How to get the best out of your Clearing call

Phoning up universities for the first time can be a daunting experience, but making a Clearing call is actually surprisingly simple

The last thing you probably want to do is to call a stranger when you’ve got the excitement or disappointment of receiving your exam results buzzing round your head.

But, if you want to make the most of Clearing, it’s best to start dialling sooner rather than later.

To help make the process a little bit easier, we’ve put together a guide on how a Clearing call works. Just remember to stay calm and confident, and you could be confirming your university place in a matter of minutes.

1. Step One - The Waiting Game

More than 60,000 students secured their university or college place through Clearing last year, with most getting confirmation over the phone on results day.

With all those people frantically dialling away, it’s understandable that phone lines tend to get pretty busy during the results day peak – usually between 9.30am and 11.30am.

For that reason, the first voice you’ll likely hear on the call will be a recorded message. Try not to be put off and hang up straight away; it’s all part of the process.

Even during peak times, your waiting time should be no more than a couple of minutes. Stay calm and you’ll be talking to a real human in no time!

2. Step Two - Your First Impressions

Once you’re through to the call handler, the real clearing process begins. It doesn’t take long - in total, it will probably last between eight and ten minutes.

Be prepared for questions to be short and snappy. The trained staff at the other end of the line just want to help people as quickly as possible.

The key thing to remember is that universities go out of their way to make sure the Clearing call process is as stress-free as possible.

3. Step Three - Your Qualifications

The first thing the call handler will ask for is a couple of details, such as your UCAS ID and your results. This will include your qualifications: A-Levels, BTECs and GCSEs, subjects and your grades.

You might know your qualifications by heart, but in the heat of the moment they can easily slip your mind. To help calm your nerves, jot them down on a piece of paper before your call so you have them ready.

4. Step Four - Your Eligibility

The next step is to check the current status of your UCAS application to make sure you’re eligible for Clearing.

Chances are you’ll already know where you stand, but the university will likely want to double check to ensure they’re giving the right advice to you.

If you’ve already accepted a place elsewhere but want to transfer, the handler will talk you through the process of releasing yourself from your place. 

Julie Pink, Head of Schools and Colleges Liaison Service at the University of Huddersfield, says: "No matter what type of offer you have, or if you haven't yet applied to university, it's not too late to change your mind and apply through Clearing."

5. Step Five - Your Options

The handler will then see what vacancies are available to you in your chosen subject. This can take a couple of minutes and you may be placed on hold while the search takes place.

If vacancies are available, you can then ask for more details, such as where it’s based, potential placements and what modules are on offer. If there aren’t any places, the caller may suggest alternative but similar courses, for example a joint course with another subject instead of a single subject course.

6. Step Six - Decision Time

If you have the grades, then - good news! - an offer can be made. You may be put through to speak to a member of academic staff at this point.

If you accept the offer, a confirmation email will be sent to your inbox. Most offers come with a time condition which means they must be accepted within 24 or 48 hours. Once you’re happy with an accepted place, you can enter it into UCAS Track.

Julie Pink, who manages the Clearing team at the University of Huddersfield suggests attending a Clearing open day. She says “If you’re made an offer, the university may ask if you want to come to a Clearing open day. This is an opportunity to get to know the campus, visit the accommodation and reassure yourself that you’ve made the right decision.”

If you don’t get an offer or want to try for a better offer elsewhere, don’t panic; just try again!

To find out more about the Clearing process and tips from students, visit the University of Huddersfield website

About our sponsor

Huddersfield logo

The University of Huddersfield is a centre for teaching excellence. It’s the number one university in England for the proportion of staff with teaching qualifications (HESA 2019). It’s also gold-rated in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) as well as winning the first Global Teaching Excellence Award in 2017.

The University has a strong emphasis on real-world experience through work placements and Industry links. Based in West Yorkshire it has excellent transport links to rest of the UK. The modern attractive campus makes Huddersfield an inspiring place to learn.

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