If you don’t get the grades or the exam results to get into your preferred choice of university then it can feel like the end of the world. It’s not and you can still go to university through clearing.

This guide will explain what is clearing, which universities take part in clearing and your options.

So take a deep breath, get organised and you can still get a place on a great course at a fantastic university.

And when you get there don’t forget to take advantage of the best student discounts with us!


According to UCAS, clearing is the way universities and colleges fill vacant places on their courses. On results day, you can use the UCAS to find these courses and how you can apply to them.

This is how it works:

  • ​On Results Day, check the UCAS Track site as early as possible to see the status of your applications. If you’re eligible for Clearing, it will say so and you’ll be provided with a Clearing number (which you’ll have to give to universities you call).
  • If you’re not sure about the status of your uni place, contact the university directly to get a confirmation from them. They’ll have extra staff on hand taking calls on the day but be patient if you don’t get through straight away.
  • If you’re eligible for Clearing, you can start phoning universities through their special Clearing phone lines to speak to one of their advisers – or someone from that course’s department – about the course you’re interested in.
  • UCAS will be displaying live updates of all courses available through Clearing. When you see a course you’re interested in, search for them on the link below to dig a little deeper into the modules you’ll study, what graduates have gone on to do and what current students have to say – after all, they should know!
  • Some universities may just ask for your grades and make a decision based on these; others may ask a few questions about why you’re interested in that particular course, a bit like a mini-interview.
  • They’ll tell you whether they will accept you there and then, after which you’ll usually have 24 hours to accept or look elsewhere.
  • Don’t feel pressured to accept.  If you want to take a year out and reapply or resit then you just do that!  Speak to your local Careers Advisor for guidance.
  • Make sure you look at the Squirrels Guide to University Towns and Cities so you know where to go for the Ultimate Discounts for Students.
  • Enjoy the planning of your new City, be prepared to find your Prince or Princess Charming, make new friends for life and you’re also safe in the knowledge that you won’t be rooming with a wannabe Regina George or Draco Malfoy.  After all, that’s why fate rescued you in such a dramatic way!

UCAS Clearing


As previously mentioned, any university which has courses it needs to fill, will take part in clearing. It’s interesting to note that some universities from the Russell Group take part. Students shouldn’t dismiss their local university or college, especially if they offer more vocational degrees which are sought after by employers.

If you didn’t get the exam results you wanted, fear not Clearing can find you a way forward


According to the reputable timeshighereducation.com site, the following universities offered places in clearing in 2019:

Remember, when choosing your clearing university you will want to consider the following:

  • Do I want to live near home or further away
  • What is the course like?
  • Is it a big city or a small town?
  • Are there any grants or bursaries?
  • What is the reputation of the university and the course?
  • What are my employment prospects with this course?

Our student blog covers lots of these topics in depth.



With the COVID 19 pandemic and the problems this has caused in education, your clearing choice may well be different this year. Exams have been cancelled, predictive grades may have to be used and the way that clearing operates in 2020 could well be different.

We’ve found the UCAS website and Office for Students to be good places for up to date information.

There is a lot of consideration for universities, the government and schools to make before announcing what is happening to clearing in 2020, but be rest assured, a fair way will be found.

When we have the latest news, we will let you know. And make sure you keep checking in to our Student Discount Squirrel home page for the latest ways to save


Here are some of the most popular questions we get asked:

What is UCAS clearing process?

It’s the way to find a suitable university course if you didn’t get the exam results required by your first choices.

Can you apply through clearing without UCAS?

Yes, but UCAS is the recognised way and often the most successful route.

What is Clearing?

It is the process of getting into a university when you haven’t got the required grades for your initial preferred choices.

Can I apply to more than one university in Clearing?

Yes, you can but decisions typically need to be made very quickly, so don’t be too picky.

When Do I need to Use Clearing?

Students need to use clearing when their exam results don’t allow them to get into their preferred choices of university. If your exam results are good enough for your chosen university place then you don’t need to use clearing.

If I Need Clearing What Are The Next Steps?

The next steps should be to go to the UCAS website and use their search tool to find clearing vacancies. You may also want to browse the subject guides to make sure it is the right course as there might be some popular subjects which have greater competition. UCAS will also have the additional next steps to take too.

Should I Stick to the Same Subject Choice?

This can be a positive position to be in as you might want to change, especially if it’s a popular subjects. Use the browse subject guides to do some thorough research. The browse subject guides are also useful when explaining to universities why you want to study a different subject.

Will I Still Get Student Finance?

Yes you will still get student finance and your new university clearing may also have more grants and bursaries.


Going through clearing can seem scary – but fear not – you are good hands and we are sure you will end up having a blast wherever you end up!

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