UCAS Clearing 2021: what is it, how to apply for university courses in Track - and when it opens on results day

Uni Clearing is an option for pupils who don’t receive the exam grades they need for the course they applied for, with Scottish universities like Strathclyde, Glasgow and Dundee having vacancies for some courses

By Jenna Macfarlane
Tuesday, 10th August 2021, 11:25 am

Pupils across Scotland are receiving their official grades following the cancellation of exams for the second consecutive year.

After many months of disruption to their education due to the Covid pandemic, the country’s senior pupils sat their assessments in May.

Grades were then decided by teachers and students were told what these were before the summer holidays.

UCAS Clearing is an option for pupils who don’t receive the necessary results in the Highers they’re retaking or their Advanced Highers for the university course they applied for (Getty Images)

The results were made official on Tuesday (10 August), with pupils being notified throughout the day of their achievements.

For many, these grades will determine whether they secure a place on their chosen university course - but you don’t have to panic if you’re disappointed thanks to the Clearing process.

Here’s what you need to know about it.

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What is Clearing?

Clearing is an option for pupils who don’t receive the necessary results in the Highers they’re retaking or their Advanced Highers for the university course they applied for.

It gives those who miss out on their first choice spot another chance to get into a different course and similarly those who didn’t receive any offers a chance to still go to university.

The UCAS system also allows universities to fill any remaining spots on their courses.

Scottish universities start publicising their Clearing vacancies a few weeks ahead of results day, and the number of places varies from place to place. Some universities have very few spots available, while others may have none at all.

There may also be restrictions on who these courses are open to.

You’re able to check with individual universities to see what courses they have available.

What is Clearing Plus?

Introduced last year by UCAS, Clearing Plus is a new tool allowing pupils to easily find their ideal course and enabling them to navigate through the thousands of options on offer.

It assigns university courses a score based on how relevant it deems them to be to you.

This means you are provided with a unique list which displays your best matched courses at the top.

To determine the list, UCAS looks at your original choices you applied for, as well as your qualifications and grades.

It states: “Universities and colleges have already told us what courses they’d like to make available in Clearing Plus (no, not all courses are included in your matches), and the entry requirements for them. Then, we analyse what students in Clearing went on to study in previous years.”

But pupils are still asked to search for a course themselves before coming to a decision.

Furthermore, if you show interest in a course it does not guarantee you a place.

How can I apply for Clearing?

To apply for Clearing you need to go through Ucas.

The UCAS Track website shows you whether or not you have been offered a place at university and provides you with a unique Clearing number.

You can apply if you didn’t receive any offers (or any you want to accept), you didn’t meet the condition of your offers or if you have declined your firm place on Track.

Before you add a Clearing choice in Track, you need to call the university and provide them with your Clearing number so they can look up your application and decide whether they’d accept you.

You should only add a Clearing choice one you have permission from the university.

Once you are in Clearing, the website will update your status to “You are now in Clearing” or “Clearing has started”.

Pupils can search and find vacancies which interest them via the UCAS official list. You’re able to filter these by location or course preference.

It has a handy guide on how to progress through Clearing.

When can I choose a Clearing course?

You are not able to add a Clearing course choice on UCAS Track until 2pm on SQA exam results day.

This means you have time after receiving your grades to think carefully about where and what you want to study and also to speak directly to universities you’re interested in.

Clearing for this year is open from 5 July to 19 October.

Pupils and parents can get further advice, information and guidance on exam results from the Skills Development Scotland website.