.

What do universities see when students say they are interested?
Universities have a dashboard which allows them to see all interested participants. They are initially just provided with very basic data, including your name and contact details. Some universities might just use this, but they are also provided with a link to your UCAS application if they want more information before contacting you.

Screenshot 2020-06-18 at 18.45.46.png

Is there a limit to the number of courses a student can say they are interested in?
There is no limit to the number of courses students can express interest in via Clearing Plus. We will be monitoring this though - when we asked students whether they thought there should be a limit they were split 50:50. We'll monitor the average number of courses students express interest in and see whether this indicates there should be a limit in the future.

It should be noted that selecting 'I'm interested' does not guarantee contact from the university.

How will universities contact students who have said they are interested - is this by phone as default or email?
It is up to the university how they contact the student - it may be by email or phone.

How long do students have to consider offers from universities?
If students have selected a lot of courses they are interested in and receive a number of offers, it is up to the student to decide which one (if any) they are interested in. There is a need to still act quickly as places will be taken up.

UCAS advise unis to have reasonable deadlines on offers (24hrs or more) to limit pressure on students. Each university will set their own deadline - make sure you check this.

Is there a way to revoke interest?
Short answer, no. For the moment, if a student expresses interest in error, they’re best letting the university know if they contact them. UCAS are working on the ability for a student to revoke interest - please watch this space! This feature will hopefully be available over the summer.

Have a question that isn't answered here? Post in the thread and our UCAS trained Clearing and Applications Advisers will do their best to help!
(edited 3 years ago)
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Recent events this week have highlighted that the grades students receive this year don't always reflect the hard work that students put in. TSR wants to send a message: Your grades don't define you. :heart:

Click here to find out more about this and to get involved.

If you're receiving results at the moment, best of luck and TSR is here to help. :hugs:

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