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28th Feb 2017
What is Clearing?
Clearing can be useful if you don't get the grades you need for your chosen university course as it provides the opportunity to find places on similar courses, either at the same university or a different one.
It's not just useful for students, Clearing also allows universities to fill any vacancies they have on their courses. Institutions don't want to be undersubscribed at the start of the academic year.
When does it start?
Once exam results are released Clearing gets into full swing. A-Level results are released on 17 August while Scottish SQA results are published on 8 August, however students can get ahead of the game by searching via the UCAS website for a list of available providers and courses.
This may be particularly useful if you're not confident in getting the grades you need or you want to reconsider your options.
What's on offer?
There are more than 360 universities and colleges offering places through clearing in 2017, with many being provided by some of the UK's best institutions.
Of the so-called Russell Group universities, 18 out of 24 have availability, with a total of 4,712 or 82% of courses available through Clearing.
The top university to offer places through clearing, according to the 2016-17 Times Higher Education (THE) World Rankings, is The University of Edinburgh. Ranked the 6th best institution in the UK and the 27th best in the world, the university is offering Clearing places on 14 different courses, although these predominately focus on post graduate qualifications in education.
King's College London, ranked 7th in the UK, according to THE World Rankings, is offering a broader range of courses. Everything from full-time undergraduate degrees in Chemistry and History, to Nutrition and Music are up for grabs.
Some of the highest ranked institutions, according to THE World Rankings, to offer courses through Clearing include:
The University of Edinburgh: UK Ranking - 6th; World Ranking - 27th; 2017 Clearing Courses 14
King's College London: UK Ranking - 7th; World Ranking - 36th; 2017 Clearing Courses 70
University of Manchester: UK Ranking - 8th; World Ranking - 55th; 2017 Clearing Courses 215
University of Bristol : UK Ranking - 9th; World Ranking - 71st; 2017 Clearing Courses 101
University of Glasgow: UK Ranking - 11th; World Ranking - 88th; 2017 Clearing Courses 316
Source: Times Higher Educaiton World University Rankings, UCAS
The most courses on offer by a single institution is 1,080 provided by the University of Leeds, which represents availability on 87% of all its 2017 courses.
It's worth noting Clearing shouldn't just be seen as a route into university for students who missed their expected grades.
Last year the number of applicants placed through Clearing increased to its highest ever level. In total 64,900 applicants were placed through Clearing, an increase of 0.8% year-on-year. With 535,200 applicants being placed in higher education in 2016, this represents 12% of all acceptances.
With Clearing more popular than ever, availability is expected to change regularly once it gets underway, so it's important to hit the ground running if it's a route you're considering.
1. Make sure you're available
It sounds like an obvious one, but make sure you're around and not already committed to other events, or on holiday.
2. Consider your options
Talk to friends and family and don't be afraid to ask for advice. Try to consider why you chose a particular course in the first instance.
3. Do your research in advance
Try to look at alternative courses and universities and save them to your bookmarks for future reference. Check up-to date availability via the UCAS website and note down opening times of Clearing lines so you can get in early.
4. Have all your details to hand
Before you hit the phones make sure you have all your details to hand, including your Clearing number, UCAS number and A-Level/GCSE results. It's also useful to have your personal statement to hand so you can easily refer to it.
5. Prepare some constructive questions
It's always best to prepare for the worst. Although the process may turn out to be simple, be prepared just in case the phone call turns into a mini interview. Think of answers to questions they may pose like - Why do you want to study here for this course? However, also ask some questions yourself, interviews work best when they're a two-way conversation and it's a great chance to alleviate any concerns you may have.
6. Make notes
Make sure you have a pen and paper to hand so you can take the names and phone numbers of those you speak to, just in case you need to call them back.
7. Start the day early
Once you've done your research, hopefully ahead of time, get on the phones early. Places are expected to go quickly so be ready to move fast on the day.
8. Confirm as much as you can
E-mail is a great way to limit the potential for miscommunication. Try and confirm as much as you can over email, including how long the offer is valid for.
Next steps - Finding accommodation
Once you've confirmed your place, via Clearing or not, the next step is finding somewhere great to live.
Houses of multiple occupation
A house of multiple occupation (HMO) is one that's rented out by at least 3 people and share facilities like a kitchen and bathroom. The average price for a HMO bed in the UK (ex-London) is £85 per person per week (pppw). Therefore, HMOs can represent a more affordable place to live when compared to private purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA), which on average is priced at £114 pppw (ex-London).
Purpose-built student accommodation
Private PBSA usually consist of larger blocks of accommodation, although sizes do vary. These can be a mix of cluster flats and individual studio apartments, but typically come equipped with more facilities compared to HMOs. For these added amenities students can usually expect to pay a premium, with the average PBSA room (ex-London) for 2017 34% more expensive than the average HMO.
If you're still looking for accommodation StuRents.com is a great place to start. It's the UK's largest student accommodation portal listing over 500k student beds nationwide so there's plenty to choose from. Students can shortlist favourite properties and enquire for multiple rooms in just one click, taking the hassle out of what can sometimes be a long and drawn out process. Alternatively, if you have somewhere in mind but need someone to live with, StuRents.com provides a housemate forum where you can meet and chat to new roommates.
If you are still looking for a bed it's important to work out what you can afford. Prices can vary dramatically depending on location and accommodation type, so having a budget in mind is a good starting point.
For example, some of the cheapest student accommodation can be found in Sunderland, with an average price of £62 pppw. Meanwhile outside of London, Cambridge has some of the highest priced student accommodation with a student bed on average costing £155 pppw.
Clearing can be fast paced and frantic, but it's important to prepare yourself if it's a route your considering.
By doing the necessary research ahead of time, you'll be in the best possible position to find a place on a course you'll love, in a location you'll call home for the next 3-4 years.