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How can I apply for a university course on the day of the A-level results? What is my clearing number?


A-level results day falls on Thursday 17 August, ending a seemingly endless wait for students anxious to learn how they fared in their exams.

This year, entrants have been warned that the results will return to something like 2019 levels, after several years of higher grades caused by Covid-19 pandemic measures.

It is thought that this will lead to sharp rise in pupils appealing their grades, as well as potentially meaning many students don’t get the grades they need to take up their preferred university or college places.

If that happens to you, then there’s no need to worry, as there are plenty of options available, such as Ucas Clearing – essentially a late application round for students.

Clearing offers a perfect opportunity for anybody who missed out on their first-choice spot, while also giving universities the chance to fill spaces they still have left on their courses.

In order to apply for a university course through clearing, you will need to have your Ucas number, your personal details and your clearing number.

Ucas advises that if you are eligible, your clearing number will show under the “application status” section of your application on Ucas Hub.

If you can’t see that you have a clearing number, Ucas advises: “If your application doesn’t say ‘You are in clearing’ or ‘clearing has started’ it might just be waiting for your results to update.

“Get in touch with the universities/colleges if it’s taking a while – they might still be considering you, even if your results are a bit lower than required.”

BATH, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 20: A pupil from Hayesfield Sixth Form opens their A-level results at Hayesfield Girls School on August 20, 2009 in Bath, United Kingdom. Results published today for more than 310,000 students across England, Wales and Northern Ireland showed that a quarter of A-levels were graded an A as students across the UK celebrated another year of record results. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
A-level results day is on Thursday 17 August this year (Photo: Getty Images)

How do I apply for clearing?

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You can search for, and apply to, clearing courses on the Ucas website here.

Before you add a clearing choice in your application, you need to call the university and give them your clearing number – try to get informal offers over the phone.

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Once you have permission from a university and have decided on your clearing course, click “add clearing choice’” and fill in the course details on the Ucas website.

This counts as you definitely accepting the offer, so if they confirm, it will show as an acceptance on your “Choices” page in your application.

You can only add one choice at a time, but if the university/college doesn’t confirm your place, you’ll be able to add another.

Keep checking clearing regularly, as universities will not make all their places available at once.

When does clearing open?

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The 2023 clearing process has been open since Wednesday 5 July and will close on 17 October.

Once you are eligible for clearing, you will see a message on Ucas Hub on A-level results day, which will also give you your clearing number.

Who is eligible for clearing?

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You are eligible for clearing if:

  • you are applying to university after 30 June
  • you didn’t receive or accept any offers
  • you didn’t meet the conditions of your offers
  • you have chosen to decline your firm place using the “decline my place” button in Ucas Hub
  • you have paid the multiple choice application fee of £27

What is Clearing Plus?

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Ucas introduced a new tool in 2020 called Clearing Plus, designed to make it easier to find your perfect course.

It gives university courses a ranking score based on how relevant they are to a particular student, displaying the best matched courses at the top of a bespoke list.

According to Ucas: “We look at your original choices you applied for, combined with your qualifications and grades.

“Universities and colleges have already told us what courses they’d like to make available in Clearing Plus (no, not all courses are included in your matches), and the entry requirements for them. Then, we analyse what students in clearing went on to study in previous years.”

While students are also urged to search for course themselves before making a decision, and expressing an interest in a course does not guarantee a place, it is hoped that Clearing Plus can help candidates to cut through the thousands of options on offer.

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