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Nervous About Clearing? Here Are Some Helpful Tips

This practical ‘survival guide’ could help you successfully navigate your way through university ‘Clearing’. 

Clearing is, essentially, an opportunity for students to explore their university options, matching applicants to university places that are yet to be filled. 

It’s a process that’s been open since June but which comes into sharp focus on August 13th - results day for A Level, BTEC and Access course students. 

And it’s not just for students without an offer from a university or college, or who’ve been affected by unexpected exam results, it’s also for anyone who’s simply had a last minute change of heart. 

For Sarah Weir, UK Student Recruitment Manager at Liverpool Hope University, the Clearing period is the most exciting time of the entire year. 

She explains: “Being able to tell someone that you’re going to change their life is a wonderful feeling.

“And you can rest assured that everyone in the Clearing team here at Hope takes as much joy from those phone calls as the students themselves do. 

“The concept of Clearing can be a little confusing and you might feel slightly apprehensive about trying to negotiate your way through it. 

“But it’s not nearly as intimidating as it sounds and as a University we want to try and make it as stress-free as possible.”

Here Sarah draws on years of Clearing experience to reveal some of her essential pieces of advice for both students and their families: 


Stay calm:

Sarah says: “No matter what your situation, or how unexpected your results might be, it’s important to remember that there are places at university for just about everyone. In the UK there is a large, diverse range of Higher Education institutions offering countless different courses and programmes. You might feel the urge to panic but try to remain calm, because you’ve still got a great chance of achieving your dream.”


Do your research: 

“Before you call any university, do your homework first. Go on and you’ll see it lists every university with places on Clearing. Crucially, UCAS will also show you all of the combined courses on offer, too, so that you don’t miss out on a combination that really suits you. Drill down into the course content, too, as that will help in your decision making process. If it’s a History degree, for example, does it cover the periods in time you’re really interested in?”


What type of university do you really want to go to, and where? 

“You’re going to be at university for three to four years - and it’s vital you’re in the right place for you to be happy there. I’d urge parents, and carers, to get involved in this decision making process as well. Ask yourself what you want from your university experience. Do you want to be part of a vast, sprawling campus or, as with Hope, part of a smaller village campus where you can live close to your lectures while still only being 20 minutes away from the city centre? Take note of the little things, too - if you’re expecting to take your car, is there somewhere to park? What are the sports facilities like? And are you interested in some of the other groups and societies?”


Don’t be nervous about calling us: 

“As a team, we’ve dealt with every emotion under the sun! We’ve had tears of sadness, tears of joy, jubilant families cheering in the background, and there are, of course, the wonderful Irish mammies! If you get upset on the phone, don’t worry - we know what you’re going through and we want to do all we can to help you.”


Designate a ‘proxy’ if you want: 

“If you don’t feel comfortable making the Clearing phone call yourself, you can actually let a parent or guardian take the strain. But remember that, for data protection reasons, you have to let the university know in advance so that you can authorise that conversation on your behalf. In our case, just email


Don’t feel pressured: 

“While some people approach Clearing having fully expected it and know precisely what they want, others are more vulnerable. And you should never fall for any ‘hard sell’ by a university. At Hope, we’re not a sales team. Everyone on the phone line here either works or studies at Hope and we’re not a call centre like you might get with other universities. That means we can give you a true insight into what the university is really like - and we will tell you if we don’t think you’re suited to the university. That might be down to what you expect from the course, or how you want the campus to feel, or it might be that we advise you to take a foundation year or access course before joining us.”


Understand what happens: 

“Here’s the entire process in a nutshell - and it’s very simple. 

Before you call, you need to be armed with some details - your name, date of birth, address,  as well as your qualifications and when you got them. We’ll tally your UCAS points, or equivalent, add them up, and if you meet the tariff score for entry, we can either make you an offer, or we can support you in your next steps - perhaps offering an access course or advising about local colleges. We also make our offers over the phone, so it’s a really quick turnaround - often just five or ten minutes. You’ll then receive an email which will give you all the information about your next steps, including accommodation, funding and helping you to learn more about the city.”

Ask around: 

“It’s good to get a genuine flavour of what university life is like, particularly if you’re not going to have a pre-existing friendship group in the city. One good way of doing that is through ‘Unibuddy’, a platform where you can chat online, live, with students from the university across a full range of different degree courses. You can also visit The Student Room website, where you can use the forums to either ask questions, or read answers to similar questions posed in the past. You’ll find lots of parent interaction on The Student Room, too, which could be really useful for you as a family.”


You don’t have to be registered with UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service): 

“If you haven’t already signed up with UCAS, don’t let that put you off. If you’ve never engaged with them, you don’t have to. Around 40 per cent of the calls we receive during Clearing are from people who don’t have a UCAS registration, and that might be because they’re mature learners who are changing careers, or they might be people who initially wanted to enter an apprenticeship but who were unable to do so. Just pick up the phone and give us a call.”


If you’re currently holding an offer with a university, you can still call Clearing: 

“You might be sitting on an offer from a university - but it doesn’t tie you to that institution. We’re hearing from a number of students who are, for example, concerned at how little contact they’ve with their university during the Covid-19 crisis and have therefore lost confidence in that institution. Others might have changed their mind about what part of the country they want to live. In these circumstances you need to remember there’s a ‘self-release’ button on UCAS which will inform the offering university of your decision.”


Make use of ‘priority’ systems: 

“At Hope we’ve got a ‘Priority Pass’ system which lets students register with us long before they get their results. We take all the information we need - minus your actual results - days or weeks in advance and then we call you directly on results day and talk you through your options. We hope it saves a lot of time and faff on the day itself.”


** Liverpool Hope University’s Clearing line is: 0151 291 3636

*** Or email ple email:


Published on 11/08/2020