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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.

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: PR 17/112

Loughborough University is equipped with a live in-house broadcast unit via the Globelynx network. To arrange an interview with one of our experts please contact the press office on 01509 223491. Bookings can be made online via

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines. It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world to study sports-related subjects in the 2017 QS World University Rankings and top in the country for its student experience in the 2016 THE Student Experience Survey.

Loughborough was ranked 6th in the Guardian University League Table 2018 and 10th in The UK Complete University Guide 2018 and was also named Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017. It has been awarded a Gold rating in the Teaching Excellence Framework, which recognises institutions that deliver consistently outstanding teaching that is of the highest quality found in the UK.

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