What is UCAS Clearing?

Updated: Sep 14

Clearing is the system universities use to fill up any vacancies they have on a course. It’s available to students that don’t have any offers and operates between July and September.


Your child can participate in Clearing if they have already applied through UCAS and one of the following situations applies to them:


  1. They did not receive any offers from the universities or colleges they applied to.

  2. They declined all their offers or did not respond by the UCAS deadline

  3. They did not achieve the acquired grades and no further offer was made

  4. Your child applied after the UCAS deadline, June 30.

Teenage boy looking at a level results Clearing UCAS fist in air The Parents Guide to
Sixth form Results Day - what is Clearing?

How it works


Students must apply (through UCAS) to participate in Clearing. If a university hasn’t responded and confirmed the place for which your child originally applied (for example, they may be just below entry requirements and the university is considering whether to make an offer) they will not be eligible to apply for another course through Clearing until such time as they have received a rejection. In this scenario, it’s worth making direct contact with the university in question to get an update on status.


Find out what is available


Use the UCAS website to find out which courses are available via Clearing. This will not be a full list of all university courses, but a list of all those that are available now that results have come out and universities know whether or not the students to whom they have offered places have met the grades. Of course, some courses will not appear because they are fully subscribed, but there will still be plenty of choices. In some cases, courses in which your child may have been interested but did not meet entry requirements might appear if many students failed to meet the entry requirements at the time of results.


Why might there be spare places?


Don’t feel that because a university offers a university place through Clearing this means the courses are undesirable. It is possible that fewer students applied than anticipated; students didn’t achieve the minimum entry requirements; or successful students had a change of heart.


Don’t waste valuable time


Your child will need to speak to the university in person before applying for a place through Clearing to find out if the course is still available, whether your child meets the entry requirements, and whether the course is

suitable for them. Students need to call themselves rather than have someone call on their behalf. The university is going to consider whether to offer them a place, not their representative!

It may seem obvious, but worth remembering: the most popular universities have the most applicants and field spare places first, so your child needs to be ready to act quickly to secure the best options.

Teenage girl excited A level results day UCAS Clearing The Parents' Guide to
What is UCAS clearing?