UK University Clearing Guide 2020

July 2020 by


A-Level results day is on its way and of course, everyone is hoping to receive the grades they wanted. Hopefully, you manage to get exactly what you were hoping for but sometimes that isn’t the case. If you’re planning on going to university and you’re worried about getting a place on the course you want, it’s important to know you always have other options. University clearing gives you a second chance to get into university – so don’t give up! You might want to explore your clearing options if:

  • You didn’t receive the required grades for your firm and insurance choices.
  • Your grades are better than expected and you think you could receive a better offer.
  • You didn’t receive any offers from universities.
  • You’ve changed your mind on the course you’d like to study.
  • You have decided you no longer want to go to the university you’ve chosen.

So when does clearing start?

If you’re considering clearing it’s important to know that it is officially open! However, due to A-Level results day being in mid-August most places aren’t available till after this time, so you may not be able to see all of your options yet! It’s also important to note that you are automatically put into clearing if you didn’t receive an offer or failed to meet the grades required for your course.

How do you release your place at university?

Self-releasing is when you choose to put yourself into clearing and release yourself from your firm choice. By doing this, it means you can choose a place at a different university once you receive your results. However, it’s important to note that if you decide to release yourself, there is no guarantee the original university will hold your place in case you change your mind. You will also need to reapply for accommodation and update student finance if you’re receiving funding. If this is something to consider, it’s important you are definite on your decision. You will have been able to self-release from the 6th of July and you do so through UCAS. Here’s how:

  • Sign in to your UCAS Track account.
  • Then click the ‘decline my place’ button on your profile.
  • You’ll then be directed to a page which explains self-releasing.
  • You will be asked to complete a few questions before confirming your decision.
  • You’ll then receive a confirmation email about being in clearing.

Make sure you are confident with the decision you’re making – you don’t want to make a mistake!

How do you apply through clearing?

If you’ve decided clearing is the route for you, the next step is finding out how to apply! The best way to find out about open spaces is to check with UCAS or the website of the university you’d like to apply to and then contact them. If there is space they will usually offer it to you on the spot, so be prepared for snap decisions! To prepare yourself, we suggest:

  • Making a list of the courses you’re interested in so you’re prepared.
  • Making sure you’ve got time on results day to apply for clearing. You don’t want to miss out, so log onto UCAS as soon as you’ve received your results!
  • Make sure to check out the official clearing listings that are available on both university websites and also UCAS, an “add clearing option” will appear if you’re eligible for a course.
  • Make sure to keep your clearing number nearby for any calls you may receive. You don’t want to be in a panic! Stay cool and collected, you’ve got this.
  • Make sure to keep trying to contact the appropriate people for clearing. You can email as well as phone if you’re struggling to get through, phone lines may be busy!
  • Make sure to check out similar alternative courses to give yourself more options. You can never have too many to fall back on!

So what do you need for clearing?

  • Your UCAS number
  • Your clearing number
  • Your A-Level grades and GCSE grades (or equivalent)
  • Your total UCAS points


If you decide to contact a university directly via phone call, speak to them professionally as if it were a job interview! It’s likely going to be your first and last chance to impress them, so you want to make a good impression.

They will be asking you why you have now decided you want a space on their course, and why you didn’t receive your predicted grades. So make sure you’re familiar with the specifications of the course, as questions about it could pop up. A great saying once said, if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail!

Hopefully, this has given you a good idea on how to manage the clearing process. A-Level results day can be stressful for everyone so don’t worry too much because you always have options! Everything will work out just fine, just don’t forget to re-book accommodation and update student finance – you don’t want to be left without somewhere to stay after all of your hard work! Best of luck!



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