Clearing FAQ 2021Watch
Clearing, Self-Release into Clearing, Adjustment and COVID-19 Changes FAQ
Back by popular demand is our FAQ for Results and Clearing for 2021! This thread contains several FAQs covering all aspects of Clearing, from what it actually is and how to apply, to instructions for placing yourself into Clearing through self-release.
This is a list of are some of the most common questions asked by students on TSR each year. From Clearing basics (what it is and how to apply), to troubleshooting and changing your mind, we’ve compiled a list of popular questions and answers from previous years, all updated for 2021 applicants.
We have also added an extra bonus FAQ focusing on COVID-19 and the impact this is likely to have on the Clearing processes this year.
Click here to jump to our Self-Release into Clearing FAQ
Click here to jump to our Adjustment FAQ
Click here to jump to our COVID-19 Pandemic - Changes to Clearing and Adjustment FAQ!
See our thread on the new 'Clearing Plus' service here!
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!
Clearing - Eligibility and Basic Info
What is it and how does it work?
Clearing is essentially a way to access university for those who did not apply in the main cycle or for those who do not hold any offers.
During Clearing, you are able to directly contact universities to see if they have a place available on a course you wish to access. Generally, this is done by phone (although some universities are utilising social media too). You can search for available vacancies via the UCAS website, make a list of universities you think you may be interested in and then give them a call.
Universities can then make you a verbal offer. Once you have this, you can enter it into your UCAS Track. On Results Day, this can be done from 2pm - this allows you to call several universities and gives you some time to consider your options. Universities will often give you a time period to enter your choice on Track - they don’t want to hold places for people who may not be interested. Once you’ve submitted the choice on Track, the university will then formally accept your place.
Who is eligible for Clearing?
Essentially, anyone who does not have an offer of a place. This might be because you applied directly to clearing, because you were rejected by your choices or if you asked a university you were placed with to put you in clearing.
In order to be eligible you need an application in the current UCAS cycle and to have paid the full application fee. You also need to have a Clearing number (sometimes referred to as a Clearing ID).
Is Clearing only for unpopular courses? What about Law and Medicine?
There is a common misconception that Clearing is only for courses where there weren’t enough applicants. Courses may be in Clearing for many reasons, such as not enough applicants meeting the minimum entry requirements, applicants performing poorly at interview, or poor advertising of the course.
In recent years, we’ve seen places for Law, for example, at some very popular universities. We’ve also seen Medicine in Clearing too!
Will a university have places for my course in clearing?
Clearing vacancies are published only on the UCAS website. There are no longer newspaper listings available as these are unreliable and do not reflect the dynamic, changing nature of Clearing. You can search for Clearing vacancies here: https://digital.ucas.com/search.
Clearing vacancies change all the time - what is available on the 5th of July is likely to be very different from what is available after Results Day, for example.
Will universities reduce their entry requirements in Clearing?
Potentially. Some do, some don’t. Some have the option to be more flexible depending on the strength of the rest of your application. There really isn’t any way to predict whether entry requirements will fall, and, if so, by how much. Grade requirements may also change as Clearing progresses.
For courses with requirements for GCSE English and Maths at a particular grade, these are highly unlikely to be lowered.
What is a Clearing number?
To apply via Clearing you must have a Clearing number. A Clearing number or Clearing ID is a number which appears on your Track once you no longer hold offers. You need this number in order to process your Clearing application. When you speak to universities, you will need to provide this number in order for them to find your application.
Will universities speak to me without a clearing number?
They may or may not. Universities might be able to give you limited informal information, however generally they will require you to have a Clearing number in order to give you a formal verbal offer.
Clearing - How to Apply via Clearing
How do I contact universities to get an offer in Clearing?
Clearing is quite different to the main UCAS process in that it works based on verbal offers. The onus is on the applicant to contact universities, obtain a verbal offer (or multiple verbal offers if they wish) and then choose one offer to enter onto UCAS Track, which the university will then confirm. The applicant needs to search clearing vacancies, identify universities and then contact them directly to open a dialogue.
What do I say when I call the universities?
You simply need to say that you are interested in X course and were wondering if they had any places available. You will likely then be asked to provide your Clearing number/ID so that the university can access your application.
