UCAS Clearing for International Students in the UK

As an international student, you have probably heard about a process called Clearing. You might have uncertainties as to what the process really is, who is eligible, or how it should be used. Let’s go through these details together below.

UCAS Clearing is a university application process for undergraduate students who have not received an offer from the university they applied to in the UK. It is basically designed to match universities that have unfilled placements, with students who do not have a university place. There are numerous reasons why students find Clearing useful. There might be cases when things simply do not go according to plan while applying to university, like instances when exams do not go as planned and thus students are unable to meet the requirements of their chosen university, or when students received better results than anticipated and want to change their original university choice. The Clearing system is also helpful when students have received an offer but do not want to take it up since they would like to study at another university. 

Can International Students Use Clearing?

The answer is yes, Clearing can be used by international students as well as domestic students, providing that you have applied through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service). Although domestic students typically apply to universities through Clearing, it has and can be used by international students as well. Through Clearing, you will be able to find thousands of unallocated places at UK universities, which you can choose from in case you did not receive an offer or your plans have, in one way or another, changed.

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A few things you should know, as an international student using Clearing, is that if you have firm and insurance offers from universities in the UK, you will not know your Clearing status until confirmations of your results have been received. If you do not have either firm or insurance offers, then you can apply to courses using Clearing as soon as you receive your results. As an international student, please make sure that you have enough time to apply for a UK visa (when applicable) and that you check your UCAS Track on the same day that you get your results. 

International students might also be asked to take a few tests, such as a language test, in order to secure your place and some universities might even require to interview you online. The best thing would be to check with the university you are interested in, so you can find out what their requirements are. Keep in mind that you are also required to pay an application fee to enter Clearing. 

How Should I Use Clearing as an International Student? 

The Clearing system operates in the same way for international students as it does for UK students. Although the timezone or knowledge of the English language (or lack thereof) can make the process a bit more challenging, it is nothing you cannot overcome. UCAS Clearing opens on 6 July and closes in mid-October (6 July – 20 October), as universities are trying to fill their numbers during this period of time.

Students who have not been able to meet the entry requirements or who have not received an offer from a UK university will be automatically entered into Clearing. This means that if an application has been made before June 30th and the student has not been able to secure a place, then he/she will automatically be entered into Clearing. Whatever the case may be, you will not be able to apply through Clearing without receiving your exam results. 

The exam results for the year 2020 begin with International Baccalaureate (Monday 6 July), BTEC and vocational courses (during July), Scottish Highers (potentially not later than Tuesday 4 August), and end with A-Levels and new BTEC courses (Thursday 13 August). The current coronavirus situation might alter the exam dates slightly in some instances, however, it is important to stay updated at all times and in contact with your school or college.

The moment you receive your exam results and find that they do not match the requirements for your offer, you can go to the UCAS website and confirm your Clearing eligibility. You should also do this in case you are late to apply for university. You will then receive a Clearing number which will be used by universities while evaluating your application. After receiving your Clearing number, you have the option of calling universities (either through phone or online) to make your application for available courses. 

A few tips to remember when applying through Clearing:

  • Be available on results day. 
  • Do your research thoroughly. Make a list of preferred UCAS Clearing courses/universities so it’s easier when going through listings. 
  • Keep checking UCAS Track. Check UCAS Track regularly, and if you become eligible, you will find an ‘add Clearing choice’ option on your Track Choices.
  • Call universities directly/right away. Keep in mind that some university courses might get filled quite quickly, so make sure you act wisely and in time. 
  • Check the official Clearing listings (on UCAS or university websites).
  • Do not give up. Consider different subjects or joint honours courses and keep checking whether universities have updated their course information.

Clearing Additions – Clearing Plus 2020

UCAS Clearing has introduced an update to their system and it comes by the name of Clearing Plus. Basically, through this process, students will be able to find more personalized choices when it comes to available courses. Students will be matched to courses that might be of interest to them. A button will appear in Track if you have started a new application or have not been placed, and the button will take you to your top 50 course matches according to your preferences. 

You will have the possibility of informing higher education institutions that you are interested in their course, and if you meet their requirements and they have vacancies left, they will contact you. In case you want to search for other options, apart from the ones listed in the new ‘My Matches’ button, then you will be able to find them using the Clearing search tool. (Read more about Clearing Plus here).

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