UCAS clearing 2023 School Leavers

UCAS Clearing 2023 | What You Need to Know

UCAS Clearing is a process that allocates unfilled university places to students without any offers.

You can use university clearing from July to October.

You can apply if you don’t currently have an offer from a university and there are still places left on the course. You can also apply for clearing if you declined your firm place through UCAS.

You can also apply through Clearing if you didn’t meet the requirements of your offers or have declined your place at university using Track.

How Does UCAS Clearing Work?

Clearing is an ideal way of finding whether any universities still have any places available for their courses. Basically, if you don’t meet the entry requirements to secure your place with your firm or insurance choices then there’s a list of unis with available places on the UCAS site. All you do is start working your way down the list, calling unis with course details that interest you and seeing if they have anything available for you. It doesn’t have to be anything to do with your previous choices.

If you haven’t applied to university already then you’ll first need to submit an application. Once this has been done UCAS will send you a starter pack which will include crucial details of how you can log on to Track. You’ll also receive a Clearing number as well as advice, on searching for vacancies, how to contact universities and how to add the course in Track.

When Does Clearing Open?

Wondering when Clearing opens? You’re not the only one! UCAS Clearing officially opens in July. If you’ve already got your results, you can start your clearing UCAS application process. If not, you’ll be able to enter Clearing on A Level results day, if you decide it’s for you. However, in Scotland, the Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA) results day in August.

You can apply to UCAS Clearing up until the deadline which is mid-October.

How to Use UCAS Clearing?

When using the UCAS Clearing process you should try to prepare in advance, make a list of all the universities and Clearing vacancies that appear to interest you and put them in order of highest priority. That way if you do wish to find a new opportunity you’ll have them all organised.

Higher-ranked university places can fill up extremely quickly so if you have the contact details ready on A-Level results day you can start ringing straight away. Top Tip: make sure you have your Clearing number with you.

How Do I Get a Place?

Did you miss out on your grades, or decided to turn down your offers? Start working down the lists and calling unis, with your Clearing number, UCAS ID and results to hand (all that info is available on Track).

Got your grades already? You’ll need to complete a full application on the UCAS site first. After that, you follow exactly the same process as above. Unis will let you know what they have available and if they’re willing to make you an informal offer. You can then go away and think about it. Once you’ve made your mind up, contact them and accept the offer. Once they give you permission, you can add that course to your choices on Track.

Adding the course to Track means you’ve accepted the offer, and they’ll send you a confirmation. And that’s it! You’re going to uni. Time to start investigating student finances and looking forward to the road ahead. We recommend perfecting your tea-making skills too, it’s a great ice-breaker during Freshers’ Week.

Don’t go on holiday during clearing or results day for that matter. This is a vital time of the year for students and can ultimately set you up for your future! Try to remain positive if you don’t get accepted to your chosen university. It’s not the end of the world and you can still go to university if that’s what you want!

Check Track!

Ensure you regularly check UCAS Track for the feature ‘Add Clearing Choice’, once you are eligible this option will appear on the Track Choices screen. If you’re limited to options you could always consider broadening your subject search or consider a joint course if it suits your career aspirations.

It’s not advisable to ask someone to ring the university on your behalf. We understand this can feel nerve-wracking but it doesn’t have to be and the university will only want to help you! Most universities will only offer you a place when talking with the applicant directly.

Clearing can be stressful but it’s important to keep going! Remember there are 1000’s of students in the same boat as you so keep trying and you will get there!

Why Might I Consider Clearing?

Clearing is a fantastic backup option if you didn’t get the grades required to attend the university of your choice. It’s also a useful tool in many other circumstances. These can include:

You’re interested in a different course – you may have become more aware of a different career you want to pursue and an alternative degree might be required

You’ve changed your mind – feelings can change from your first university application and that’s completely fine! You might not want to move away from home and need to look for a closer university or vice versa.

No previous offers – Clearing is a useful tool to use if you don’t currently hold any offers.

Unsure about university – Don’t worry! Everyone has their doubts and it’s such a big step in your life so if you decided to wait until Clearing and you now know that this is the right route for you.

Better grades than you expected – Well done you! If you receive better grades than what you expected then that’s brilliant. You can now apply for a different course or university that requires higher grades. This can be done through UCAS Adjustment Service.

Clearing Open Days

Are you worried that you didn’t attend an Open Day for the university you’re considering through Clearing. Many students go to Open Days when choosing their first to fifth choice unis.

