Common myths about clearing and results day

Over the years, clearing has become known as a process that is only open to students that have missed their grades. Well, things have changed and there are a few things about clearing that we think you should know.

The same misconceptions about clearing seem to crop up every summer and put students off a process that could help them to secure a place at a top UK university.

Let us test your knowledge and challenge some of the misconceptions that you might have heard about Clearing. Who knows, perhaps we can convince you that Clearing is something that you should be thinking about too!

Separate the facts from fiction

Far from being a last resort, clearing and adjustment are increasingly becoming options for students looking to re-evaluate their choices, choose a more prestigious university, or change direction entirely to a course that is a better fit for them. Take a look at some of the most common misconceptions about clearing and adjustment below, and expand each statement to uncover the truth.

"Clearing is only open for students who don’t do well in their exams or have poor results"

If you achieve lower grades than expected on Results Day and you want to start university as soon as possible, Clearing really is the best route to take and will enable you to apply for courses that you want to study. But did you know that having a change of heart is actually one of the most common reasons for students to enter clearing?

You are asked to make your firm and insurance choices a couple of months before your results are released, so it is normal to question your decision at least once during this timeframe. Clearing gives you an opportunity to reflect on your choices, figure out your options and decide on a university that is right for you. Finding somewhere you feel safe and comfortable is essential, and clearing provides you with extra time to re-evaluate your options and make that all-important decision on where to study.

Some students can and do enter Clearing to ‘trade up’ and look at universities and courses that they may have overlooked in the past. Normally labelled ‘adjustment’, the process is exactly the same and students who fit this criteria will be asked to follow the same steps as all other students who are applying to universities in clearing.

A note on UCAS self-release:

In 2019, UCAS introduced an option to ‘self-release’ on UCAS Track, enabling students to decline all of their original offers and apply to universities in clearing. This simple process is empowering students to think carefully about their choices and break free from their commitments if they find another university that is a better fit for them.

"Clearing is just the courses that no-one wants"

Any course can go into Clearing if the university has places they would like to fill, or they have the capacity to expand the class size of a course. Universities have learned that students change their mind or get released from even the most popular of courses, so it isn’t uncommon to see highly desirable courses with vacancies available in Clearing.

It is difficult to predict exactly which courses will be in Clearing and how many places will be made available on each course, so it is wise to sign up for Clearing alerts from the universities you are most interested in, so that you can be notified as soon as each university’s vacancies are released.

"Clearing opens on Results Day and there is a mad rush for university spaces"

For most UK students, clearing does open on Results Day (13 August 2020) however, for International Baccalaureate students, clearing is open from 6 July 2020 as their results are released earlier than other qualifications. 

For some BTEC courses, clearing opens as soon as results are published in July or August – please check with your school or college for specific dates. Scottish students are expected to receive their results on or before 4 August 2020.

A lot of work goes on in the background to make sure university Clearing processes are as smooth and as stress-free as possible, and support is usually available from teachers and careers advisors on Results Day. To make the process as stress-free as possible, it’s a really good idea to plan for every eventuality and think seriously about the universities and courses you might apply to if you enter into Clearing. You can find out more about preparing for results day.

"When applying for courses in clearing, you must stick to the same subject(s) you applied for before"

This couldn’t be further from the truth - you can apply for as many courses as you like, at as many universities as you like, provided there are places available and you meet the entry criteria. You can stick to the same courses or you can choose a completely new course, the choice is yours. Just remember – you can only accept one offer.

"You’re not allowed to re-apply to universities that rejected you"

You can apply to any university that is in clearing, and provided you meet their course requirements, that could include the same university that rejected you.

We know from past experience that some students have their heart set on joining Loughborough and it can be extremely disappointing to find out that you have not been accepted onto the course that you originally applied for. However, all is not lost through clearing.

If you are open to other course options, you could apply for a different course with different entry criteria. Wherever you see yourself in September, it is important to remember that universities consider your application based on entry to a specific course or closely related set of courses; if you do not meet the entry criteria for a course, the university would still love to have you – they are simply unable to flex the criteria enough to let you onto that particular course or set of courses in a particular subject area.

"If I get into university through clearing, everyone will know"

Whether you enter a university through Clearing or via the usual route, no-one will ask you about your exam results or whether you came through Clearing. All students are treated the same and no one will be singled out for their grades or their admission route to university.