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The International Student's Guide to Clearing

Want to apply to study for a university degree in the UK? UCAS clearing can help you get admitted even if you miss the admission dates.

John MacLachlan

The rules of clearing for international students are the same as they are for native students. You are allowed to make only one clearing application at a time.

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Want to apply to study for a university degree in the UK? Wherever you live in the world, places for international students are growing every year. Unlike home students, whose places are quite strictly capped, places for international students can be more plentiful, particularly at the more popular universities. And just because you aren’t resident in the UK, don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can’t apply to uni through university clearing.

What is UCAS clearing?

This is a system operated by UCAS, the UK organisation that processes all applications for university places. It runs after the standard application cycle has closed, from June 30 each year, up to around the 20th September.
You can apply through clearing as an international student if you:
  • Have not made an application through UCAS at all. Simply go onto the UCAS website and start the application process. This will be routed automatically through clearing.
  • Have made an application through the standard application cycle but you do not hold any offer from a British university. It doesn’t matter whether your choices declined you or you rejected them. If you have no offer, you can make an application through clearing.

Using UCAS track for clearing

Once you are in the UCAS system you will have your log in details and you need to check the progress of your application in UCAS track. If you are already in the system, this will show whether you are eligible for clearing. If you are, follow the link to start your clearing application.

How to choose a course/university for clearing

It makes little difference when you start your application – whether it’s earlier in the year or after clearing has started, you still need to research your course and the place you wish to go to.
International students can access university websites and course information on UCAS from anywhere in the world and your own college or school should have tutors who can provide you with help and advice.
If you have any questions, email the university you are interested in and you will receive specific information within a few days.
Once clearing has started, the UCAS website has a list of course places still available but remember that the lists for home students and international students are different. During clearing 2012, many courses had only limited places available for UK students but there were still hundreds available for students coming into the UK from elsewhere in the world, particularly those outside Europe.

The process of clearing for international students

The rules of clearing are much the same for an international student as for a home student. You can make only one clearing application at once; you need to find out if you’ve been accepted or rejected before you can make a second application.
Once you have been offered a place, you can choose to accept or decline it.

How long does clearing operate?

Just the few weeks that cover July, August and the first three weeks in September. If you apply after the 20th September, your application will go into the cycle for entry into courses beginning in the autumn of the following year.
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