UCAS Clearing 2024: What to expect and how to prepare

Karis Nash  · Apr 26th 2024  · 8 min

You can still apply to university! If you’ve just missed out on a spot at uni or have decided the course you chose is no longer right for you, this is what UCAS Clearing is for!


Results Day is nearly here and if you're worried you might not have the grades you need or if you've had a change of heart about your uni choice, then today is your chance to see what else is available!

If you don't hold an offer from a university ahead of Results Day, you can apply to a course through Clearing from July 5th. You'll also have plenty of time before Results Day (August 15th) to book yourself onto some Clearing Open Days.

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What is Clearing?

UCAS Clearing helps you find a university course after you've received your results.

If you miss out on the required grades for the courses you've applied to, you'll automatically be placed into Clearing. If you decide you'd like to change your course, you'll be able to access Clearing too.

Throughout Clearing the most important thing to remember is not to panic. Instead, think of it as another opportunity to search around for the perfect course for you.

When does Clearing open for 2024?

For this year, most Clearing places will be available to apply to from A-Level Results Day and BTEC Results Day. This falls on Thursday 15th August 2024. When you log onto your UCAS hub, you'll see the option to enter Clearing.

While the majority of Clearing courses will be available from this date, some will be open anywhere from the 5th of July. If you wish to go to university but missed the original deadline, you can apply to universities through Clearing after you've received your results. Clearing is then open until the 21st October at 6pm, but places are only available until the course is filled, so best not to wait!

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How can I prepare for Clearing?

Unfortunately, no one can be certain about how Results Day will go. You may achieve the grades you need, be offered a spot on an alternative course, or not be accepted into your chosen university. Because of the many possibilities, it's good to be prepared for any outcome on Results Day.

If you do find yourself automatically placed into the Clearing system, we recommend going through the process as soon as possible to ensure you get a spot on your chosen course.

You can start your research into alternative courses and universities before Results Day - this will speed up your decision making later on! Note down the course number, course title, grade boundaries and admissions number. It's also good to make yourself aware of any Clearing helplines or contacts for the universities you wish to apply to. Downloading the Clearing app will also help!

How does Clearing work?

If you didn't receive any offers, missed out on your firm or insurance, or applied for uni after 30th June, you'll automatically be entered into Clearing. For those, who have changed their mind about their course or uni, you'll have to go through the self-release process.

What is self-release?

Self-release allows you to decline the offer you received on Results Day and releases you into Clearing. To do this, you'll need to decline your offer on your UCAS Hub before you start applying for a Clearing course.

Take your time to consider this option as you won't be guaranteed a place through Clearing, and it's unlikely your original offer will still be there if you change your mind.

How to add a Clearing choice

For those who missed out on a place, the status on your UCAS application will automatically signal that ‘You are in Clearing' or that ‘Clearing has Started'.

To apply for any Clearing courses you'll need to contact the university you're interested in directly. Any universities who have Clearing spaces will be listed on UCAS Clearing and can easily be filtered by course type, location and university. If you receive a verbal offer from the university, you'll need to add it to your UCAS Hub. To do this, navigate to the ‘Your choices' section on Hub and click ‘Add Clearing choice'. Here, simply fill in the new course details. Once the university has confirmed your place in the Hub, the spot is yours!

To apply through Clearing, the university will need your Clearing number and personal ID, so make sure you have this on hand!

You're only able to add one UCAS Clearing course choice at a time. If you don't get offered a place, you'll need to find another course and start again.

Throughout the process, the most important thing to remember is not to panic. Instead, think of it as another opportunity to find the perfect course for you! Uni Compare will be on hand for Clearing, with direct lines to the universities we list in our Clearing course search.

What is Clearing Plus?

Clearing Plus is a tool set up by UCAS to match you with the perfect course! Searching through the Clearing list for the right course to apply for can be tedious, but Clearing Plus speeds up the process.

UCAS takes what they know about you from your application, and what they know about the type of students that universities are looking for, to pair you with the ideal course. Universities will tell UCAS what courses they'd like to make available through Clearing Plus and the entry requirements for them. If UCAS thinks you'd be a good fit for a particular Clearing place, and you show interest in it, then the university can contact you. Don't worry, you're still able to access the full Clearing list if you're going through Clearing Plus.

Not everyone is eligible for Clearing Plus. If you're unsuccessful with your original application, or you're applying to university for the first time directly through Clearing, then you'll see the ‘See matches' button on your account.

Are there Clearing open days?

Before the Clearing window opens, you have a chance to visit the potential Clearing universities. Many universities run Clearing open days, so even if you've submitted your choices, you're able to explore other options even after the UCAS deadline.

If the university you'd like to apply for doesn't offer an open day, you may still be able to arrange a visit - give them a ring and see if they can show you round! For those finding the university on Results Day, it can be a quick turnaround in choosing your course, however, if you want to visit before firming up your choice, this may be an option. Talk to the uni directly and see if they'll allow a visit before you confirm the place with them.

Which UK universities have Clearing?

Not all universities offer Clearing. Universities such as the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford don't offer Clearing for students as a matter of policy, but this doesn't mean that no Russell Group universities have Clearing spaces. Specialist universities or institutes tend not to offer courses in Clearing.

It's also not always the same universities that offer Clearing spaces each year - it will depend on the number of students with offers they've already received and the courses with places still available.

Search all university clearing courses for 2024 on Uni Compare

How do I get student finance after Clearing?

Once your uni place has been accepted through Clearing, don't forget about your student loan!

If you've previously applied but have now changed course or university, you'll need to let Student Finance know. Updating your details is simple and should be done sooner rather than later to ensure you receive the correct amount.

  • First go to GOV.UK - Student Finance and log into your account
  • Find ‘Your Account’
  • Select ‘Change Your Application’
  • Select ‘University/College and Course’

Make sure you apply to Student Finance as soon as you can - it will save you a headache later! If you're applying closer to the Clearing deadline, you may need to wait a little longer before receiving your loan. Universities will be used to situations like this so, if you're worried, it's worth talking to your uni to see how they can help.

Our tips for UCAS Clearing 2024!

  • Be prepared - make sure you have all your information to hand, such as your exam results and personal statement.
  • Act fast - Clearing places are in high demand, so contact universities as soon as possible.
  • Be flexible - you may need to consider alternative courses or universities if your first choice isn't available.
  • Stay positive - Clearing can be stressful, but remember that there are still plenty of opportunities available.

We know Clearing isn't where you want to be, but it's all worth it to secure you place at university. Good luck!

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