However, most universities now run Open Days for Clearing applicants. If there isn’t an Open Day event then don’t worry, you could always contact them and ask to look around prior to committing. Many universities also offer Virtual Open Days, so if the university you’re looking to commit to doesn’t have the option for you to attend an open day, you can still get a feel for the place by logging in online.

Declining Your Firm Offer

If you already hold an offer, but want to apply to a different university, you can do that. If this is the case, you will be able to release yourself through UCAS.

In past years, students would have to contact their chosen university to ask to be released prior to applying for an alternative uni. Now you can use UCAS Self-release to enable eligibility to Clearing. To do this you will need to:

Log into your Track account and decline your place using the button on your profile page. You will then be taken to a page which helps you to understand your actions and what this will mean. You’ll then complete a series of questions and confirm whether you want to release yourself into Clearing. Did you make a mistake? Phone UCAS immediately!

There are many advantages to self-release, you’ll no longer have to wait for universities to accept your request to enter Clearing. Instead, the power is in your hands! Clearing hotlines are extremely busy and you can spend a lot of time on hold but not this year.

Releasing yourself from your application isn’t something that should be done without deep consideration. Your existing university may not still be available should you change your mind. So make sure you are 100% certain of your decision.

UCAS Clearing Tips

Did you miss your grades? Before you do anything, contact your Firm and Insurance offer unis and explain the situation. They may still accept you. No luck? Take a breath. If you end up with no offers, give yourself time to feel that disappointment, get some hugs in, have a small cry, whatever you need. No shame in it. Then dust yourself off and hit the phones: thousands of people get to uni through Clearing every year, so you can as well.

Be calm, be courteous, be confident: the people on the end of the phone want to help you find a place Don’t worry if you’re not sure about anything: unis are very good at this and have experts on hand to advise you Get input from your school, parents and friends. You’re making big decisions, it’s fine to get help John Morrison, MA Guidance and Professional Studies is a Career Adviser at Aquinas College who supports students on A Level/BTEC results day when they are seeking university courses through UCAS Clearing. John says, ‘Students have clearly benefited from using the careers service during this time. Clearing is also another opportunity to look at universities should you wish to review your choice of courses.

You may be on the phone for some time as you contact universities, so ensure you are drinking water and eating nice things such as pieces of fruit to keep you alert. You may have to answer some questions from the University’s Admissions or academic department of the course you are applying for. Have the university course profile website available and your personal statement to help you think about why you want to study the course.

It can be a stressful day as you may have to make quick decisions so it can be really useful to talk to someone about your options. Therefore it is definitely advisable to use your careers service in order to support you in finding the right course for you. It would also be advisable to find out in advance how your careers service plans to support students on results day, especially if you are unable to go into your College/School on the day. The UCAS website also has a section on clearing and you should familiarise yourself with in it advance.

If you are successful in gaining an offer from a university, make sure you can access some form of evidence of this offer, possibly asking the University Clearing Team for a confirmation email on the day. Best of luck!’

Direct Contact Service

UCAS also offer a direct contact service which was created to help you find a uni place. If you sign up universities will contact you during Clearing if they feel they have a course suited to you.

Applying for Student Finance or Making Amendments

When applying through Clearing, it’s important to remember that you need to apply for your student loan – if you haven’t already done so. If you’ve already applied for funding but have made amendments to your course or university then you’ll need to update your Student Finance application. You should do this as soon as you have your confirmed university place. Log into the GOV.UK – Student Finance portal, go to the ‘Your Account’ section, click on ‘Change your Application’ then select the option to change your university or course.

If you haven’t already submitted a Student Finance application then you will need to apply as soon as possible to ensure you get the loan before your course starts. You can head over to the GOV.UK website and apply online. Student Finance will do their best to ensure that you receive your finance support prior to the start of your course, however, you may not receive all of your funding in time. If this is the case, you can contact your university and keep them updated.

What to Do If Clearing Doesn't Work Out?

If you decide against applying through Clearing you can always look into other options. You might decide to take a gap year and revise your plan at a later date. You might also decide to get your first job, volunteer or even resit your A Level exams and apply again next year. Additionally, if you’re looking for a different pathway you might want to look into degree apprenticeships. A degree apprenticeship combines hands-on training and off-the-job learning enabling you to work towards a degree qualification while earning.


If you’re worried about results day, don’t be! We understand that this is easier said than done but there are plenty of options through Clearing and Adjustment. Think of this as a big achievement in your life and enjoy it regardless of the outcome!

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