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Higher education at 18+

After applying - results, confirmation and clearing.

What if you do not receive any offers?

Before doing anything else, it might be worth considering 'why?' you didn’t receive any offers. Do you need to take time out to gain relevant work experience? Was it a very competitive course? Did your target grades not match the standard offer? Making a realistic application is important, especially when you are competing against others.

If you didn’t receive any offers and you really want to try to get into university for this academic year, then you have two options:

  • UCAS Extra is designed for students who have been turned down by all of their choices or, for whatever reason, have turned down their offers. (Remember though, that if you turn your offers down, you can’t go back and ask them to take you later in the same academic year). Once Extra has closed, you are automatically entered into Clearing if this is appropriate.   
  • Clearing is available after the A Level results come out in August (or in July for Scottish universities as their Higher exam results are announced earlier).

Are you eligible for UCAS Extra?

If you are eligible for Extra, it will show up when you log into UCAS Track. Extra is designed for students who have been turned down by all of their choices or have turned down their offers. Universities let UCAS know where they have spare places and you can search for these using the filters on the UCAS course search. Whilst this search does show you which courses have places available in Extra, it doesn’t let you know how many places are still available on each course.

You can also sign up for UCAS Media mailings if you'd like to get emails from universities and colleges with details of their vacancies

UCAS Extra gives you the chance to reconsider your university application, perhaps looking at courses not requiring such high grades or even different subjects should you have changed your mind. You need to contact the university to see whether they are prepared to consider you and it may be that they will request further information or you can offer to send them a new personal statement, especially if you have decided to change subjects.

It is unlikely that the really competitive courses will have places available in Extra. It is only possible for you to apply for one new course at any time through Extra so this does mean that you will not be able to have an insurance place. For details on Extra use the UCAS website and read their FAQs.

Whatever situation you find yourself in – whether you have been rejected by your 5 choices or completely changed your mind, don’t panic and just opt for any offer

Remember, the choice in Extra needs to be researched so take a look at Deciding which course to do to make sure that it is a good choice for you. If you do not receive an offer through Extra or decide that you don’t like what was offered, you are still eligible for Clearing.

Have you only applied to one course?

If you only applied for one course, it is possible for you to add another choice as long as you do this before the end of June. There is an additional charge to UCAS for this.

Are you eligible for Clearing?

You are eligible for Clearing if you do not hold any offers.

For those students taking A levels, Clearing starts after results are announced in August. Universities tell UCAS where they have places available through either students not achieving the right grades or students not taking up their insurance offer because they did make the grades for their firm offer.

Although it tends to work on a first come, first served basis, it is really important that if you find yourself in Clearing that you do not take the first place you are offered. Students tend to feel pressurized and panic and accept offers without doing their research first. If at all possible you should follow these pointers:

  • Visit the university if this is possible – universities will have staff working over this period for you to talk to. If this is not possible, make the most of the virtual tours and online open days where available. 
  • Check out the course content, opportunities for work placements, employability statistics, ratio of coursework to exams - Find and compare will give you some good ideas.
  • Find out what is still available for you in university accommodation as well as finding out about the clubs and societies. Remember, in order to gain a good graduate outcome, the more you actively participate in university life, the more likely an employer is to be interested in you.
  • The whole package still needs to be right for you, whether you are going to university through Clearing or not. For most people, going to university is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – so make sure it is the right choice for you!
  • Talk to your school or college staff as they know you well. Listen to their advice and, where possible, talk to your careers adviser who will be able to give you impartial advice on all your options.

It can feel very flattering to hear a university telling you that they would really like you on their course, but just make sure it is the right course at the right university for you! If universities have places on a less competitive course, they may offer you a place on a similar subject course or on a joint honours or combined course.

STOP – THINK – CONSIDER – is this right for me OR would I be better taking time out and applying again next year? 

Use the UCAS website to get the full picture on Clearing

The Student Room has a useful guide to clearing.

You could download UniCompare's clearing app which tells you everything you need to know about Clearing and allows you to talk to universities directly.

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