University Clearing 2023: A step-by-step guide to Clearing

For those who didn’t apply before deadlines or who didn’t receive the grades they needed, Clearing offers students alternative courses or universities.

The Clearing process is now live, offering university applicants a second chance to get into courses which still have spaces left.

With results day upon Scottish pupils, it's often the most stressful day of the year. But Clearing can provide students who didn't quite achieve the grades they were looking for with options for further study.

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More than 33,280 students found places at university through Clearing in 2022, so here is what you need to know.

What is Clearing?

Clearing is a service which allows universities and colleges to fill any places which remain available on courses and is open from July 5 to October 17.

Most of the time, institutions do this by finding students who have decided to go to university after the application deadline, or students who have not got the results they needed to get into their first choice course and are looking for alternative courses or universities.

Universities want to have students around, and often times applicants can find courses which suit them well or even apply for Universities which rejected applicants before.

Who is clearing for?

Clearing can be an ideal way to find a place on courses if an applicant is:

  • Looking for a university after no offers were received
  • Looking to change course or university after performing better than predicted
  • Looking for something suitable after declining offers
  • Looking for options if the needed results weren't achieved
  • Applying after the deadline

How to apply for Clearing

If an applicant meets the criteria for Clearing, they then must take initiative and find the right course or university for them through UCAS - the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.

UCAS offers a list of courses accepting pupils through Clearing, but with thousands of courses up and down the UK accepting applications there is a lot to consider from what to study to accommodation.

Applicants must find suitable Clearing courses using the Clearing option on UCAS or take advantage of the UCAS service to match applicants with courses through clearing.

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Once a list of course or university options has been gathered, applicants should then contact each prospective university individually.

Students must contact each university or college before adding their choice through Clearing. Image: Glenn Carstens Peters/UnsplashStudents must contact each university or college before adding their choice through Clearing. Image: Glenn Carstens Peters/Unsplash
Students must contact each university or college before adding their choice through Clearing. Image: Glenn Carstens Peters/Unsplash

Without doing so, applicants will not be able to add a Clearing choice to UCAS. Applicants should contact the universities or colleges they are interested in, providing their UCAS ID, results and sometimes a Clearing number - so be sure to have these details to hand. Unless a student nominates someone to speak on their behalf, they must contact each university themselves.

After a conversation discussing the applicants grades and potential suitability for the course, universities will then be able to provide informal offers which should be emailed to students through the address attached to their UCAS account, outlining the deadline for accepting.

Some universities may require potential students to speak with course leaders, assess their academic abilities or even be invited to an interview before any Clearing offer is made. There is also a chance that a university won't find an applicant suitable, in which case it's worth getting in touch with other universities and finding another course.

As there will be hundreds of applications being processed through Clearing, it may take some time to hear back - but stay calm. If there has been no contact by the following day it’s worth getting in touch again.

UCAS offer a helpline during Clearing. Image: Matt Cardy/Getty ImagesUCAS offer a helpline during Clearing. Image: Matt Cardy/Getty Images
UCAS offer a helpline during Clearing. Image: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Once an informal offer and possible placement on a course has been confirmed with a university, students can then add their Clearing choice to UCAS. The university will then confirm that a place has been secured through UCAS.

This will count as accepting the University offer, so if all is confirmed it will appear in an applicants Choices page on UCAS as an acceptance.

Only one Clearing choice can be added at a time, but if the place isn't confirmed another can be added. Accepting a clearing choice can happen on the same day as results day and most universities will have clearing helplines open to support students and their families.

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What next?

Applicants must then begin thinking about accommodation and student finance.

Student finance

To avoid delays students must apply for finance as soon as possible, whether it's a fresh application or updating a previous application which could have a different course attached. This can be done online through SAAS.

It is possible for those applying using Clearing that funding will not be made available before the beginning of term so contacting the university or college may be necessary.


Accommodation will fall to each university or college individually but if a place is guaranteed through Clearing most institutions will have support and help in place to get students sorted, likely in halls of residence.

Who to call for Clearing help in Scotland?

Skills Development Scotland offer a results helpline on 0808 100 8000.

It will be available from 8am-8pm on Tuesday August 8 and Wednesday August 9 and from 9am-5pm on August 10-11.

They are able to help those unsure about next steps or who need to explore options, from course vacancies, Confirmation and Clearing, advice about Foundation, Modern and Graduate Apprenticeships, and jobs, volunteering, or staying on at school.

UCAS can be contacted on 0371 468 0468, and will require the users' Personal ID to find records and process changes. UCAS will be available from 8.30am-6pm.

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Otherwise, check with each university or college to find the admissions office or Clearing helpline numbers.

Advice for young people who didn't achieve the results they needed

Young people under the age of 19 can get free, confidential support and advice from Childline online or by calling 0800 1111 for free. There are message boards and online forums full of pupils who are in the same situation and may be able to help.

Childline also offer help and guidance to both young people and parents on their website.



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