If the new academic year is about to start and you have no university offer or haven’t even applied for any courses yet, UCAS Clearing is the perfect solution. Find out in this post how you can apply and get an offer in Clearing.


Help me understand: What exactly is UCAS Clearing?

UCAS Clearing tips for international students

Ok, the basics first.  In the UK, you would usually apply for an undergraduate course from September – January for courses that start in the autumn (I say ‘usually’ because many courses continue to take international applications after the 15 January UCAS deadline).

Clearing happens mid-August – so, just a few weeks before courses start. That’s roughly when most students in the UK get their school results.  As they find out if they’ve made the grades of their university offers, UCAS is their last opportunity to get a new offer if they lose their place.


Clearing sounds useful.  Can I apply?

UCAS Clearing tips for international students

You can apply in Clearing if you have already applied to university but have no offer. Either because you got rejected by all your university choices, you didn’t make the grades of your conditional offer(s) or you didn’t accept any offers.

Anyone applying to UCAS after 30 June, gets put in Clearing automatically.

You can’t apply in Clearing if:

  • You have a university offer that’s still valid, or
  • You are still waiting for a decision on an application with a university

Although… in both cases you could still apply in Clearing if you decline your offer(s) / withdraw your application.


Right, ready to go.  Can I apply right now?

UCAS Clearing tips for international students

Clearing started in July and will go on until September.  Although most students in the UK won’t apply until 18 August, remember they’re only waiting for their A-level (school leaving) results to be published.  If you have your school results already and have seen in UCAS ‘Track’ that you’re in Clearing (see next section), don’t wait – apply away.


So, how to apply for a course in Clearing?

UCAS Clearing tips for international students

There are four steps:

Step 1:  Complete the application on the UCAS website.  In ‘Track’ (the UCAS online system) look for a message telling you “You’re in Clearing” and look for your ‘Clearing ID’.

Step 2:  The university can only make you an unconditional offer so make sure you already have your school results and, if you need one, also your English language certificate.

Step 3:  Look for courses that are available in Clearing (see next point).

Step 4:  Once you’ve found a course you like, call the university to apply.  The call is your ‘Clearing Interview‘ – based on the interview the university will decide whether to make you an offer.


How to find out which courses are available in Clearing?

UCAS Clearing tips for international students

If you have no idea where to apply, the best place to look for Clearing courses is the UCAS course search tool.  Or you could use the Daily Telegraph website, though I didn’t think it was as easy.

If you know some universities already, look on their websites. Those that take part in Clearing (not all universities do), will usually have a link from their home page to further information.  If you’re not sure if the university does have courses in Clearing, you could call their admissions office.


The Clearing interview sounds scary… What can I expect?

UCAS Clearing tips for international students

When you call to apply, you’ll usually speak to the Admissions Tutor.  He or she won’t have your UCAS application.  How can they make you an offer without knowing who you are, what you do and why you’re interested in their course? Help them make you an offer by answering their questions.

The Clearing interview is your chance to get an offer – prepare to say why you’re interested in the course and why the university should be interested in you.

My tip is that you prepare by going over the things that you’d usually cover in the UCAS personal statement.  Prepare to answer questions about your qualifications and why you’ve picked that subject / that course / that university.   Think about what makes you a good applicant and be ready to convince the university to choose you.  Write down a couple of questions to ask the Admissions Tutor, for example about the course and the university – it shows you’re interested.


What will happen after the Clearing interview?

UCAS Clearing tips for international students

If the Admissions Tutor makes you an offer and you’re happy to accept this offer, you do this by adding the course as a ‘Clearing choice’ in UCAS Track.  You will need to give the Admissions Tutor your Clearing ID so he or she can view your UCAS application online and can confirm the offer to UCAS.

Only enter a Clearing course on Track if the Admissions Tutor has made you an offer – and you want to accept this offer.

Once you add a Clearing choice in Track, you can’t add another one.  So make sure you only add a Clearing choice that you have an offer for.  And then only if you want to accept it.  If you don’t have the offer or you change your mind, you’ll have to ask the university to ‘release you back into Clearing’.  This can take time – and you could miss your chance to get apply to another Clearing course.


UCAS Clearing could be the most useful thing to happen to you – if you’re planning to start university this year and you still don’t have an offer.

Although the main Clearing even won’t kick off until 18 August this year, you can apply right now if you’re in Clearing and already have your school results.

Look for Clearing vacancies on the UCAS or university websites.  Before you call the university to apply for a Clearing course, prepare in advance the information that will help the admissions staff make you an offer.

Remember, the course may only have very few places available in Clearing, so this is your chance to impress the Admissions Tutor – and to convince them to make you the Clearing offer.

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