University clearing 2021

What is Clearing?

Clearing refers to the process of allocating unplaced students to UK universities. The process really kicks in on A Level exam results day, which this year is Tuesday 10th August, although the Clearing system is open from 5th July and runs to 19h October.

Clearing is available to those who:

applied after 30th June
didn’t receive any offers (or none you wanted to accept)
didn’t meet the conditions of your offers
paid the multiple choice application fee of £26
declined your firm place using the ‘decline my place’ button in Track

The impact of Covid-19 is still being felt in all areas of education, including the clearing system.

How are grades awarded this summer, 2021?

This year, GCSE, AS, and A level results will be awarded as teacher assessed grades based on a range of evidence, including responses to assessment materials supplied by exam boards, coursework, internal tests, and mock examinations.

If you didn't get the grades you needed

For A Level students who did not make the grades they expected, the deadline to send an appeal to the relevant exam board is 17th September.

However, there is an earlier deadline of 23rd August for priority appeals.

For example, if you did not get your first choice of university place confirmed.

October exams

October exams - If you want to improve your grades, there is an exam series in the autumn. In England exams will be held in October, and students can take one of these exams if they were due to take one in the summer and can use their highest grade from those or the teacher estimates.

Clearing Plus

In response to the COVID crisis, UCAS introduced a new service, Clearing Plus, in 2020. Clearing Plus combines clearing with the adjustment process.

If you are unplaced this year you can use Clearing Plus, which matches what you are looking for in a course with unfilled places that are currently on offer.

So, if you find yourself in Clearing this year, UCAS will match you to courses you may be interested in, using what they know about you from your application, and what universities and colleges are looking for in a student. Your matches will appear in Track, under the button, 'my matches' - this will enable you to view your top 50 course matches and can then indicate your interest in any of these.

Places become available once examination results have been released to students on Tuesday August 10th, although the Clearing system for 2021 runs from July to October.

You will know you are in Clearing if your Track status, which is updated on results day (August 10th), says 'You are in Clearing' or 'Clearing has started'.

If Track does not indicate this, it is possible that your firm or insurance university are still considering you, so you need to contact them to check your position. If they are still considering you then get chatting and show you are keen and have the skills and qualities they are looking for.

What should I do if I go through Clearing?

Clearing has always been first come first served system, so you need to act quickly. Clearing is constantly updated so you do need to be online and have your phone with you. Make sure that you make your phone calls and not your parents or teachers. The key advice from UCAS is to keep checking as the system is updated constantly.

When you contact a university make sure you have your Clearing number with you along with your Personal ID number.

The aim of your phone call is to get as many informal offers as you can. You also need to ask for time to consider their offer, and when their deadline for an answer is.

Make sure you know something about the course and university before you call, as this puts you in a better position than simply calling ‘cold’. You are likely to be asked why you are interested in a particular course, so please make sure you have done some research on the course and the university – you must ‘sell’ yourself.

Also, read through your Personal Statement to focus on your strengths and give yourself positive thoughts.

Although you are in a competitive market and need to make a quick decision this does not mean that you have to accept the first offer you are given.

If you get offers, make a note of the Course Code and Institution Code.

Gather your options, talk to teachers, friends, family and arrange a 'virtual' visit.

Once you have made your choice and the University has offered you a place, add the course to the add Clearing course in Track. You must only do this if you are accepting the place.

Other Options

If you do not make the grade this time around, you could also consider resitting your ‘A’ Levels and re-applying next year. This can give you an opportunity to 'up' your grades, and perhaps change your A Level subjects. You need to consider your priorities and ambitions and accepting a Clearing place at a university you do not really want to go to, or to study on a course you are not suited for may not be the best solution for you in the long run.

The adjustment process

More information on adjustment

video on Ucas adjustment
Video on adjustment process


For other advice



The Telegraph