If you missed out on the results you needed for your preferred course, there is no need to panic. Clearing offers an alternative path that could see you secure a great offer for another course.

How does university Clearing work?

Clearing gives applicants that didn’t receive any formal offers the opportunity to book their place at one of their chosen universities. Taking A-Levels comes with a great deal of pressure, and not everyone manages to seal the grades required to get into their chosen university.

This page covers all the information you'll need to make the process simple and stress-free including:

  • What is university Clearing?
  • When does university Clearing start?
  • How do I apply for university Clearing?
  • How long do universities take to respond to Clearing applications?
  • How many universities can I apply to through Clearing?
  • How does Clearing affect applying for student accommodation?
Clearing Accommodation:

What is university Clearing?

Understanding how university Clearing works is quite simple. It pairs applicants who didn’t get a place on their first-choice course with university places that are yet to be filled. This doesn’t mean only the courses that nobody wanted are left; there can be a number of reasons that places are still available on university courses. According to UCAS, 73,320 applicants booked their place at university through Clearing last year, landing themselves on some great courses such as English or Law. Using their Clearing search tool, you can take your time searching for a course that interests you.

If you would like to hear from students who used Clearing to book their place with university and went on to stay at our accommodation, just head over to Unite Students common room. For everything else you’ll need to know about Clearing, just read below.


When does university Clearing start?

You can apply for your desired course through Clearing between the 6th July and 20th October. Typically, it all swings into action on results day – which is the 6th July for International Baccalaureate students, 4th August for A-Levels in Scotland, and 13th August for A-Levels in the rest of the UK. The sooner you get going applying for Clearing, the more courses you will have to choose from.


How do I apply for university Clearing?

The first step when applying for university through Clearing is to register with UCAS, then you will receive your Clearing number and access to UCAS track. Take note of your number, you’ll need to reference it when you’re talking to universities and colleges. If your results don’t match the requirements of any of your conditional offers, you can commence your search on the afternoon of results day.

Once you have found a course you are interested in, it is up to you to call the uni to enquire about the vacancy. Remember the university will want to speak with you, not your parents, and it’s important you have all the information you need before you make the call. This includes yours and the university's Clearing number. First impressions are important, do your best to project yourself as enthusiastic and confident.

If you are successful and the university offers you a place on their course, if you want to accept you need to add the Clearing choice in UCAS track. If you decide the course isn’t for you, you need to ask the uni to cancel your place before you can apply through Clearing again.

Clearing Accommodation:

How long do universities take to respond to clearing applications?

Usually, all Clearing applications are done over the phone. Once you have contacted the university and confirmed they still have vacancies, it’s up to them whether or not to offer you a place. This means response times are usually quick, and if you are unsuccessful you can quickly move on to your next choice.


How many universities can I apply to through Clearing?

With the way that university Clearing works, you can only have one on-going application at a time but have the freedom to apply to as many universities as you want to. If you are unsuccessful applying for a place at your first choice Clearing university or decide that course isn’t for you, call up the uni and ask them to cancel your place. 

Once you have done this, you can either apply for a different university or apply for a different course at the same university. However, if on your original application you only applied for one choice, you’ll need to pay an additional £5 to go through Clearing again. No decision is final until you add a university as your selected Clearing choice on UCAS track, remember to think long and hard about your decision as you are committing yourself for the next 3 or 4 years!

How does Clearing affect applying for student accommodation?

Not securing your place at your chosen university can mean a last-minute change of plan. You may find a place on a course through Clearing that takes you to a different city, which means a last-minute hunt for student accommodation. The same principle applies to accommodation as it does to finding a course you like through Clearing. The sooner you are proactive about it, the better choices you’ll find in front of you. It’s true that some of the best options may have been taken, but there will still be plenty to choose from.

If you are finding it difficult to decide which city to study in, you can hear what life is like in the different uni cities from students who stay at our accommodation on the Unite Students common room.

At Unite Students, we take pride in our no place no pay policy. If you book student accommodation with us and don’t receive an offer from your chosen university, you can cancel without having to pay anything.

Clearing Accommodation:

What is adjustment?

Got better grades than expected? Then look no further…

Adjustment is similar to Clearing, except you can use it if you got better grades than expected and you want to look at courses which you didn’t think you’d meet the requirements for previously. It’s a chance for you to reconsider your options, and switch to a new course or university. Find out more about adjustment on the UCAS Adjustment web page. You can register for Adjustment in Track. Make sure to get in there quickly, as you don’t have long to complete the process!

Key dates to note

Clearing typically commences in July and closes in September but the specific dates vary from year to year. The following dates are for Clearing 2020.

  • 6th July 2020: Applications open
  • 6th July 2020: International Baccalaureate results day
  • 4th August 2020: A-level results day in Scotland
  • 13th August 2020: A-level results day in England and Wales
  • 13th to 31st August 2020: Adjustment available
  • 21st September 2020: Final deadline for applications
  • 20th October 2020: Applications close


Student’s advice on Clearing

Lucy and Tati both applied to university through Clearing and they haven’t looked back since. We asked them for their advice on how to get through the process with as little stress as possible and snap up a place on a great course. In the following videos, they talk about their experience of going through Clearing and offer their advice to applicants who are considering Clearing in the future.

If you have any more questions on how applying through Clearing will affect booking student accommodation, you can talk with a member of our team via our chatbox, which you can find at the bottom right hand side of our homepage or you can call us on 0300 303 8635 or from overseas on 0117 302 7439.

Clearing Accommodation:

Lucy: University Clearing Tips and Advice

Tati: Results Day, Clearing and Preparing For Uni

Clearing Accommodation: