Over the course of the pandemic, universities saw a rapid increase in applicants through the Clearing process. UCAS reported that a record number of 82,915 hopefuls got places through Clearing in 2020. 24,755 were first-time applicants directly through the process. With so many plans for gap years being rearranged or cancelled as a result of COVID halting travel, it makes sense there was an influx of applications.
But Clearing isn’t just for those out there whose plans were halted as a result of the pandemic. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the benefits of applying through Clearing as opposed to the traditional process of securing a place on a course. We’ll also look to clear up some of the common stigmas that surround the Clearing process.
Before we dive into its benefits, there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding Clearing courses. These tend to be stigmas that have built up through assumptions and word of mouth that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Common myths involve viewing the process as an admission of failure to secure a place the traditional way. Some people incorrectly believe the Clearing process is an indicator of academic success, offering only courses that no one wants in undesirable locations.
None of this is true. Any university can list course places on the process, and you can apply for Clearing if you received no offers or you didn’t want to accept any. Clearing is just another process of applying for a place on a university course.
Using the Clearing process to secure a university spot can take away from the stress of traditional applications. When applying for university through traditional UCAS applications, you have to choose a specific university that you’ve looked at and the course with the specifications closest to what you want. When it’s been sent out, you have to wait to hear back to see if your university has accepted your application and whether that’s conditional to results or if they’re happy to take you unconditionally.
The Clearing process eliminates this stress. Instead of worrying about securing your place on a course of your choice in your ideal city, your options are presented to you by what’s available. Through Clearing, universities can offer prospective students places on courses that haven’t quite filled up yet. This means that if a particular university you’d been interested in during initial applications didn’t accept you, you could still apply to another course that they offer. You could also apply for the course you wanted at a different university if they offer it through Clearing and you missed out on the grades for your first choice.
It's also first come, first serve. This means once the course offering is uploaded to Clearing by the university, whoever sees it first will often get the place. While this is a positive if you missed out while going through the initial applications, the thought of going through Clearing on results day might cause some stress if you’re worried about not getting a place. Seeing a course getting advertised you want to pursue and worrying that someone else is trying to take it while you’re trying to contact them can understandably cause anxiety. However, Clearing isn’t just a results day dash to the finish. It actually opens on 5th July and runs until 18th October. In this time, universities will upload the courses that need filling, so you can be sure there will be plenty of options that will be open to you. Even if you don’t secure the spot in the advertised course, there’s every chance that other universities will offer places for the same or a similar course. It’s easy for us to say, but don’t worry! There’ll be plenty of Clearing courses to fill.
University is an exciting time, but you can experience a high level of stress worrying about placements on courses. The ease of access that Clearing offers is plenty to encourage new university applicants to utilise it.