Six Clearing myths busted


If you’ve applied to university this year, then you’ll definitely have heard of Clearing. And like many students you probably think Clearing is the last chance saloon people go to when it’s all gone horribly wrong. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Clearing is simply another way to find a university place and is used by people in lots of different situations to get to uni.

We’ve teamed up with Coventry University’s deputy director of admissions, Simon Jones, to help bust this and other commonly held Clearing myths. So, if and when you need to enter Clearing you’ll be armed with all the facts and not a load of hot air and rumours.

1. Clearing is confusing and probably not for me.

Simon says: “Clearing is simply the name for the process by which last minute offers are made to students. It’s a hugely busy time and thousands of university places will be offered through Clearing each year. While it might seem daunting and confusing, it’s really very simple. Anyone who doesn’t get on their chosen course or university, or who wants to change their chosen path of study can put themselves into Clearing through UCAS. Then they contact universities individually with their grades and are matched with any suitable courses that have places available – with decisions and offers being made usually on the phones within the space of a few days.

“You can contact as many universities as you wish and explore as many courses as you like, so it’s much more of a way to put you in control and help you feel empowered about your future.”

2. Clearing is just a way to fill the courses nobody wants.

“The idea that courses in Clearing are just the ones which don’t fill up is not really the case at all. There are lots of reasons for courses not being full. From other students not taking the places, to class sizes simply being much larger since the cap on university places was lifted and making it much more unusual for certain courses to be truly ‘full’.

“Universities also want to make sure they have the students most suited and with the best grades, so on certain courses places can sometimes be deliberately left open for Clearing to attract those strong last-minute applicants. It might once have been seen as a bit of a bargain bin, but that certainly is not the case in recent years – in fact a lot of universities will likely have spaces on nearly all courses as they’re prepared to taken on the students that they really want and who are a great fit but only appear last minute.”

3. I’ve failed if I find myself in Clearing

“This is another reflection of some very outdated views. The idea that it is for students who didn’t do well in exams and need to find anywhere who will take them is just not the case nowadays.

“In fact, we often see people who deliberately put themselves into Clearing by rejecting all of their UCAS choices because for them it is the best way to get to talk to universities and get a place sorted quickly much later in the summer. We also see people who do better than expected on results day and think perhaps there are other options out there, so for them Clearing is a way to trade up and study something they previously thought wasn’t open to them.

“Then there are all those who just change their minds or want more time to make a decision over the summer. Whatever it used to be, Clearing is now just another route into university and a way for you to study this September. Just make sure you register with UCAS.”

4. It will be too late for me to study something new

“One of the great things about Clearing is that it can open up options you might never have known were out there. People get onto all sorts of interesting career paths after being faced with lists of available and suitable courses for their qualifications.

“As long as you meet the course requirements and are a good match, you don’t necessarily have to have studied these subjects previously to be a good match.”

5. I won’t fit in on my course if I come through Clearing

“Nonsense. Everybody enrolled in university is treated in the same way no matter how they got a place, and there’s certainly no way to tell how anyone was enrolled. Regardless whether you were made an unconditional offer 12 months ago, or got your place through Clearing just weeks before turning up on your first day, once you’re in – you’re in. It’s as simple as that.”

6. Clearing is such a rush, I have to be on the phone at 8am and make a choice there and then with no idea what I’m signing up for.

“For Clearing to work well, it should be anything but a rushed process. If you’re still waiting for A-level results day, try to think through your options and what you might do if things don’t go as expected. Whether you have your grades or not, you can start contacting universities now to see what’s on offer.

“Even when it comes to the big day, and you find yourself in the Clearing process – you can’t accept any offers until 3pm when UCAS Track reopens, so you have plenty of time to think calmly and make those decisions, even if you were offered a place very early in the day.”

Top Tips from Coventry

  • Use the morning wisely to ring around, find out what’s on offer and what’s right for you. Remember, even when you are made an offer, you’ll usually have a day or two in which to respond so there is time to think.
  • Don’t feel rushed or panicked – The Clearing process goes on well into the following week where courses will still be recruiting.
  • Be prepared - As always, it’s a case of the more prepared you can be, the better.
  • Beat the Clearing rush – If you already know your results, don’t delay! Get on the phones and see if universities can make you an offer before the Clearing rush.

Visit our Clearing hub for lots more help and advice on Clearing

For more help and advice on Clearing and what’s on offer in Coventry, visit


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