University clearing 2020

What is Clearing?

Clearing refers to the process of allocating unplaced students to UK universities.

This year, the impact of Covid-19 will be felt in all areas of education, including the clearing system.

Following the cancellation of A-Level examinations, this year's A Level grades are based on teacher assessments, and are called Calculated Grades.

As well as place students on to courses, clearing can also be used to try to get a place at a 'higher ranking' university if they have been awarded grades above the grades required by their 'firm' offer, through the UCAS adjustment process.

In order to support students at such a difficult time UCAS has introduced a new service, Clearing Plus, which combines clearing with the adjustment process. 

From 6 July – 20 October, you can apply for a course using the Clearing system if you’re not already holding an offer from a university or college, and the course still has places.

You can use clearing if:

  • You are applying after June 30th and got no offers, or did not accept any offers.
  • You did not meet your offers .
  • You have declined your firm place using the decline my place button in Track.

Clearing Plus

If you are unplaced this year you can use Clearing Plus, which is a new tool that 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 Thursday August 13th, although the Clearing system for 2020 runs from July to October.

You will know you are in Clearing if your Track status, which is updated on results day (August 13th), 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?

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 have to ‘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-online' 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. 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.

Government policy

Government policy

Image courtesy of UK Parliament

Following this, Ofqual announced the following decisions:

  • exam boards must make exams available in all GCSE, AS and A level subjects in the additional autumn series
  • exam boards must base results on students' performance in exams alone and not on any non-exam assessment, with the exception of art and design qualifications
  • exam boards must issue replacement certificates for the summer results if students request this
  • exam boards must adopt the normal arrangements for reviews of marking and appeals

This means if students take an autumn exam, they can ask for a new certificate replacing the one for the summer results, if their autumn grade is higher.

The adjustment process

More information on adjustment, go to:

Adjustment, or view:

Video courtesy of UCAS

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