Clearing is a great way to make it to university if your exams didn’t exactly go the way you wanted, or if you did better than what you expected then you can change your course. It means that what you originally chose is not set in stone.

What is clearing?

Clearing is where universities offer out their remaining places to those looking to apply. You can apply though clearing if you do not already hold an offer and the course you want still has places. Clearing is great if you have a last-minute change of heart and what to switch up where you are going or what you want to do.

It is advised that you talk to your teachers at school or career advisors to get a better understanding of what is available to you. Or if you do not have this option available to you then there are multiple resources online where you can look through courses and universities.

If you originally applied for only one course for the cheaper price of £22 then you will have to pay an additional fee to go through clearing of £4.50 (as of 2022).

Who can use clearing?

You can use clearing if you did not receive any offers through UCAS or elsewhere. Most people use clearing when they do not meet the offers of the courses they applied for. Additionally, if you choose your firm choice on your UCAS form but change your mind and decline it, then you can apply elsewhere or to a different course through clearing.

Additionally, if your results are better than you expected then you will need to decline your place on UCAS and reapply through clearing.

How does it work?

Clearing is available to use usually around the start of July till the middle of October – or as long as there are places available.

There is clearing plus where you can get matched to a choice based on your choices. You can use clearing through the UCAS website if you are unsure what to do. Alternatively, if you know which university you want to go to, you can directly phone them up to get onto the course you want.

So, before you add your clearing choice in your application, make sure you speak to the university you want to go to, to give them your clearing number. Your clearing number will be in your application. They will also need your personal ID. It is possible that you can get reconsidered for the exact course you initially applied for. Or you can check if they would accept you for a different course.

It may be best to speak to alternative universities and get informal offers over the phone so that you can decide which one to accept.

You should only add your clearing choice when you have permission from the university. There will be some details you need to fill in which you should have been told over the phone. When entering these details, this means you are accepting the offer. So when and if they confirm it, it will show as an acceptance on your application form on UCAS. If you do not get accepted you can add a different course – you can only add another course if you did not get accepted on to the first course you selected.


It is important to consider accommodation if you are applying to a different university. Of course, most students prefer to be on campus, but this might not be possible if everywhere is filled up. Only sort your accommodation once your offer has been accepted on your application form, not just over the phone.

It may be best that you apply to a university that you have already visited on an open day so that you know you are happy to go there. Alternatively, before you start your course if you applied for a different university, take a look round the campus to learn where everything is and get a feel for it.

What are the other options?

If clearing is not for you, they you have multiple other options. If you desperately want a specific course then you can simply re-apply for the next year. This gives you a year to either re-do your exams or to work for the year to save up some money.

A year out might even give you the chance to go travelling or work abroad to save up some money.

Final Thoughts

If you are already thinking you want to change your course then check out the UCAS website and see what you need to do if you have any additional questions.

If you miss out on clearing then lots of people change their course whilst they are at university or after completing one year of it so you don’t need to worry about you being stuck in a course you do not like!

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