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How does Clearing work? The UCAS Clearing 2021 Guide

15 July 2021

Each year tens of thousands of students get their university place through clearing.

Choosing which university to go to through clearing is an important decision, and it’s vital to make sure it’s the right one, both for your choice of degree and for the location of the university.

So, how does clearing work? For the best outcome, it’s important to undertake research and not rush into anything. To help you, we’ve put together a ‘How does clearing work the UCAS clearing 2021 guide’ to help you understand what clearing is and how to reach the best outcome for you.

What is clearing?

UCAS clearing presents another chance for you to find a place at uni if you have missed the deadline or didn’t make the grades you needed to get into your firm or insurance university choice.

Most universities will still have places available, and crucially, UCAS clearing will help applicants find and apply for those places across the UK.

Clearing also allows universities to fill up vacant spots on their courses, as they don’t want empty spots in their lecture theatres come September.

You can apply for a university place directly through clearing, even if you didn’t submit an application during the year.

What is clearing plus?

A relatively new addition from UCAS, Clearing Plus automatically suggests courses for you to apply for based on the qualifications and grades you have, as well as taking into account the courses you originally applied for.

Remember you don’t have to choose the courses presented to you by Clearing Plus, and you’ll still have access to the full selection of courses on offer, but it can act as a useful tool to point you in the right direction.

When does UCAS Clearing 2021 open?

UCAS clearing 2021 officially started on the 5th of July and will run to the 19th of October, but most clearing places won’t become available until Scottish Highers and A Level results day, which is 10th August 2021.

Most BTEC students will receive their results in the week beginning the 9th August 2021, so while you can start looking for courses now, you may wish to wait until after these dates to start looking to get the best choice.

It’s worth waiting to see before applying through clearing at the beginning of July 2021. You never know, you might have done better than you first thought. 

Some universities will still offer you a place if you missed the grades, especially if it’s just by one grade, so it’s best to know this information before deciding on clearing. 

However, once results are released, spots are snapped up quickly, with many getting filled immediately after results day. That’s not to say you won’t find the right course for you, but there may be fewer options to consider if you leave it until the last minute. 

Who can apply through UCAS clearing 2021?

To properly understand how clearing works, you’ll need to know the criteria. You can use clearing if any of the following apply:

  • You didn’t get the exam results or meet the entry requirements you needed to get into your firm or insurance choice universities
  • You didn’t receive any university offers or verbal offers
  • You missed the application deadline, or are applying after 30 June
  • You’ve changed your mind about the courses or universities you applied for, and want to apply for something different

If you’re unsure that the above are applicable to you, you can also check the UCAS website directly. If you are eligible for clearing you’ll see an ‘add clearing choice’ button on your UCAS Track Choices screen. 

Preparing for UCAS clearing 2021

No matter if you think you’ve nailed your exams, or you’re worried your exams didn’t go as well as you hoped, it’s important to prepare a backup plan of alternative courses, just in case.

As we mentioned earlier, clearing places are snapped up pretty fast once you’ve received your results, so it’s important to have a plan. Use the following as a starting point:

  • Make a list of some courses and universities you’d like to apply for (and try to order them by the level of preference)
  • Take note of the uni details in case you need to contact the universities and departments you’re interested in, you can often find these on the university website
  • Do some practice interviews, think about the courses you’re applying for and why you are passionate about them



Finding a course through UCAS clearing

While clearing can feel a little overwhelming, try not to let panic set in on results day. Many students make the mistake of taking any university place they can get, but try not to rush into something that isn’t right for you.

Taking some time before and after results day to decide what you want, and talking to your school or college’s career advisor can help too. 

Try to keep an open mind about the course and university. A lot of top universities will have clearing places to apply for, and they’ll get taken quickly, but it’s more important to choose somewhere that suits you and the course you want to do than picking based on honours.

What happens once you’ve got your place?

Once you’ve chosen a place in UCAS clearing, the next challenge is to decide on university accommodation and student finance.

Novel offers student accommodation in Sheffield, Edinburgh and Glasgow, with living options built to suit your lifestyle. Whether you are a social butterfly or prefer the tranquillity of your own space, Novel has something to suit all students.

Find the perfect accommodation for you today. 

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