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A guide to clearing

Not got the grades you expected? Don't panic!

The first thing to do when you know you need to go through Clearing is to stay focused. There are lots of sources of information out there about the Clearing process and course vacancies. Keep calm, read our guide to clearing and you’ll get onto the degree course you want.

Want to learn more about the clearing process? Click below to find out more:

The first thing to do is to contact the course of your choice that made the offer you accepted and confirmed. If you have missed the required grades by a small amount you may still get in, but you must phone early (preferably on the day you receive your results – this is a race, remember).

Get initial verbal confirmation as to whether your results are acceptable or not. If not, ask the course to confirm in writing that your application has failed, but relax as you do not have to wait for the letter.

If your application has failed as a result of poorer than expected grades, then you need to start looking for new courses. This may include some of the courses you applied to before, or some new ones that you hadn’t previously considered. Use all of the press and other sources. Don’t forget the UCAS site or other websites. If you did research earlier in the year when filling out your original UCAS application, then go back to it. If you have not applied before, then you need to start choosing what courses you might wish to apply to.


The UCAS site will have a full listing of course vacancies available through Clearing, from the start of Results Day.

Check ‘Track’ on the UCAS website to see if you're eligible to use Clearing. If you are, an 'Add Clearing choice' button will appear on your Track 'choices' screen - you can use this to apply for a course.

The lists on the UCAS website are updated continually, but not all universities, colleges and courses have vacancies in Clearing, and some vacancies may be filled very quickly. There is no guarantee that places will be available on any particular course. At the same time, a course that is full may have vacancies later. 

If you declined an offer from a university or college earlier in the year you can contact it again to see if they will accept you in Clearing, either for the same course or any other.

Your Clearing Number is displayed on the 'welcome' page and 'choices' page in Track. When you contact a university or college they will ask for your Clearing Number to confirm that they can consider you in Clearing. They can then view your complete application immediately on the UCAS secure online system.

When you are speaking to different universities and colleges, you may be informally offered several places. You will need to decide which offer you want to accept.

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 Track. If you want to be formally considered, you need to click on your 'Add Clearing choice' button and enter the institution and course details. You can only enter details for one choice. 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. If you enter a Clearing choice without discussing it with the university or college, this may delay the progress of your application.


A variety of other media will be producing clearing information, particularly the quality national newspapers. All UK clearing vacancies are regularly published between mid August and mid September.

Use the telephone

At this stage of the game, the telephone is your best friend. Even if relevant members of staff at the universities are not there at the exact time you call, you can find out when they are expected as well as get their email address from the relevant department/course office.

Thousands of students go through the Clearing process every year, the overwhelming majority quickly finding suitable courses at universities that they might not have even considered before.  So - DO NOT PANIC! You’ll get there. Good luck!
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