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HomeWorld NewsDemystifying the UCAS Clearing Process: A Step-by-Step Guide

Demystifying the UCAS Clearing Process: A Step-by-Step Guide

The transition from high school to university is a significant milestone in any student’s life. But what happens when you don’t secure a place through your initial UCAS application? This is where the UCAS Clearing process comes into play. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the intricacies of the UCAS Clearing process, helping you navigate this crucial journey smoothly.

Understanding UCAS Clearing

What Is UCAS Clearing?

UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, is the central body in the UK responsible for managing university applications. UCAS Clearing, also known as the Clearing process, is a system that allows students who haven’t secured a university place to find alternative options.

When Does UCAS Clearing Occur?

UCAS Clearing usually opens in July and runs through September. It’s most commonly used by students who have not received any offers or have declined all their offers.

Preparing for UCAS Clearing

Assess Your Options

Before diving into UCAS Clearing, it’s crucial to assess your situation and consider your options. Think about your course preferences, location, and the universities you’re interested in. This will help streamline the process.

Contact Universities

Research the universities you’re interested in and get in touch with their admissions teams. Be prepared with your qualifications, personal statement, and reasons for wanting to study at that particular institution.

Have Your Details Ready

Gather all necessary documents, including your UCAS ID, A-level results, and any correspondence from universities. Having everything ready will make the process smoother.

The UCAS Clearing Process

Step 1: Register on UCAS

The first step is to create a UCAS account if you don’t have one already. This account will be essential for managing your Clearing application.

Step 2: Search for Courses

Once registered, you can search for available courses through the UCAS Clearing search tool. You can filter by course type, location, and other preferences.

Step 3: Contact Universities

When you find a course that interests you, contact the university directly. Be prepared for a brief interview, during which you’ll discuss your qualifications and motivations for applying.

Step 4: Receive Offers

If the university is interested, they may provide you with a conditional offer. This means you’ll need to meet certain criteria, often related to your exam results.

Step 5: Accept an Offer

Once you receive an offer, you can accept it through your UCAS account. Remember, you can only hold one offer at a time in Clearing, so make sure you’re certain before confirming.

Step 6: Confirm Your Place

After accepting an offer, UCAS will update your status, and you’ll be officially enrolled in your chosen course.

Tips for a Successful UCAS Clearing Experience

  1. Stay Informed: Keep track of Clearing openings and deadlines. Make sure you’re aware of the key dates, especially if you’re keen on specific courses or universities.

  2. Be Prepared: Have all your documents and information ready in advance, so you can quickly respond to any university inquiries.

  3. Stay Positive: Clearing can be a stressful time, but maintain a positive attitude. Remember that many students successfully secure places through this process.

  4. Consider Alternatives: Be open to exploring new courses or universities. You might discover an exciting opportunity you hadn’t previously considered.

  5. Seek Guidance: Don’t hesitate to seek advice from teachers, career advisors, or UCAS itself. They can provide valuable insights and support.

UCAS Clearing Myths Debunked

Myth 1: Clearing Is Only for Underachievers

Clearing is not exclusively for students with lower grades. Many high-achieving students use Clearing to switch courses or universities, or if they change their mind about their original choices.

Myth 2: It’s Too Late for the Best Courses

While some popular courses may fill up quickly, there are still excellent opportunities available through Clearing. Don’t assume that you’ll only be left with the least desirable options.

Myth 3: Clearing Is a Last Resort

Clearing is a legitimate part of the application process, and many successful students have found their ideal courses and universities through Clearing.


The UCAS Clearing process is a lifeline for students who, for various reasons, need to reconsider their university choices. It offers a second chance to find the right course and institution. By understanding the process and following the steps outlined in this guide, you can confidently navigate UCAS Clearing and embark on a successful academic journey.