What you need to know
Loud's Clearing Guide is Available on the Website on the 13th of August
Hopefully you won't have to go through clearing, but assuming you'll be fine could be harmful to your university aspirations; get to know the process and make it easier on the day for yourself.
Clearing is the procedure whereby you can bypass the normal university application system by ringing their clearing hotline and find out if there are any places left on your desired course. Universities have a set amount of people predetermined for each course who are given conditional offers, so if prospective students don't meet the conditions then the university may have some places left. They cannot accurately guess how many students will meet the conditional offers, so clearing allows the university to fill those missed places.
You can use clearing to pick a suitable undergraduate course if you didn't get the grades that you were expecting, would like to alter your course or university or haven't applied to university at all and would now like to attend for the upcoming year.
If you fall into any of these categories on the 'big day' then remember these tips:
•Be patient. You might be waiting some time before anyone picks up the phone. However the phone operators are talking to other callers, editing the database and referring callers to lecturers; don't think that during this waiting time a place on your course will be taken, just keep calm and be ready to talk when they answer.
•Prepare what you want to say and make some notes to ensure that you communicate well when you get through to an operator.
•Be sure about what course you're asking for, even if you are asking for the availability of more than one course, such as 'Law' and 'Law and Criminology'.
•UCAS have an official vacancy list online so that you can identify which universities have what courses left. Whilst this is very useful, it's not a reason to hang up the phone if your course disappears because it cannot be kept accurate at all times. Courses can also appear back on the list if students with an offer decide to release their place and go elsewhere: this will be happening all through the day, hence the fluctuation in course availability.
•If you have achieved the grades to go to your first choice but would actually like to go to another university then make sure there is a place at the other university before 'releasing' your first choice.
•When you get through to an operator they will originally ask for some personal details, look at your record and determine if you're eligible to go through clearing.
•If you are suitable and your course of interest is available then you are likely to be transferred through to someone related to that course for the university: be it a lecturer or someone from admissions.
•This is then when you will be talking to them about why you want to join the course. It's an informal interview, but an interview nonetheless. Remember to show you passion for the subject and your awareness of their course. If you don't know what makes their course different to another university then you're not showing enthusiasm for their offer, instead you're portraying a desire to study the subject regardless of the location. It's easy enough to check the university's course on their website.
•In the majority of cases you will be told on the phone whether they're willing to accept you. After receiving an offer remember to add the details of the institution and course into UCAS Track.
•If the offer is based on your GCSEs then most universities need to see them before confirming your clearing offer.
•If you believe you've been unfairly declined a place then check the university's complaints policy; it would usually be via their admissions team.
•Universities often have someone to talk to candidates who walk in to discuss clearing, so ring their main number first and check. If you're local then visiting the university could be quicker than ringing them.
Kayleigh Gray is a recent English Literature graduate from Sheffield Hallam University and is currently undertaking a Graduate Management Development Programme, also at Sheffield Hallam University.