Navigating Clearing for International Students: Process, Criteria, and Considerations

Ben Maples  · Jun 5th 2023  · 3 min

Embarking on a journey of higher education abroad is a dream shared by countless ambitious students around the world. With the allure of prestigious institutions, studying abroad has become an increasingly popular choice for international students.


This is where Clearing, a unique and transformative process, comes into play. Clearing is designed to provide opportunities for students who still need to secure a place at their preferred university or course. It offers a lifeline to those who may have missed out on their initial choices or are seeking alternative options.

Clearing is not just for UK students and has gradually expanded its scope to include international students, opening doors to various academic possibilities.

International Clearing

What is Clearing?

Clearing is a process for students who still need to get their university place sorted. Traditionally, Clearing is a service for students who have achieved lower results than expected. However, in recent years, it has become a new process for students who are looking to change their options regardless of their grades.

There is also a service called Clearing Plus. Clearing Plus is a service that allows students to find more personalised courses, which are carefully curated by UCAS and then presented based on previously chosen degrees.

When does Clearing start and end?

Clearing officially opens on Wednesday, the 5th of July, 2023. Clearing will officially close on Tuesday, the 17th of October, 2023.

Clearing has been known to extend to international students. This will depend on the institute you are applying to, the available courses and the accommodation they still have on hand. You will need to speak to the university directly to know if they will still accept late Clearing applications from international students.

International UCAS Clearing

Can international students use Clearing?

International students can use Clearing. Despite this, international students must meet specific criteria to use Clearing.

The criteria are:

  • Applied through UCAS at an earlier stage (including after 30 June).
  • Applied to a course before 30 June but wasn't made an offer.
  • Been rejected by their firm and insurance choices.
  • Paid the full application fee of £27 for two – five choices.
  • Qualified academically for a firm or insurance offer but decided not to take it up.

You must meet these criteria. Otherwise, you will be unable to use Clearing.

What was Adjustment?

Adjustment used to be the process that was opposite to Clearing. Under the old rules, Clearing was a process for those with lower grades to find a different course than the one they initially applied for.

Adjustment was when a student received better grades than expected and could apply for a better course or university.

Now, Adjustment has been moved to be a part of the Clearing process. Whether you have better or worse grades, all students will enter into Clearing. This is also now the process for students who wish to change their initial choices.

Clearing for international students

Is there a difference for international students in Clearing?

There are some differences. However, they will depend on where you are applying from. Some international students may need to have their student visa sorted before they apply through Clearing.

You may also be asked to sit a test beforehand. Some universities may require that you have an English language test such as the IELTS before you apply. This is not a requirement of all universities, however.

Another potential roadblock may be a university interview.

Not all universities will require interviews. However, you may be asked to attend one, either virtually or in person. This interview will give the university a chance to get to know you better and decide if they want to offer you a place or not.

Those taking the International Baccalaureate (IB) have a distinct advantage. The results for the IB are released before most UK students receive their GCSE and A-Level results, so you can enter Clearing a little earlier.

UCAS Clearing for international students

When are the International Baccalaureate results released?

The IB results are always released on the 5th of July of every year, without fail. Even if the 5th falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the results will still be released that day.

This coincides with the opening of Clearing. This often gives students the advantage of being ahead of UK students as their results will be released earlier.

Do I have to have a student visa before applying in the UK?

As stated above, most international students must have their visa sorted out beforehand. You may not necessarily need to have your visa sorted before you apply for courses, but you will need to have them in place before you begin your course.

Some universities may have different policies. Some may require that you have all legal documents set up before applying for the course, while others may stipulate that you have it in place before you start. Speak to the university to find out what their policy is.

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