Every year, many students miss the grades for their conditional offer and find themselves without a university or college place.
If this happens to you, don't worry. You may still be able to secure a higher education place through clearing. Clearing is a process that operates between mid July and September.
If you've only just missed your grades, contact the university or college that offered you the conditional place. There may still be opportunities on your preferred course. If the course is not full, there may be room for negotiation regarding your grades. If the university or college that gave you a conditional offer still cannot offer you a place, then you can turn to the clearing system.
If you have not received any offers, your offers have not been confirmed or you have declined the courses on your UCAS form, you may be able to take part in Clearing. You will need to check your online UCAS application form using 'Track' to see if you are eligible for Clearing as UCAS will not contact you to advise this. If you are eligible for Clearing an 'Add Clearing choice' button will appear on your Track 'choices' screen which you can use to apply for a course.
If you have difficulties accessing the UCAS website to review your application form, or have any questions about the clearing process, you can contact the UCAS Customer Service team on 0871 468 0468. See the 'Further information' section below for more details.
UCAS have introduced the Adjustment process for students who receive better grades than they expected. It provides an opportunity for you to consider what and where you would like to study. You can find out more about the Adjustment Process and whether you are eligible on the UCAS website. The adjustment process is available for a short time from A-Level results day.
Follow the advice below to take you through the process.
Talk through your ideas and options with a careers adviser or Connexions adviser at your school, college or local careers office. They can help you decide which courses and subjects would be most suitable for you. You don't have to stick to the subject choices you made originally - there may be other areas which might suit you better.
Course vacancies throughout the UK are published on the UCAS website and in The Telegraph newspaper after the A level results have been published. The lists are updated continually, but not all universities, colleges and courses have vacancies in Clearing, and some vacancies fill up quickly! Unfortunately there is no guarantee that places will be available on any particular course but things change and a course that appears full may have vacancies later. Keep checking the vacancy list to see the latest information.
Look through the details and record the names of the courses you're interested in. Check that you meet the minimum requirements of the courses. These will be listed in the vacancy information. Think of all the questions you have about the course and why you are interested in the course. Make a list of what qualities you will bring to the course. You need this information for the next step - contacting the admissions tutor for the course.
If a university or college provisionally offers you a place in Clearing, they will give you a date by which you must enter their course details on the UCAS 'Track' system. If you want to be formally considered, you need to select the 'Add Clearing choice' button and enter the course details. You can only enter details for one choice so only enter a Clearing choice if the university or college has provisionally offered you a place on the course and you want to accept it.
Melanie, 24, from Wigan, applied for courses at several places during her A Levels. When she visited the universities shortly before getting her results, she started to have second thoughts. On the day of her A Level results, Melanie was disappointed that she hadn't received the grades to get into any of the universities she preferred:
"I found out that I had actually got the grades to get into a large university in the heart of a busy city. My heart sank as this no longer suited what had become very important requirements. At the time I applied mobility was not such a problem, so I was leaving my options open. Looking back, perhaps I should have taken more care and chosen all campus universities just in case.
My mum, who always backs me in my decisions, started to realise that I was going off the idea of university completely. But she'd read that there can still be good quality university places available, because people turn down their first choices. It doesn't mean that the universities or courses are inferior - but to get a place, you do have to go through the clearing system.
Mum asked me if I had thought about declining the offer and trying to go through clearing to get a place at a campus university instead. I hadn't really considered this as an option. But I found out that when you decline an offer, you get sent a form and can then apply to a different university. I felt so much better and optimistic!"
Melanie and her mum immediately got to work researching possible places:
"When I found a college that looked like it would suit me, I rang them up and asked if could visit to discuss the possibility of me studying there. They were helpful and suggested I came down to look around.
We met with the disability adviser. They could tell that my main worry was where I would be living, so they showed me a small annexe connected to the university with a private bathroom. I thought that was a good compromise. I loved the feel of the university, it was not as far away from home as the one I had first got into and everyone was really friendly. I am now a minute's walk from the entrance to the university and not too far away from the seaside, which also suits me because I am getting out and about and love taking part in sailing at the weekends!
Don't worry if you don't get your grades - you will probably get a place through clearing and will end up having lots of fun at university!"
Find out more about clearing at Gov.uk university clearing through UCAS page or through the UCAS website. If you have difficulties accessing the UCAS website to complete your application form, or have any questions about the clearing process, you can contact the UCAS Customer Service team on 0871 468 0468, Monday to Friday, 08:30-18:00 (UK time) and calls from UK BT landline will cost no more than 9p per minute. Calls from mobiles and other networks may vary.