Education How To

A parents’ guide to university clearing

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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Here’s all you need to know about university clearing with UCAS.

While it can be disappointing when your child doesn’t get their predicted grades, all is not lost! You can still help your child to apply for clearing to attend university.

Who needs to use clearing?

Clearing is most often used by students who didn’t get their predicted results. This means the universities that may have accepted them no longer can, since they didn’t gain good enough results. The flip side of this when students get better grades than expected. They may be able to get a place on a course which is asking for higher grades. Clearing is also used by those who’ve changed their mind about which course or universities they wish to go to. And by those who are applying late for university.

How best to support your child

While it can be emotionally trying for a parent when their child doesn’t get their expected grades, it is important to be there for them in this difficult time. This is not only to make them feel better, but to make them more focused when applying for clearing. The more informed you are on their options, the more you can help your child get the best possible place. Be open to discussing the pros and cons of the different courses, and what your child’s priorities are.

Applying for clearing

There are a limited number of places, so it is best to apply as soon as possible. You can check both UCAS and university sites for listings of vacancies in your child’s chosen subject. There are some that are unlisted, however. These can go within hours, especially at the top universities. These placings will be discovered by calling the university. It is much better that your child talks to the university directly, not yourself.

Your child will also find it useful to use their UCAS Track, adding a clearing choice to their choices screen. Remember that you can only have one clearing choice at one time. Your child should also consider being flexible about their subject. This could mean doing their chosen field as a joint degree with something else.

The most important thing is to not give up, and encourage your child to keep on going. There are literally thousands of places during clearing.

For more information on university clearing, visit