Universities might ask you to confirm personal details or academic results, so it’s a good idea to have a transcript of your results to hand. The operator will guide you in terms of any information they require from you.
You should always take a note of the name of the person you spoke to and any important information, so keep a pen and paper handy!
Can I call as many universities as I like?
Of course! It’s a good idea to consider all of your available options. There is no limit to the number of verbal offers you can hold, although you can only add one choice on UCAS Track. It’s a good idea to prioritise the universities you want to go to most, as these offers are on a first-come-first-served basis, and obviously if you decide you no longer want a place at a university, it’s a good idea to let them know so that that place can be offered to someone else.
Can I call a university even if they haven't advertised any clearing vacancies for my course?
Yes, however it’s unlikely they will have places. Universities do, occasionally, operate internal clearing lists for very popular courses, or courses where there may only be one or two places (which therefore aren’t worth advertising).
If there is a particular course or university you have your heart set on then it may be worth a try, however you should be aware it’s very likely you will be disappointed.
Do I need a new personal statement?
Universities you apply to in Clearing will see your original UCAS application. If you are applying for a different course, you can ask explain this to the university and ask if they would be willing to consider an additional statement. Obviously, you would need to have this prepared in advance.
Clearing - Once You've Secured a Verbal Offer
I’ve got a verbal offer - now what do I do?
Once you’ve secured a verbal offer, you can enter it into UCAS Track. This is your formal submission of your offer. You absolutely must make sure you enter this offer within the timeframe stated by the university - failure to do so can mean you lose your place.
When can I enter a clearing choice on track?
If you already have your exam results, you can enter a choice as soon as Clearing opens. If you have results to collect on Results Day, you won’t be able to enter a choice until 3pm that day. This gives you time to look at your options, call some universities and make a decision. You can only enter one choice in Track - so you need to make sure it’s the right one!
Will I need to attend an interview?
It’s unlikely. Most universities don’t have the capacity/facility to hold interviews during Clearing. There are, however, some exceptions to this.
For healthcare courses (Nursing, Midwifery, Medicine etc.), you may need to attend an interview. Often universities are required to interview prospective students as part of the requirements of their professional regulatory body.
For Art and Design courses, you will usually be required to send over a web-based portfolio before being given an offer. It’s therefore really important that you’ve had a look at portfolio guidelines beforehand and have one prepared.
Performing arts courses may require provision of a video audition (usually pre-recorded). It’s a good idea to have a selection of monologues, music or choreography as appropriate prepared.
Troubleshooting - When things don’t quite go to plan...
Anything that happens outside of the ‘normal’ UCAS process has the potential for issues to occur. By following the advice above, you should limit the chances of any problems, however things unfortunately still do go wrong on occasion. The process is human, and mistakes can be made on both the side of the applicant and the university. Here’s how to deal with them.
Can I be rejected after I’ve entered the choice on Track?
Yes - there are two main reasons why this may happen. The first is failing to obtain a verbal offer before adding the choice. The university won’t accept someone they have never heard of. If you’ve done this, you would need to contact the university to explain. The second reason is that you have failed to add the choice by the deadline specified by the university at the time of the offer.
If you do find you have been rejected and can’t work out why, it’s important that you contact the university as soon as possible to find out why.
I accepted a Clearing offer and added it to Track, but I’ve changed my mind. What do I do?
Once you have accepted a verbal offer and added it to UCAS Track, you are committed to that offer to some degree, so it’s important you are sure about your choice before entering it.
If you definitely do not wish to attend that university, you would need to contact them, explain the situation and request that they place you back in Clearing. The university is under no obligation to do this quickly, and are likely to prioritise their applicants who want to attend
It's a good idea to ask what their timescale for this is, and also to contact the university you actually want to go to in order to make them aware of the delay, and make sure that they are happy to wait.
I have been accepted into my firm/insurance but I’ve seen something I love in Clearing. Can I apply?
Firstly, you would need to call the university in Clearing to see if the place is still available and get a preliminary idea of whether they would accept you.
You then would need to contact the university you hold a place with to ask them to place you into Clearing. The university is under no obligation to do this at any particular speed (they’re likely to prioritise those who do want to attend!) so it’s important that you get an idea of their timescale and ensure your new university is willing to wait that amount of time.
