University clearing 2020: how to apply for university and college courses through UCAS clearing - and how to check what’s available

Thousands of Scottish pupils had their grades downgraded despite no exams being sat

Pupils in Scotland received their exam results on Tuesday morning (Getty Images)
Pupils in Scotland received their exam results on Tuesday morning (Getty Images)

Admissions body UCAS announced 28,970 people will start in higher education this academic year after meeting the requirements for university. It’s not good news for all pupils, however.

While pass rates were up overall, 125,000 pupils had their grades downgraded, despite no exams being sat due to the coronavirus pandemic. The unexpected dip in grades could be the difference between missing out on a place at university.

Clearing is available to pupils who missed out on a place at university - here's how the system works.

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What is clearing?

Clearing is how universities and colleges fill any places they still have on their courses.

Pupils who didn’t receive their desired grades can apply for a place at university or college through clearing between 6 July and 20 October.

Who can apply for clearing?

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You are eligible to go through the clearing process if you’re applying for university or college after 30 June. Anyone who didn’t receive any offers or didn’t meet the conditions of offers can apply through clearing.

Those who have paid for the multiple choice application fee of £25 can also apply.

If you have declined an offer, you are still eligible for clearing.

How do I apply?

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UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) first recommends discussing any such application with an adviser, whether it be at school, college, centre, or a careers office. Those applying independently can find more information at ucas.com.

Next, prospective students can search for universities and courses with vacancies using the UCAS search function. Universities and colleges constantly update their vacancies, so it is worth searching on more than one occasion if your desired course does not appear.

Before you add a Clearing choice in Track, you need to call the uni and give them your Clearing number (this can be found in Track on the UCAS website), and Personal ID, so they can look up your application.

Ask if they'd accept you - they might reconsider you (maybe for the same course) even if you applied to them earlier in the year. Get informal offers over the phone (perhaps from a variety of universities and colleges) then decide which one you want to accept.

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Once you have a clearing choice accepted add your choice in Track and and fill in the course details by the date the university or college gave you on the phone. You can only add one choice at a time, but if the university or college doesn't confirm your place, you'll be able to add another.