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What is Clearing and Adjustment?

Once your son/daughter has applied to university there are a number of processes that take place. If they achieve the results they need for their first choice course they will automatically go to that university / college. However, things get a little more complicated when a student doesn't quite achieve high enough grades for their first choice OR they achieve much better results than predicted.


Clearing is the UCAS service that allows students to find suitable courses if they:

  • failed to secure any offers during the application stage
  • applied late (after 30th June)
  • didn't get the grades for their firm or insurance offers.

Clearing is available from July to September

For students who apply late to University, they still have to register and fill out an application form as normal. Students who have already applied but who have not secured a place at university do not - their application will automatically enter the clearing process.

UCAS will send information to students about the clearing process. The aim is for students to find suitable vacancies at institutions that interest them by contacting them directly. This is usually done either on A level results day or in the first few days following receipt of results. 

It is important that students do their research and seek advice before application, rather than panicking and potentially choosing the wrong course / institution for them.

Guide to Clearing


Adjustment is the process by which students can search for alternative courses if they have exceeded the conditions for their firm choice - usually by achieving better exam results than they were expecting.

Adjustment is available from A level results day until 31st August and is entirely optional. Many competitive courses will have filled up, but some spaces may have become available due to other applicants failing to meet the grades or choosing to study elsewhere.

Your son / daughter will need to register for adjustment on results day via UCAS Track and then contact universities / colleges directly to see if any places are available on their preferred course. If they accept a place at a new institution or onto a different course then their application will be updated. It is very important that they are sure about their decision, as they will forfeit their original or firm place when they accept a new one.

Whilst they are looking for alternative courses via Adjustment, their original choice is kept safe and will stay their firm option unless a different course is accepted.

How to use Adjustment

Direct Contact Service

UCAS has a direct contact service that is designed to help sudents find a university or college place if things don't go to plan.

If your son / daughter failed to secure any offers in their application or if they are eligible for clearing universities and colleges can contact them if they think that they have a vacancy on a suitable course.

UCAS will send an email out to those students who are eligible to sign up to the Direct Contact Service.

Please note - not all universities and colleges will use this service

More information on the  Direct Contact Service

For more information:

UCAS has a lot of information on Clearing, Adjustment and the Direct Contact Service

Go to the relevant Careerpilot section in Higher Education at 18+

You've got your results, now what? (WON Video) - A short video to show the options available to students on A level results day

A site for adults wanting to get back into learning

Take a look