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THE UK: Applying to University - Must read

Are international students eligible for Clearing?

The clearing process in the UK can sometimes seem a little confusing, especially for international students unsure of how it all works. We've put together a comprehensive guide dealing with all the elements of the process so that you'll be ready to

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As an international student, it’s possible that you may have heard of a process called clearing. Although you may be aware of it, it may also be true that you’re not entirely sure what clearing is or how it relates to you. We’re here to take you through all aspects of the process, demystify any preconceptions that you may have and equip you with all the necessary knowledge should you go through clearing yourself.


What is clearing? 

First and foremost, it’s important to define what exactly clearing is. It’s a university application process for undergraduate students who have missed out on a place at their preferred UK university. This may be as a result of a number of reasons:


  • Your exam results didn't go quite as expected
  • Your exams were better than you thought (adjustment)
  • You haven't received a firm offer from a university
  • You haven't taken up an offer you have received


Clearing is designed to address all the aforementioned. It helps you to alter, adjust and revise your choices. 



The process runs for the duration of July through to mid-October, as universities look to fill their student cohort for the academic year. Students looking for a university place have the chance to find an institution and pursue the degree course of their choice. So, although not getting the grades or offer that you may have wanted or expected may be disappointing, it’s not an insurmountable setback to your academic aspirations.


In 2018 the number of EU students placed at UK universities through clearing was 30,350 with the non-EU student number sitting at 38,330. This means that the international student cohort finding places and attending UK universities, after having gone through clearing, is 68,680.


What about international students and clearing?

International students are eligible for the clearing process, provided that the original application was made through the Universities and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS). It’s always a good idea to double-check with the university of your choice, prior to lodging your application, about the procedure. For the majority of students, going through clearing is a result of not receiving an offer from their first-choice institutions.


In the event that an application has been made prior to June 30th and no offers have been made, students are automatically entered into clearing. This would also apply to cases where you’ve been made an offer but have decided that you no longer want to attend the institution. Don’t forget that you will need to ensure you’ve paid the GBP 22 application fee to enter clearing and the GBP 11 application fee if you had originally applied to a single institution prior to clearing.


The clearing process

Once you have received your results and, in the event, that they do not match the requirements for your offer, you can head onto the UCAS website and confirm your eligibility for clearing. This is also the case if you haven’t applied to a university in time. If you are eligible for clearing you’ll get a clearing number, which is a reference used by universities in the evaluation of your application.


As soon as you have your clearing number you’ll be able to contact universities directly to make your application for available courses, this may be done both telephonically and online. You can get the relevant contact details from the UCAS website, including in the event that you’re applying from outside of the country.


You also have the option of making use of the WhatUni website which can help you find the clearing courses available. Remember to always have all the relevant information on hand, such as your UCAS number, clearing number and grades. You’ll also need to be able to motivate why you’d like to pursue the course that you’re applying for.


Once an offer is made through clearing you may only have a few days to decide to accept or decline. Don’t forget that you can only apply for one clearing option at a time and need to wait for the outcome of an application, before making another.


Making your clearing decision

Entering the clearing process can be quite a daunting experience with the need to make quick decisions about which new course you want to undertake and where. In some cases, you’ll be making a decision within a couple of days, something which may previously have seen you deliberate for months.


There are a few things that you can do to make the clearing process a little less stressful. Firstly, you can refer to the research you’d done on universities and courses prior to clearing. You may have some prospectuses, documents and notes that can inform your decision-making process.


Secondly, you may find that focusing on a region or area of the country helps. You can look for institutions and appropriate courses in a location that you’d be keen to study in. It can be an important factor in studying abroad.


For example, if you’ve had your eye on London, there are several institutions in the capital and surrounding areas that you could choose from. Naturally, you’d want to ensure that you’ve chosen a course that you wish to pursue and is of the requisite quality.


Lastly, it’s always a good idea to look at university websites and thoroughly interrogate their offering and courses. There may be a parallel or similarity with the previous institution and course of your choice. It’s always a good idea to make an informed decision, based on solid information and thorough research.


Start your study journey

If at any point in the clearing process you require extra help, advice or have an enquiry, universities usually have dedicated teams on hand to assist. You can also make use of the UCAS website, WhatUni and The Complete Univerisity Guide for more information.


Don’t forget, there’s also always social media channels you can make use of to find out what you need to know.  Although clearing has sometimes attracted negative connotations, it is in fact a great opportunity to fulfil your study abroad aspirations and begin a new life chapter.    




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