Your other (quicker) option is to use UCAS Track to place yourself in Clearing. You can do this by following the ‘Decline my place’ option on Track and filling in the form. If you're interested in this route, check out our self-release FAQ here: https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/sho....php?t=6018164
Once you have been placed into Clearing, you can follow the normal Clearing process of adding the choice to your UCAS track. Do be aware that there is risk associated with this - if your original university takes a long time to put you into Clearing then you may lose your new offer. Be aware that UCAS are often unable to assist with this.
I have been accepted by my firm but I now want to go to my insurance, what do I do?
You would need to follow the same steps as above, as once you have met the conditions of your firm choice, your insurance offer ceases to exist. You would need to contact the insurance choice to see if they still have places and would be willing to consider you.
I’m waiting for a decision from my firm/insurance, but I've found a course I like in clearing, what do I do?
You can call your firm/insurance to let them know you no longer want to be considered so that they can record an unsuccessful decision and then you can be placed in Clearing.
Unlike asking to be placed in Clearing when you hold an offer, UCAS will normally be able to help you out in this situation if you are having trouble with delays from your original university.
I’m worried about accommodation. Won’t it all be taken by the time I apply?
This is something it’s important to discuss with universities at the time when you are given a verbal offer. Some universities may have places in their own accommodation, others may not. Some universities can offer you additional support if you are accepted in Clearing to secure private accommodation.
Generally it’s unlikely you would be stuck without any accommodation at all - even if what is available would not be your first choice.
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!
Self-Release into Clearing FAQ
We’ve compiled a few FAQs to help you understand what self-release is, how to do it and what happens if things go wrong.
What is Self-Release into Clearing and how does it work?
In previous years, applicants who no longer wished to take up their unconditional offer and wanted to apply elsewhere would need to contact the university they had been placed with and ask to be placed into clearing. The problem with this was that universities tend to be really busy on Results Day, and weren’t prioritising these students - naturally, they gave more time and attention to the ones who actually wanted to go there. This resulted in huge amounts of stress for students, as their new university would often only agree to hold their place for a limited amount of time.
To tackle this, UCAS is allows applicants to release themselves in to Clearing using a 'decline my place' button on their Track.
Declining your unconditional firm place - what is it and how does it work?
Essentially, this button allows an applicant who holds an unconditional offer to place themselves into Clearing. This declines their place and allows them to apply to other universities which have vacancies. This can be done via UCAS Track and doesn’t require the applicant to contact the university they want to be released from.
Who can decline their place? Is it open to everyone?
"Decline my place" is open to any applicant who has been placed with a university and has an unconditional offer. You might have an unconditional offer early, if you already had your results, or, more commonly, your offer will turn unconditional on Results Day, once you meet the conditions set out in your offer.
If you are eligible, you will see a button on your UCAS Track stating ‘Decline my place’ from 5th July.
When should I release myself into Clearing?
You can press the button from any time when you have an unconditional offer, however you should only actually press the "decline my place" button once you have a verbal offer from a university. Of course, you should only release once you are satisfied you are completely sure you do not wish to attend the university you have been placed with.
What are the benefits of releasing yourself into Clearing?
Firstly, it’s a lot quicker than the old method. It can be done in a matter of minutes. You’re also totally in control - you aren’t relying on administrative staff from a university. It’s also hoped that this method will reduce a lot of stress associated with Clearing.
What are the risks?
Once you are placed in Clearing, your place at your original university becomes available to others. There is no easy way to reverse this and it may mean you lose your place.
Additionally, if you place yourself in Clearing and subsequently fail to secure a place at a new university (for example, if you don’t find anything you like the look of or if universities aren’t willing to offer you a place) then you may find yourself without any offers and facing the possibility of needing to reapply.
This therefore isn’t a decision you should ever take lightly.
Can I press the "decline my place" button by accident?
Potentially, but UCAS makes it very hard to do so.
In addition to clicking the ‘decline my place’ button, you would also need to complete a drop-down questionnaire. You shouldn’t proceed with the self-release unless you are 100% sure you do not want to attend the university you have been placed with.
