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New research: Stigma endures around university #clearing

2,000 university students give their thoughts on the process and what can be done to help attract more students to fill places at UK universities

Nearly half (46%) of students in higher education believe there is still a stigma attached to attending university via clearing. This is according to new research published today (22 Aug) by Campus Society, the UK’s largest social network for students, which reveals that, for many, the process of clearing remains misunderstood.

With A Level results announced on 15th August, and universities increasingly reliant on clearing to fill course spaces, new research reveals they are not yet effective in communicating the route as a positive means for students to get the most out of their campus experiences. The poll of nearly 2,000 students found that some progress is being made; 44% of survey respondents said the stigma around clearing had reduced over the past five years. Yet the results suggest more can still be done to relay the message that clearing is not exclusively for applicants who don’t get their expected A Level grades.

For example, 44% stated they didn’t know they could use clearing to apply for another course at a different university at the start of the next academic year – a useful process for anyone that’s had a change in personal circumstances or change in heart about what they study.

What’s more, in terms of the reservations of using clearing as a means of reapplying to university, the biggest (47%) was students not knowing enough about the process. This came ahead of financial concerns (44%), not wanting to wait until clearing to reapply (34%) and family pressure to stick to their current courses (23%).

Communications to clarify

How can universities better educate students on the process and value of clearing? New communication channels are an option. The Campus Society study discovered 70% of students would use social media to research potential universities and courses, and that the majority (58%) would be happy with universities using social media platforms to interact with them specifically over the subject of clearing. As it stands, however, universities are not capitalising on this opportunity – two thirds (64%) of students are not interacting with universities via social over the entire results period.

Rashid Ajami, CEO and Founder of Campus Society says:

“We need to bury the stereotype that clearing is only for university applicants who don’t make their expected grades. Clearing is an important process that exists for all students to get the higher education experience that’s right for them – including those who want to switch courses or universities. In pursuit of this, within the student population, we’re seeing the rise of focussed social media communities to support the sharing of information, experience and insights.”

About the survey: 1,990 students from Campus Society’s platform participated in this survey between 19th – 25th June 2019.

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