Clearing – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

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Does the UK Clearing system work to help those students with low grades achieve? Do they complete their degree, or are they just a financial bonus for universities?
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The Good

Let’s start with the great aspects of Clearing! For many students who miss their first choice options because their grades were not in line with what they predicted, then Clearing is a great option. There are lots of success stories where people have gone through the Clearing process, taken an offer for a course, and gone on to excel and completed their degree.

UCAS have tried to make applying through Clearing as simple as possible, and if you think that you may need to use this system, then you are eligible if you meet one of the following criteria:

  • You are applying for a course past the 30th of June.
  • You have declined your firm choice place.
  • You were not offered a place by any of your choices.
  • You did not meet the entry requirements of the offers you were given.

You can complete the process online and apply via UCAS. Still, we always recommend that you speak to the university in question too so that you can discuss what is on offer and allow them to know that your application is coming through.

Many people are led to believe that clearing id only for students who achieve low grades but it is also a great option if you have changed your mind about what you want to study or where you want to attend university.

The Bad

As with any process, some elements are poor and need improvement. For some candidates, Clearing is one of these processes as there are many horror stories of how students miss out on university placements because the system is unable to handle the traffic. This is even more concerning when you consider the impact of COVID-19 on results and the number of students who will inevitably need to use the Clearing system.

When Clearing opens, many prospective students are unable to get hold of universities. Phone lines become jammed, the UCAS website is known to crash and offers are not processed as quickly as you would expect, meaning that many students are then left with very little choice.

The Ugly

The ugly truth of Clearing is that statistically, students who have lower grades or who were given unconditional offers in the first place tend to drop out at a higher rate than those who achieved the required grades for their initial choice. As more data evidence comes to light, it is clear that those students who do not have a firm choice in place are at greater risk of not being successful if they need to pass through Clearing.

The other ugly truth that prospective students must be aware of before entering the university system is that these institutions are businesses and need to recruit students to get income. Clearing is often accused of being a system where universities sell seats without considering whether a person is right for the course and so it is your job to work out if you are going to get what you need by accepting a place on a course that may not be your first choice.

The Verdict

The reality of the Clearing system is that while it is not perfect, it fulfils a need for those students who do not get the grades they need to take up the offers they already have. However, if you are considering going through Clearing, it is important to consider whether there is a suitable course, in a suitable university that will give you the experience you need to go on and have the life you want.

Clearing can be a stressful process for students, and it is clear that universities benefit more from the system as it currently stands because they can fill spaces on courses that would otherwise have been vacant for the year. The verdict? Being honest with yourself and your academic ability is the key to finding the right pathway for you.

Find out more about the university journey by clicking here; we have a range of articles, tips and resources for you to use when it comes to planning your next steps.

Mirlinda, Community Builder

Mirlinda, Community Builder

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