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UCAS Clearing 2021: A step-by-step-guide for students

UCAS Clearing 2021
Students at the London Academy of Excellence Tottenham (LAET) embrace after receiving their A-Level results in north London on August 10, 2021. Source: Justin Tallis/AFP

Didn’t receive your dream acceptance letter this year? Fear not, UCAS Clearing 2021 is here with a second chance. Ever felt the frustration of not being able to take matters into your own hands while playing the waiting game? Finally, it is your time to quickly nab an undergraduate spot at a UK university – the same way thousands have over the last few years. 

If you’ve been vying for a UK education, you probably already know what UCAS (the Universities and College Admissions Service) is and the role it plays in the process. 

Clearing is a huge part of its process, held around every July  to October. It matches graded students with available university spots that were once filled. Students who have not met the entry requirements for their chosen course, or have yet to receive an acceptance letter, are automatically eligible.

Who is open to? Virtually anyone awaiting an undergraduate offer from a UK institution. International students are welcomed as well, provided that their original applications were made through UCAS.

UCAS Clearing 2021

People sit at tables outside a cafe in central London. Source: Tolga Akmen/AFP

As simple as it sounds, the right preparation is key if you wish to be successful this time around in achieving the UK education of your dreams, especially if it is your first time applying for UCAS Clearing in 2021. Here’s a step-by-step Clearing guide on doing so:

Check your eligibility for UCAS Clearing 2021

As mentioned, if you’re not holding an offer from a university or college (or none that were among your first few choices), Clearing is at your disposal. It is also a good way for students who did not meet the conditions of their offers to get new ones. Additionally, if you’ve paid the multiple choice application fee of 26 pounds, and received updated examination results, you’re good to go.

Log on to Track 

After July 5, if you are holding an unconditional palace, you can release yourself into Clearing to hopefully speed up the process. To do so, you will need to log on to Track – an online system developed by UCAS that allows you to check the process of your application once you’ve submitted it.

Once you’re logged in, hit the “decline your place” button. If your advisor is all for it and you’re sure you would rather hustle through UCAS Clearing than wait any longer for acceptance, this is the choice for you. 

Get to searching

UCAS’s search tool is the best way to find an official vacancy list. It is also constantly updated. That said, if you don’t immediately find what you’re looking for, hit refresh after an hour or two has passed. Universities update their course information just as regularly. 

It is also important to remember that if you have a specific course in mind, but are pressed for time, you could always keep a lookout for joint honours courses that are somewhat in-line with your initial goals. 

Identify your Clearing number, UCAS Personal ID, and pick up the phone

These can also be found in Track. You will need this information on hand when reaching out to institutions you wish to gain placement at. 

UCAS suggests speaking to them directly (as opposed to having someone else do it for you) to get all the information you will need to make your choice. For starters, try to determine your chances of getting accepted or if they might be willing to reconsider you (if you’ve applied to their university or college) before. Remember that the higher ranked the university, the quicker slots are filled so you will want to get started ASAP. 

UCAS Clearing 2021

A customer warms her hands on a pavement heater outside a pub in the Soho area of London. Source: Tolga Akmen/AFP

Think of these conversations as an interview. Oftentimes, officers might just ask about your grades and details. However, some might throw in some difficult questions to see how well-suited you are to join them. Pro tip: you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared with answers. Of course, you should do your research on the institution you’re reaching out to. 

While you’re at it, be sure to get basic information on the programme, accommodation options, and anything else you’re curious about. In most cases, they would be happy to provide you with links that would help you get a better feel of their campus and offerings. 

If you’re having trouble getting them on the line, send an email.

Add your Clearing choice on Track 

Once you’ve received a verbal offer, or several, from the universities or colleges you’ve spoken to – you will need to only confirm one as your final choice. Sign back into your UCAS Track account when you have made your decision, and add the Clearing course. 

Give it time and the university will confirm the offer. Soon after, your account should read “Clearing accepted.”