Students reveal the truth behind Ucas ClearingUniversity process is emotional - but worthwhile in the end

15 August 2016

Clearing and results day

Reassuring news for anyone expecting A-level results this Thursdayif you do end up looking for a university place in Clearing, it might be easier than you think.

Of the first-year students who found their course through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas) Clearing scheme, 38% told us it was quick, while nearly as many (36%) found the process straightforward.

However, around half initially felt stressed at the prospect of going through Clearing, while 42% panicked. Around 10% of the 7,000 students surveyed by Which? University found their place this way.

Getting into uni

The Clearing scheme gives students a second chance to find a university course if they don't get the grades needed for their original choice, or if they don't hold any offers from universities. 

Last year, more than 64,000 students found their university course via Clearing – an eighth of all acceptances that year, and 3,000 more than the year before. 

Which? University has produced a Clearing 2016 survival guide, including tips to prepare before the big day and make every second count.

How Clearing works

While most Clearing vacancies will be published on A-level results day on Thursday, some universities are already advertising places on courses starting this autumn, including Russell Group universities.

Students will need to look up Clearing vacancies on Ucas and contact universities directly to secure a place. Once you've seen a potential vacancy, you can research the relevant course and university on Which? University's couse search before you make the call - our pages are packed with official course info, stats on student satisfaction and graduate employment to help make the right choice.

Keep calm in Clearing

Which? Director of Campaigns and Policy Alex Neill said: 'If you face Clearing this week, don't panic. Although you might think it's going to be stressful, many students told us it worked well for them.

'There are lots of things to think about on results day, particularly if you are going through Clearing; so make sure you take a bit of time to consider all of your options before you make a final decision.'

Students also told us that Clearing had made them reconsider their options. Four in 10 (37%) considered a university they had never thought about before, while a fifth (19%) went on to study a course in a different subject area altogether.

Four in ten (43%) accepted a place at a university they had never visited before.

Top Clearing tips from students

  • Be persistent: 'Don't take no for an answer – be assertive and think of the phone call as an interview.'
  • Be prepared: 'Have a list of the unis you're going to ring up, their Clearing phone numbers, and times the Clearing lines actually open. All this information should be on the individual university websites.'
  • Be an early bird: 'Get on the phone as soon as you know you're in Clearing, as places go like hotcakes.'
  • Keep calm and carry on: 'My sixth form was really good on results day, but I did get upset when I thought I hadn't got a place anywhere. My advice would be not to panic. So many people I know didn't get their first choice unis.'

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