A Last-Minute Guide for Clearing Students.

The number of students going through the clearing method year-on-year has been steadily increasing, with a 100% growth rate in the past five years. In 2013, 5570 students went through clearing on results day. Five years later, in 2017, that number has doubled, with 11,180 students securing university places through clearing.

With all this in mind, Fresh Student Living have produced a handy last-minute guide for students who are looking to get in the clearing process last minute.

In the past, students would have to compete for a limited number of places at top universities. In recent years, this setup has shifted, and universities are now competing to attract students. This means clearing has started playing a bigger role in the admissions cycle. Students have more choice and more freedom to undertake the kind of learning journey that works best for them.

Due to the UK’s university clearing process, there’s still a chance for students to enrol for an undergrad course this year even if you’ve left your application a little late, or haven’t got the grades you’d hoped for.

What is Clearing?

Clearing is a way of matching university applicants to available places. It’s part of the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) application process. Clearing helps universities to fill up any vacancies they may have and gives students the chance to find the most suitable course.

Clearing takes place annually from July to September, after exam results have been released.

Is Clearing Right for You?

You might need to go through clearing if:

  • Your exam results didn't go as well as expected, and you aren't accepted by your current choices. 
  • You didn't receive any offers for a course from a university. 
  • You didn’t meet the conditions of offers you received. 
  • You rejected an offer you received because you changed your mind about your chosen course or location. 
  • You want a place at a university but haven’t applied yet.

How to get through Clearing

Before Results Day: Ideally, it helps to prepare yourself before your results come out by researching alternative options.

  • If you’re worried about your grades, put a “plan B” in place. Research which other unis offer the same (or similar) courses as your current choice and see if there are any with slightly lower grade requirements. 
  • Make sure you’ve got all your info and documents handy before you make any calls. Be prepared to make notes on the calls as well. 
  • Be prepared for a mini-admissions interview over the phone. Don’t forget to write down your answers beforehand. 
  • If you don’t get time to prep, don’t panic – you can still make it through clearing on Results Day. 


On Results Day: Once exam results are released, the pace of the clearing process picks up dramatically and every second counts. This is the day you need to be prepared to go, go, go!

  1. Check the UCAS Track site as early as possible to see your application status. If you’re eligible for clearing, you’ll be given a clearing number.
  2. Start phoning your preferred universities through their special clearing phone lines to speak to an adviser about the course you’re interested in. 
  3. Be prepared for a mini-interview over the phone. Have all your information ready and take notes. 
  4. The adviser will confirm whether you’re accepted right there on the phone. After that, you’ll typically have 24 hours to confirm the offer or find another one. 
  5. Once you have an offer you’re happy to accept, confirm your place on UCAS Track. 
  6. If you're unsure about the status of your uni place, contact the university directly to get confirmation (but be prepared to hold the line for a while – it’s a busy day). 
  7. UCAS will also provide live updates of all courses available through clearing. 

After Clearing: Once you’ve secured a place, it’s time to start thinking about the next steps.

  • Look into university accommodation in your chosen city. 
  • Update your student finance body on where you'll be studying. 
  • Start familiarising yourself with your new university. 
  • Breathe – you did it! 

Which Universities take Clearing Students?

As clearing becomes more widespread, more top-ranked Russell Group universities have started offering clearing vacancies to hopeful students. For example, the University of Birmingham entered clearing in 2016-17, with 181 vacancies.

This year, the University of Edinburgh, King’s College London, and the University of Manchester are just a few of the prestigious UK universities with clearing courses available.

Jane Crouch, Chief Operations Officer at Fresh Property Group concludes:  

“Year on year, we are seeing an increase in students applying for last minute accommodation schemes, which shows current views on the clearing process has shifted steadily and plays an important role in the admissions cycle. At this time of year, students may have to make quick decisions on where they will study and live in September.

“The Fresh Student Living Accommodation Teams can assist with advice on living options and help students find their perfect room. The accommodation offers first years a real home away from home, with a packed welcome calendar, friendly on-site accommodation teams, and all-inclusive bills, making moving in will be as stress-free as possible”

About Fresh Student Living: A leading provider of student accommodation offering homes to over 16,000 students in more than 50 towns and cities across the UK. Their philosophy revolves around creating quality student homes as unique as the people who live in them and has resulted in 90% of students rating their time with Fresh Student Living as very satisfied or satisfied.

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