I pressed the "decline my place" button and now I wish I hadn’t. What do I do?
You will need to phone up your original university which you were placed with as soon as possible. Once you have been placed in clearing, your spot at that university becomes up for grabs. You need to contact the university to explain you made a mistake and that you still want the place. They will then instruct you about next steps.
It is possible that the university will already have filled your place, particularly if there is a time gap between your self-release and you contacting the university. If this is the case, you may unfortunately need to look for another place elsewhere.
Have questions that aren’t answered here? Need more information before making a decision? Post below and one of our UCAS trained Applications and Clearing Advisers will do their best to help!
COVID-19 Pandemic and Changes to Clearing and Adjustment FAQ
We expect that there will be some changes to the way Clearing works due to the current pandemic. This will primarily impact UCAS and university call centres. It's worth being aware of these changes to help during the Clearing/Adjustment process. We also know that more students may be considering deferring their application, or might have concerns about remote teaching.
Here is a summary of the key changes and frequently asked questions relating to the impact of the COVID pandemic.
Will unis be more flexible about entry requirements considering the current situation?
Universities have been encouraged to be flexible considering the methods used to award grades this year. Consideration is being given particularly to those who have not been able to receive their assessed grades. We have found that universities are generally trying to be sympathetic and to support students. Probably more so than previous years, personal statements, work experience and other qualifications are playing a bit part in applications.
I am worried I won't have the university experience or might miss out on face-to-face learning, should I consider deferring?
Deferring is a very personal choice. It is vitally important that students recognise that a lot of the blended learning methods we have seen during the pandemic have actually been in the pipeline for a long time, and that virtual learning was always going to happen. There has been a huge investment into remote learning, so universities are likely to continue with this into the next year in some form regardless of the COVID pandemic situation. Universities generally see this as a benefit to students. Deferring to avoid remote learning is therefore generally not a realistic approach.
Remember that universities may be limited by their targets, and they will consider each request on a case-by-case basis.Students cannot have a deferred offer and apply again however at the moment there is nothing stopping them registering for entry in the next academic year.
What happens about the 31st August deadline for meeting conditions?
Normally students need to meet all of the conditions of their offer by 31st August. For 2021 this has been extended to the 8th of September.
At the moment all indications are that the 15th Oct deadline will be retained for Oxbridge, Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary courses.
Is it still possible to call UCAS in the case of problems?
UCAS and universities are being honest in that they feel it will be a longer call wait. They are generally expecting more calls and since lockdown, their calls and social media interactions have gone through the roof. The call centre is still being operated as per any usual Clearing but staff will be at home.
What will university contact look like on results day?
Universities will have options - either a partially physical location or fully remote service. Generally they will be doing more remote work and things like live chat will be utilised more than in previous years.
If you need to be transferred to another department it may mean a longer wait than usual as many of the advisers and staff will be working from home.
For courses requiring an interview, universities are looking at having academics on standby.
What about IELTS exams?
IELTS exams require physical attendance which is not possible for most people due to travel restrictions. Universities generally have implemented alternative options such as online tests. Speak to the university directly to find out your alternative options.
How will Clearing work for Advisers and teachers this year?
An email is sent to advisers (this will likely be your careers advisor or head of year at school) every year to let them know about their unplaced applicants. UCAS currently not in a position to confirm whether this is happening or what support will be given to advisers yet. This means your teachers may not be quite as prepared, but will still be available to provide support if you need it.
Have a question we didn't answer? Need more information? Post below and one of our UCAS trained Clearing and Applications Advisers will do their best to help!
hi guys, I've tried contacting my firm if I could swap courses. I would like to stay at the same uni but simply study another course. The course is available through clearing and I've emailed the Uni twice over the past two days but they haven't responded, what should I do? Should I ring them up? The Uni of UoM btw so anyway phone number I could use to contact them with?
I don't know what UoM is - Manchester? Middlesex? Miami? But the phone number is usually easily obtainable on their website.
I have applied to university through clearing and been accepted. I have 14 days to confirm my place but only just applied to student finance who have said it will take 4-6 weeks to process my application. Will the university keep my place or will I have to decline in case my student finance doesn’t come through?