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Five Year High in University Clearing Figures


Predicted grades give a fair indication of what a student can expect to receive as their final mark. Of course these academic prophesies can can empower some, galvanising them to work harder and exceed their expectations. For others they can leave them complacent, riding the wave of their assurances, before crashing down to a more lowly level than prophesied.

University applications are generally based on predicted grades: The pupil, along with their teachers and perhaps a guidance councillor, will help them choose which universities they can apply to. All that`s required is they achieve the necessary grades, and they will be admitted to their place of future learning, their future happiness and security assured.

But what of those who don`t make the grade? Has it all been for nothing? How can they possibly hope to re-apply at the eleventh hour? to reprise the process they began a year ago, selecting another university, completing their UCAS form, and finding a suitable place of learning with only a few weeks before term begins?

Fortunately there is a system in place to assist students in this position. `Clearing` is the contingency plan offered by most universities, allowing students to effectively re-apply, and find any courses available to them with their current grade set. UCAS itself will also help students in their search, and their guidelines are fairly comprehensive:

  • Clearing is available from July to September each year.
  • Clearing vacancies are regularly updated - generally every day, so students are advised to recheck availabilities as frequently as possible.
  • Results day itself is the busiest day, as might be expected. Many thousands of students will be using the clearing system. Don`t worry if you cant find the course you are seeking on that very day, or even that week. Be patient: it`s a very dynamic time, and vacancies are very likely to appear, especially if you are flexible with your specific subject and location.

Recent results have indicated that 2017 has shown a five year high in the number of students seeking a place through clearing. Figures show that 11,180 students found undergraduate courses through the clearing system in the first 24 hours after the A-Level results were announced. While this number appears prohibitively high, students this year actually have a very good chance of finding another course, because of the recent dip in university applications. Ever increasing exam fees have led to many universities receiving a reduced number of applications - this means that those seeking another course through clearing will be more able to find a vacant seat in the lecture hall.

UCAS Chief Executive Clare Marchant said that there are more than 45,000 courses that can admit more students - a situation that certain favours those who didn`t get the grades they hoped for, and are seeking another route through the clearing system.

Patience is needed though, as the clearing process can be long and arduous. I myself went through the system, having missed the grade on a couple of subjects. These were the days before the internet, and I can remember many anxious hours on the telephone, calling up different universities, speaking to many admissions secretaries. It was late August, and I still hadn`t found a course to accept me. I was prepared to watch all my friends go off to university, walking off into the sunset, while I was consigned to endure what would have felt like the end credits of my life. Finally though, at well past the eleventh hour, I found a university that had a vacancy, and everything turned out fine.

Many students don`t even know about the clearing system, and believe exams to be a life or death ordeal. While this kind of pressure can bring out the best in some, in others it can be inhibiting, and ; result in an academic performance in no way indicative of their true intellectual abilities. Exam retakes are another option - and though the thought of being a year behind can be intolerable, another year`s study, along with another year`s maturity, can have a hugely positive effect. I can recall a friend of mine, who having missed out on his target grades, decided to retake his A-Levels a year later - the following summer he far exceeded the results he needed to get into the university he had chosen, and was able to select a more prestigious place to study.

17 months ago
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