One in three UK teens are worried about getting into university this month due to too much competition

The University of Law shares new research on career aspirations, and top tips when it comes to Clearing

For those who achieve their required grades, A Level results day is one of relief, but just how much do UK teens know about their options if their results aren’t what they needed to get onto their chosen university course?

The University of Law, the UK's longest-established specialist provider of legal education and training, has polled both 1,000 UK teenagers aged between 13 and 17, and 1,000 UK parents (of children this age), to reveal the nation’s worries and expectations about getting accepted into university.

Two thirds (66%) of the secondary school children polled were worried about getting onto their chosen university course, with a third (33%) saying it’s too competitive and 14% saying this was down to their performance at school.

For one in seven (14%) their worry stems from disappointing their parents if they didn’t secure a place. Despite this, the parent survey showed a quarter (26%) of parents don’t have a preference in their child’s career choices.

Although many of the children were concerned they wouldn’t be accepted onto their preferred course, only 7% seemed to take comfort in the options Clearing can offer them, suggesting little awareness of this, despite UCAS data showing 505,680 students were successfully placed onto a university course during the Clearing process in 2017* - a figure which has only risen in the past three years**.

The research also looked into the top career choices in the eyes of British teenagers, versus those they believe pay the most – highlighting the two don’t always correlate. Owning a business was the most aspired career (32%), followed closely by the similar self-employment goal of being a YouTuber, Blogger, or Social Influencer (18%) - although these 21st Century careers only made it 4th and 5th on the list of those believed to bring in the most income.

Commenting on the results, Lysette Gauna, Head of Brand & Content Marketing at The University of Law, said: “It’s sad to see the worries and concerns teenagers feel about getting into university, especially when they can take comfort in the support that the Clearing process can offer them.

“At The University of Law, we’ve seen a lot of great students come onto our courses through Clearing, so we think it’s important students are made aware the different avenues available to them. This might help take away some of the pressure they feel on results day.”


The top five dream careers of secondary school children are:

  1. Own my own business (32%)
  2. YouTube/Blogger/Social Influencer (18%)
  3. Doctor/Nurse (15%)
  4. Teacher (14.5%)
  5. Scientist (12%)

The top five roles perceived to be the highest earnest among secondary school children are:

  1. Lawyer (39%)
  2. Doctor/Nurse (26%)
  3. Athlete/Professional Sports Player (23%)
  4. Owning my own business (21%)
  5. YouTuber/Blogger/Social Influencer (16%) / Senior Manager or Director in a Business (16%)

To support those students who will be applying via the Clearing process this year, Claire Latham, Undergraduate Admissions Manager at The University of Law, has offered her list of do’s and don’ts:



Think ahead about your options before Clearing. Especially if you are worried your grades might not be as good as you hoped.

Get everything you need for Clearing to hand before you make a call

When you call the Clearing hotline make sure you have your Clearing number and UCAS Personal ID number if you have one (you can find this in Track) and the exam results and details of the qualifications you hold.

Phone up

Universities will need to talk to you and some may even do a short telephone interview before they offer you a place. Phoning is essential.

Think carefully about your options, then make a decision

If you already have an offer you have to request a release from firm and/or insurance choices before you can go through Clearing. You can’t change your mind, so you need to be sure. Students can call the Clearing line to get a verbal offer at whatever status. They can only add The University of Law as their Clearing choice then accept their Clearing offer once they have been released from any firm/insurance choice.

Start early

If you have taken A Levels this year you can add Clearing choices on UCAS Track from 3pm on Thursday 16 August.


Wait until your results come out to consider your options

The competition for Clearing places can be intense. Don’t assume a place offered through Clearing is not in demand. There are lots of reasons a place might still be open.

Think it’s too late to apply if you haven’t done so yet

You can still apply now, before the Clearing rush. You can call a Clearing line and get a verbal offer before you have a UCAS application. You would need a UCAS application in order to accept that Clearing offer but there is no problem with calling first.

Let your mum or dad call for you

Unless you have nominated them on your UCAS form you will need to talk to Clearing staff yourself. Don’t worry, staff manning Clearing phones are all super helpful and they may even have gone through Clearing themselves.

Give up

There are lots of options during Clearing. Just be prepared for it to take a little time. Phones will be busy on Clearing day but keep trying.

Assume you have not got your place

Don’t conclude you haven’t got your place if your grades were lower than expected. Check Track first.

The University of Law is offering places on Clearing on a variety of courses.

Top ten career aspirations of secondary-school children:

  1. Own my own business (32%)
  2. YouTube/Blogger/Social Influencer (18%)
  3. Doctor/Nurse (15%)
  4. Teacher (14.5%)
  5. Scientist (12%)
  6. Lawyer (11%), Athlete/Professional Sports Player (11%), Vet (11%)
  7. Artist/Photographer (10%)
  8. Actor/Comedian (7%)
  9. Police Officer (6.5%)
  10. Accounting/Finance (6%)

Top ten careers that secondary-school children think pay the most:

  1. Lawyer (39%)
  2. Doctor/Nurse (26%)
  3. Athlete/Professional Sports Player (23%)
  4. Owning my own business (21%)
  5. YouTube/Blogger/Social Influencer (16%), Senior Manager or Director of a Business (16%)
  6. Actor/Comedian (14%)
  7. Judge (16%)
  8. Politician (12%), Scientist (12%)
  9. Accounting/Finance (8%)
  10. Vet (7%)

Student Survey conducted in July 2018 on a panel of 1,000 teenagers using OnePoll

Parent Survey conducted in July 2018 on a panel of 1,000 parents using TLF

*UCAS Clearing data 2017:

**UCAS Clearing data 2016:

  UCAS Clearing data 2015:

About The University of Law (ULaw): The University of Law is the UK's longest-established specialist provider of legal education and training in the UK, with campuses in London, Birmingham, Bristol, Chester, Guildford, Manchester and Leeds, as well as collaborations with The University of Exeter and The University of Reading. Previously The College of Law, it was granted university status in November 2012.

The University of Law’s market-leading Employability Service gives students access to work experience and pro bono opportunities and legal vacancies as soon as they accept their place. The result is excellent employability statistics: 96% of full-time and accelerated LPC students graduating in summer 2016 secured employment, a training contract, or further study within nine months of successfully completing their course while 91% of full-time undergraduate students graduating in 2016 secured employment or further study within six months of successfully completing their course.

In 2017, The University of Law was awarded a gold ranking in the Government-led Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) for delivering consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for our students, making us one of the highest quality providers of higher education in the UK.

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