The clearing process begins on 6th July 2020 – but what does clearing look like and how might you apply? We’ve compiled some information, links and dates for 2020 that you may find useful!

What is it?

Clearing is an application process provided by UCAS in which universities and colleges fill spaces on their courses before the academic year. Clearing is a brilliant opportunity to further explore your options if you need a change of direction – including potential courses and universities you may not have considered previously!

Clearing may be useful if you:

  • Did not meet the conditions of your Firm Choice or Insurance Choice offers.
  • Had all offers or applications declined or withdrawn
  • Declined any offers made by universities (otherwise known as ‘Self-release’)
  • Would like to apply to university having not done so previously

In 2019, UCAS reported 73,320 students – that’s 13.5% of applicants – used clearing to secure a place at university (UCAS End of Cycle Report, 2019). This was the highest number yet! Clearing has become, and is continuing to become, a popular route to getting into university.


The period for clearing applications runs from 6th July to 20th October 2020 for those of you not already holding an offer from a university of college, subject to the places on the course! If you have confirmed your ‘Firm’ and ‘Insurance’ offers but did not meet the conditions of your university offers, you can apply through clearing on results day: 13th August, or 4th August for SQA’s (Scotland).

How do I apply?

First – check out the courses available using the UCAS Search Tool – this will be updated regularly with course vacancies. Every course will be different in terms of popularity, so it’s important to remember that your desired course might be filled at other universities, or the course content may differ! You may need to explore alternatives and double check this information just in case.

Source: UCAS Search Tool

After this, make a call! Universities will have a dedicated clearing number and a variety of university staff on hand for clearing enquiries, particularly on results day. You can talk to them about the course availability, and whether they might consider accepting you. You can also ask questions about their campus, accommodation and general student life – these aspects are still really important for you to ensure you’re picking a university that is perfect for you! To help you prepare for the call, here are some handy tips to consider:

  • Make the call yourself. This is a good opportunity to express your interest in their course and why you’d be a great candidate to consider.
  • Keep your clearing number at hand!
  • Keep your personal statement in front of you for reference.
  • The lines will be busy so there might be a wait time. Don’t give up!
  • Check out any virtual open days or virtual tours in advance. This will help you form some questions and gather an idea of whether the university if right for you!

Depending on the outcome of the phone call, you can then update your application via your UCAS Track!

I’ve got an offer – what now?

You may receive an informal offer over the phone. In this case, and if permitted by the university or college, you can “add clearing choice” via UCAS Track. Ensure you’ve considered your options carefully before doing this – you can only accept one university!

2020: Clearing plus

For applicants in 2020, UCAS have introduced a process in which they can personally match you to courses you may be interested in based on the information you provided in your application. This will be weighed up against what universities and colleges may be looking for in a student.

Once clearing opens, a button will appear on your Track called “My Matches”; listing your top 50 course matches. This may come in handy as a useful starting point – but you can continue to do independent research if preferred.

Next steps

Whether or not you intend on applying to a course through clearing, it is always useful to plan for this eventuality, just in case! You can do this through browsing courses on other university websites that may have peaked your interest, and trying to find out what services they will offer during the clearing application period – take note of these! They may also have clearing open days – so keep an eye out for these through university websites.

Our partners’ clearing information can be found below:

For more information:

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