University Clearing Guide 2024

Everything you need to know about applying through Clearing this year.

Waiting to find out if you’ve got into the uni you want can be super stressful. But don’t panic. If your results aren’t what you were hoping for, there’s a second chance at scoring your dream university place by applying for a course through Clearing. 

You’ve probably heard of Clearing, but how does it actually work? The last thing you need on results day is the stress of figuring out how to find a new course to apply for. We get it. So we’ve created this guide where you can find out when Clearing opens this year, what to expect and even tips for your Clearing calls. Be in the know for results day and have one less thing to worry about when making your uni decisions.

In this article:

What is Clearing in university?

Clearing is when UCAS releases courses that haven’t had places filled yet. It gives students another opportunity to secure their university place, especially if they didn’t get the results they wanted. 

So if you’ve:

  • Changed your mind about your course
  • Missed the application deadline
  • Missed the entry requirements for your chosen course

Clearing is there to give you that second chance.

When does Clearing start in 2024?

This year, Clearing opens on the 5th July and closes 21st October at 6pm. If you already have your results, you can apply from the 5th July for a university place. You need your results to enter Clearing, so most students will apply from results day.

A-Level results day is 15th August, and SQA results day for students based in Scotland is 6th August, so you’ll have plenty of time to apply through Clearing. 

How does university Clearing work?

On your results day, you’ll be able to check your UCAS account and see whether you’ve been accepted to your chosen course and university. If you didn’t, you’ll be able to see that you’re eligible for Clearing, and find your Clearing number. Make a note of this as you’ll need to pass it on to universities when you ring them up.

You won’t be able to see your actual grades on your UCAS account, so you’ll still need to pick these up on results day. 

You’ll be able to start searching for courses and phoning universities to chat about the course you’re interested in. Getting organised before you dial can make the process smoother, so have the following to hand:

  • Clearing number
  • UCAS number
  • A-Level/GCSE grades

UCAS also has a really helpful tool which matches you to courses based on your profile, so if you get overwhelmed easily, this will save your endless scrolling through courses.

Self-release into Clearing

If you decide you want to go through Clearing to find another course but you’ve had your firm or insurance offers accepted, then you can self-release into Clearing. 

Take the time to do your research and find other courses you want to apply for through Clearing before you self-release. Once you’ve self-released into Clearing, there’s no going back if you change your mind and want your original options. 

Applying directly to university through Clearing

Missed the 30 June application deadline? You’ll also be able to apply to universities directly through Clearing. It works a bit differently, as you register and create an application before you apply to any courses. You’ll only be able to add your Clearing choice after this is done. 

Once you’ve registered, you’ll get an email from UCAS with details of your application and your Clearing number. Use this to apply to courses once you have your results. 

What to say in a Clearing call

Once you’ve found the courses you’d like to apply to through Clearing, you’ll have to ring the university hotlines to speak about getting a place. Do you really have to speak to them on the phone, we hear you ask? ‘Fraid so. We know that over a third of Gen-Z find making phone calls awkward, so there’s a few things you can do to help make the process easier:

  • Internet and phone signal: there’s nothing like technical difficulties to add stress to a situation, so make sure you have a good phone signal and a contact for the university if your call cuts out
  • Pen and paper or laptop: there’s a good chance you’ll want to note things down when you speak to universities, so whether you go digital or stick to pen and paper, have somewhere to write notes 
  • Read up on the course you want to apply to (and why you’ve chosen it): if your university decides to ask a few follow up questions when you ring them, chances are they’ll want to know why you chose that course

This way you’ll be prepared if they decide to ask a few follow up questions. 

James Ackroyd, Director of Global Recruitment & Admissions at the University of Reading, adds:

“Contacting a university about Clearing vacancies might seem like a daunting process, but I want to assure you that it really isn’t. First and foremost, you need to remember that you’re in control, so make sure that the university and course you’re choosing are the right ones for you.”

What will they ask in a Clearing interview?

Your calls to universities can be five minute confirmation of your details and grades before they offer you a place. But some unis like to do a mini-interview, so it’s worth being prepared for any questions you may be asked and re-reviewing your personal statement, in case they ask about what you wrote. 

It’s a good opportunity for you to ask them questions you might have about the course or campus. Interviews can be goosebump-inducing but thinking of them as a two-way conversation instead of a one-sided Q&A can make them a bit easier. 

A few deep breaths and taking your time can make all the difference to your nerves when answering questions – and remember, they’re not trying to catch you out, they just want to find out about you! Find a few common questions they might ask below.

Why do you want to study this course? 

Probably the most common question that you’ll come across, even if they have no follow-up. The university will likely want to understand your motivations and interests. You can be prepared for this question by having a look at the course description and modules and thinking about what interests you about that particular course.

Why have you chosen this university?

The universities you speak to will likely be interested in why you’ve chosen that particular uni. But not only that, doing some research on your potential new home can also help you make your decision on where to apply to. 

Why do you think you got a low grade? 

If you’ve got a low grade that stands out on your results transcript, the university might ask about it. Questions like this can easily throw you off, but remember, unis aren’t there to catch you out. Try to avoid tripping over an excuse and talk about what went wrong and how you’d avoid it in the future. 

Why have you decided to choose this course when you have previously applied for a different course?

If you originally applied for a different course, then they may ask you why you’ve chosen a different subject. There’s no right or wrong answer, they’ll just want to know why you chose to go a different route, and might ask about your experience with the new subject choice. 

Can I go through Clearing after a gap year?

If you’ve taken a gap year after getting your results, you can apply for a university place through Clearing from the 5th July 2024. But you won’t be able to apply for a deferred place through Clearing, as all the places will be for the upcoming academic year.

If you already have a deferred place secured but you want to apply for a new course through Clearing, you can decline your place and start a new application.

Do universities lower entry requirements in Clearing?

If a course has lots of space left, the unis may lower the entry requirements. But this all depends on the uni and the course. If you’re interested in a course that has higher entry requirements, you could still speak to the uni and find out your chances of acceptance, but have some backups too.

How many universities can I apply to through Clearing?

You can only add one Clearing choice into UCAS, once you have a verbal offer from your chosen university. When you add this choice, your Clearing number won’t be available to use anymore. But, you can ring up and speak to as many universities as you want about the course you want to study. 

What happens after I get my uni place?

Congrats! You’ve done the hard bit and got your offer sorted through Clearing. You’ll be able to see the place accepted on your UCAS profile. Make sure you update your student finance application (you can do this online in your student finance account) so any details are up to date and accurate.

Now it’s time to get ready for freshers, but don’t worry, we’ve got a uni checklist for that. 

Does it cost money to apply through Clearing?

When you originally applied through UCAS, if you chose a multiple choice application, you won’t need to pay anything extra. But if you only chose to pay for one application, you’ll have to pay an additional £4.50 to apply through Clearing. 

How do I contact UCAS?

You can contact UCAS by calling 0371 468 0 468 – or +44 330 333 0230 from outside the UK (international call rates apply). Opening hours are 08:30 – 18:00 (UK time), Monday to Friday.

They usually open their call lines from 8am on 15th August (A-Level results day). 

If you have hearing difficulties, you can also call the Text Relay service on 18001 0371 468 0 468 (or on 0044 151 494 1260 from outside the UK and ask the operator to dial 0371 468 0 468).

Check out the best student discounts and deals to get you prepared for uni life.

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