UCAS clearing and adjustment: a guide for teachers

About UCAS Clearing

A Level results day always leads to high emotions: many students will feel relieved and happy as they prepare to start the degree of their dreams, but for others, unexpected results can lead to more mixed emotions. Luckily, UCAS Clearing and Adjustment allow students the opportunity to make last-minute changes to their university application.

What is UCAS Clearing?

Clearing offers students the opportunity to attend university straight after their A Levels, even if they missed their first and second choice offers. Numerous top universities offer places through Clearing, from Leeds to Liverpool, Edinburgh to Exeter, and Newcastle to Nottingham.

Clearing offers students the opportunity to attend university straight after their A Levels, even if they missed their first and second choice offers.

Students can also use Clearing as an opportunity to change their course at the last minute. Maybe they’ve decided they want to be closer to home, or that they want to study Law instead of Biology. Clearing is available to use between July and September, meaning there’s time for students to think about their next move after Results Day without having to rush their decision. All courses available through Clearing can be found on the official UCAS vacancy list, and are also published in The Telegraph newspaper.

Last-minute changes are always stressful for students, but there are steps that teachers can take to ensure that the process runs as smoothly as possible.

Preparation is key

UCAS will publish the courses which are available on clearing at 6pm the day before results day. The night before results day, students might find it useful to identify 5 courses which they would like to do if they miss their firm and insurance offers. Students should also make sure that their contact details are up-to-date on UCAS so that it’s easy for universities to contact them on the day.

Be on standby when the results are opened

Amongst the students celebrating on results day, there will also be dejected students who have missed their offers and are at a loss as to what to do next. Make sure that you identify these students as soon as possible and ensure that there is a quiet space with a computer where you can discuss their options log onto UCAS clearing if necessary.

Have your phone at the ready to contact universities

Once your student has identified which courses they’d like to apply to, it’s time to start ringing universities. Their phone lines are likely to be very busy, so it can be more effective to have several people calling different universities at the same time to maximise the chances of getting through.

When your student is through to the university, they will have to undergo a ‘mini-interview’, so they should be ready to explain why they want to do their course. A good way for them to prepare for this is to quickly read over their personal statement.

When your student is through to the university, they will have to undergo a ‘mini-interview’, so they should be ready to explain why they want to do their course. A good way for them to prepare for this is to quickly read over their personal statement. They will also need to have their UCAS number, clearing number (from UCAS track), GCSE grades and A Level grades to hand.

Ensure that all options have been explored

If your student was unsuccessful at clearing, or if their grades were very different from what they were hoping for, they may want to consider applying for next year’s entry instead. This can give them the opportunity to build up their UCAS points by re-taking their exams, or alternatively take the time to gain work experience and skills outside of education.

What is UCAS adjustment?

UCAS Adjustment offers a similar service to UCAS clearing, but is for students who have got higher grades than they were expecting. It allows students to swap their original offer for one for a degree with higher grade requirements, often at a more prestigious university. Adjustment is only available from Results Day (17 August 2017) until 31 August, so students should be on the ball.

UCAS Adjustment offers a similar service to UCAS clearing, but is for students who have got higher grades than they were expecting. It allows students to swap their original offer for one for a degree with higher grade requirements, often at a more prestigious university.

How does it work?

To register for adjustment, your student will have had to have met or exceeded the conditions of their firm offer. Students’ original first choice offer will be held whilst they are shopping around for a new degree. However, unlike with Clearing, there isn’t a full vacancy list for Adjustment. So, students will have to use the UCAS course search tool to find courses which they are interested in, and then make speculative phone calls to the university to see if there are any spaces available.

Once your student gets through to a university, they should tell them that they’re applying through adjustment and give them their Personal ID. If the university offers them a place, make sure your student takes time to think about it before verbally accepting – students are only allowed one adjustment offer, and the university will add itself to the student’s application if they accept.

If nothing takes their fancy, or once the adjustment time is up, the student can keep their original firm offer.

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