Clearing… the good, the fun and the exciting!

Guest posts

Faculty: Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care

25 July 2014

Jonathan Secker acts as clearing coordinator for our Faculty of Health, Social Care & Education. He's helped support applicants from initial enquiry, to careers advice and making sure they are settled at university. As Jonathan enters his seventh clearing cycle, he uses this blog to explain what happens, dispel myths and offer some top tips.

A simple way to think about clearing is that it is ‘a way of matching universities without students, to students without universities.’

Many people think clearing only happens on A-level results day; whereas this is the busiest time of clearing the whole process begins in early July and can continue into October. Clearing is a part of the UCAS application process and gives applicants who do not hold an offer a chance of finding a university place. Not all courses will have places available in clearing; for example our university will not have any places for child nursing, but there are still plenty of good courses available.

A common clearing myth is that it is for people with low exam results – FALSE! There are lots of reasons why people use clearing, such as they have declined all previous offers, might not have received any offers in the first place (perhaps if they applied for particularly competitive courses), and some apply late and automatically enter clearing.

If you’ve not met the offer conditions for your chosen university, it is not the end of the world. In some circumstances, you may still be offered a place on your chosen course, or you may be offered an alternative. In this situation don’t panic, speak to your chosen university first before making any assumptions. If things don’t work out then remember there are good courses available in clearing, including some of the more popular subjects. For 2014 entry we still have vacancies for Social Work and Paramedic Science.

Even if you had applied for a different course initially you can still apply for any courses you’re interested in during clearing. Our Healthcare Science course is often very popular during clearing as many people are not aware of this exciting course.

If you’re applying for courses in clearing that are different to your original choices, you will be asked to write a new personal statement and send to the university direct (note you cannot change your personal statement on UCAS). It is very important for you do this, especially for courses that interview, as this gives you the opportunity to demonstrate why you may have changed your mind and why you are right for the course in question.

As mentioned earlier once results are released the phone lines get busier and places can fill quickly. It is important you regularly check course vacancies on UCAS and individual university webpages to see what places are available. Some courses have a capped amount of places whilst some may only offer a set amount of interviews.

Do remember: as hectic as the situation is for you, there are lots of people in the same situation and as much as universities wish they could update everyone’s application at the same time this is not possible. You can help yourself by responding to university correspondence within time frames given but if in any doubt, there is always someone at the end of the phone to help!

Top tips

  1. Don’t wait until results day to assess your options, many universities have live clearing course lists from July e.g.
  2. If you have only just missed out on your grades then contact the university from which you hold an offer and check if they will still accept you. If not ask what alternative or similar courses they offer, e.g. social policy as opposed to social work, public health as opposed to nursing.
  3. Do your research before calling – some courses (e.g. social work) will still require an interview during clearing whilst some courses may only be available at certain campuses.
  4. Make the calls yourself. Universities can only offer places to you – not your parent, brother or college tutor. Have you UCAS ID, clearing number and grades to hand when you call, including GCSE results.
  5. Remember the person on the end of the clearing line is here to help you. They will be more than happy to speak with you about course availability and entry requirements.
  6. When you’ve made all your calls, take time to consider all your options before making a final decision.
  7. If you have offers from more than one university make sure that as well as accepting your first choice, you decline the other offers.
  8. Don’t panic – as stressful as it seems we are here to help and get you a place on your ideal course.
The Faculty of Health, Social Care & Education has places available during clearing for courses in social policy, education studies, paramedic science and many more.  For a full list please visit


The views expressed here are those of the individual and do not necessarily represent the views of Anglia Ruskin University. If you've got any concerns please contact us.