School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences


16 Aug 2017

Learn from other people’s mistakes for Clearing 2017

Social interaction experts from Loughborough University have examined hundreds of calls made to its clearing contact centre last year to come up with top tips for students entering the process tomorrow (Thursday 17 August).

In total Loughborough received almost 7,000 enquires about courses it had available via clearing and adjustment in 2016, with similar numbers expected this year.

To try and help students receiving exam results this summer academics have analysed over 300 of the 2016 calls, identifying common mistakes people make when contacting universities during clearing and what people can do differently to get the best out of the process.

The research team’s top findings are:

• Be realistic about what options you have

The majority of callers from the sample analysed were surprised to discover that grades at clearing rarely drop – in many instances they actually increase as demand for places rises and the number of vacancies fall.

• Do your research

Check the clearing website of the university you are contacting before you call for up to date information on course availability and grade requirements. If you have your heart set on a particular university find details of all the courses on offer that you would be willing to study, so if you are not able to get on your first choice you have other options. From the calls analysed there were examples of people securing places on courses that were quite different from their original request – being flexible can help. However, going to university is a big commitment so make sure any course you choose is right for you.

• If you haven’t nominated a contact (e.g. a parent or guardian) as part of your UCAS application form, then only you can speak to the university about your application

The research team found several examples of parents calling on their son/daughter’s behalf to discuss their application to the University. Unless they are the ‘nominated contact’ specified on your UCAS application the call centre staff cannot discuss the details of your situation or your options with them.

• Repeat calling wastes everyone’s time

The research team found no evidence that repeat calling resulted in a course offer when a previous call has failed to secure a place. All it will do is slow yourself and other callers down. Focus on a different university where you might have a better chance of securing a place.

• Bribery does not work!

Having to go through the clearing process can be very stressful, especially when you have your heart set on a particular university or course, but sometimes it is just not meant to be no matter how hard you try. One caller offered a ‘parental donation’ to the University to secure a place – needless to say it did not change the outcome of their call.

Speaking about the research, Loughborough’s Elizabeth Stokoe, Professor of Social Interaction, said: “It was fascinating to listen to these calls and analyse the many different approaches people took to try and get the information they needed and to secure a place.

“Clearing can be a daunting process, but if you follow the tips above, hopefully it will make it a little less stressful and an easier process to navigate.”

Click here for further information about clearing and adjustment at Loughborough University, or call 01509 274 403.

To watch Professor Stokoe speaking about the research, click here.