What to do if you miss your university offer and go into Clearing

young couple looking at phone

Found yourself in Clearing? Here's what to do next

Every year, thousands of students wake up on results day to find themselves in Clearing. If you’re one of them – and perhaps you’re a little surprised to be there – what should your next steps be? 

We spoke to Elizabeth Brook, admissions manager at the University of Hull, for some tips on how to handle Clearing.

Step #1 - Stay calm

When you log onto Ucas Track on results day, you’ll be able to see the status of your offers. If you missed both your first choice and your insurance offer, then you will automatically be placed in Clearing.

Missing your offer is naturally a disappointment. But if you can take a deep breath and stay calm, you’ll be able to make the most of this change in plans.

“Don’t panic!” says Elizabeth. “You’ve still got options, and you’re not alone.” 

“Over the years, we’ve talked to thousands of students going through Clearing. Many of them went on to do extraordinary things and got to where they wanted to be.

“Get advice from any family and friends who have been to university. They can help you consider your options.”   

You might also choose to put yourself in Clearing if you’ve met your offer but changed your mind. 

Just use the ‘decline your place’ button in Ucas Track to be officially released into Clearing. More than 20,000 students found a uni place after doing this last year.

Step #2 - Do your research

Once Track shows you are in Clearing, you can start looking at what’s available. Ucas has a really useful search tool for all the courses available, and you can also look at individual university websites.

Most should have Clearing pages where you can search by subject and course. Take some time to read through these, look at the different modules each course includes and make sure that they fit with your interests.

Once you have seen a course you like, it is time to give the university a call. They will have dedicated phone lines for Clearing and the numbers will be published online.

Bear in mind, this doesn’t all need to be a mad dash. Courses don’t all disappear in that first hour of Clearing and taking the time for some preparation can make the whole process a lot easier for you.

young man looking at phone

Step #3 - Pick up the phone

Phoning up is by far the most common way to get a place through Clearing. Before calling, you should check if places are still available on the course you want and that you meet the entry requirements.

People often feel nervous about making these calls, but they're not the terrifying on-the-spot interviews you might imagine. 

Rather it is a conversation where you can check that the course is right for you, as much as they are checking that you are right for the course.

Just spend a few minutes organising yourself before making any calls. Grades and other achievements such as work experience, special projects and additional qualifications are all important, so make a list of these that you can refer to. 

If you can grab your Ucas personal statement, this can also be a useful reference.

Remember the basics, too. “The university will need to take a contact address, phone number and email so make sure to have these to hand,” says Elizabeth. “And before calling, write down any questions you may have so you don’t forget.” 

It can be useful to take notes when you're speaking with universities. This will help you weigh up your options and make a decision that’s right for you.

At the end of this phone conversation you might be given a provisional offer. If so, ask the university to follow up that verbal offer with confirmation of it on email.

It may come with a deadline, which can vary according to the popularity of the course and the university, so make sure you are clear on when that is. 

Then you are free to call as many other universities as you would like, and get as many offers as you would like. Start stacking them up so you have a number of options to choose from.

Universities normally set up Clearing visit days, so you can see the place first hand before making a decision.

The coronavirus situation has had an impact on these kinds of campus events, but you can ask whether any are still going ahead. At Hull, for instance, there are plans to run ‘safe and secure’ Clearing visit days, so students still get to take a look around.

Step #4 - Decision time

From 3pm on A-level results day, you will be able to go on to Track and accept a Clearing offer. 

This acts as your formal acceptance of the offer. Ucas will then send that to the university where it will be verified.

Finally, it's time to relax. Over the following days you will receive written confirmation, with further details and course information. 

If you're going to be moving away from home, you will also need to research your accommodation options. But the hard work is now done - it’s time to start feeling excited.

About our sponsor

At the University of Hull, we know university is a place to feed the heart and the head. Somewhere to develop yourself personally, socially, academically. 

It’s where you find friends for life and discover the moments that make you who you are. It’s your key to a brilliant future. 

And at Hull, you get it all, and so much more. Apply through Clearing today and it could be the moment that makes you.