Monday, 12 August 2013

Clearing: making the call

If you’re reading this blog, chances are your status in Track says “You are in Clearing”. If not then maybe you’re preparing for every eventuality. Whether you’re expecting to use Clearing or not, the steps you need to follow to get a place on a course are the same: use the Clearing vacancy search at to find courses, contact unis to ask if they’ll consider your application and then if you’re offered a place, add it as your Clearing choice in Track.

Sounds pretty straightforward, right? I mean, if you find a course that’s right for you on results day, and you make a good impression on the phone, then the uni offers you a place, you could be done with Clearing by mid-afternoon. But that depends on a few ifs, a few unknowns. So right now we’re going to tackle how you can make a good impression, and the key to this is being prepared.

Here, six universities and colleges tell you what you can expect from your conversations with them in Clearing – what they’ll want you to know, the types of questions they’ll ask, and equally as important – what you should ask them. Use their advice to make notes to keep with you before you pick up the phone and dial, and you’ll feel more confident when you come to tell them why you’d make a great student for their course.

Alix Delany – Assistant Head of Admissions, University of East Anglia 

Alix Delany, University of East Anglia
I’ve taken part in many results days whilst working in admissions at the University of East Anglia.  I get a huge sense of satisfaction when a student secures a place through clearing. I enjoy getting to talk to the student on the phone and I know that I will be meeting them in a month’s time, when they join the university.

If you are in clearing on results day, start with a positive attitude.

Most universities will have vacancies showing on and on their own websites. Check both to see what’s on offer and how the university wants to be contacted. For us, it’s best to call.

Remember, the people at the end of the phone line want to help you. Typically you will be asked for your UCAS Personal ID and your results.  You may also be asked for certain GCSE subjects and grades, so it’s worth having details of them to hand.  The person you are talking to will take you through some questions about the subjects you studied and the grades achieved. If you need something repeated or you have questions don’t be rushed, take your time.

If you are offered a place, ask how long the offer is guaranteed for and what happens next.   For example, at UEA we send an email confirming our offer with accommodation details and how you can visit if you want to see us before you make your final decision.

If you put the phone down and realise you forgot to ask something, don’t panic, call back.

Emma Dermott – Social Media Officer, University for the Creative Arts

Emma Dermott,
University for the Creative Arts
Don’t be afraid to speak to university admissions teams in advance, they are there to help you and are the best source of information. Introduce yourself and talk through your individual circumstances. There is a lot they can do to help students leading up to results day.

We recommend you ask as many questions as you need to, including concerns with your grades, whether you’ve changed your mind about a course, student loans, entry requirements or fees. The bottom line is: don’t be afraid to ask.

When you call, have your UCAS ID, your Clearing number, the codes of the courses you’re interested in as well as your email address and telephone number close to hand.

Admissions teams will ask you what you want to do, what grades you received and what expectations you have of university. This is to ensure they give you the best possible advice.

Top tips we firmly believe in are:
  1. Don’t wait! If you’ve already received your results then call us now – we are ready to speak to you about your options.
  2. Prepare and research your options – be proactive and identify your interests in advance.
  3. Have details of your qualifications in front of you when you call. 
  4. And finally, we’re happy to speak to your mum/dad/guardian afterwards, but we need to speak to you first! 
Our short video about the Clearing process also contains lots of advice to help you.

Bernard Strutt - Head of UK/EU Recruitment at The University of Manchester

Bernard Strutt,
The University of Manchester
Information you should have to hand 
If you're exploring opportunities though clearing you should have your clearing number and exam results to hand. Remember to check UCAS Track - your eligibility for Clearing and your designated Clearing number will be shown in your account. It's also a good idea to have a pen and paper to hand to take down any details. If you’ve already signed up to have email updates about potential Clearing vacancies at Manchester then make sure you’ve noted down the course you’re interested in
Making the most of your phone call
We recognise that clearing can be a little daunting and we encourage you to call on the support of parents, teachers and advisors. But don't be afraid to pick up the phone yourself. Our team at The University of Manchester need to speak to you, not your parents or teachers. We want to understand your motivations and your aspirations and to make an assessment about whether you'll be a good fit for the course. 

Whilst some students forget to keep essential information to hand, the most common mistake I see is students being too quick to pick up the phone. We appreciate you'll be keen to speak to universities to avoid missing out on the best places, but don't rush. Even a couple of minutes preparation can make all the difference in helping make a good first impression and demonstrating that you're a credible candidate. Take the time to understand your options and research the right university for you. 
Questions you can expect to be asked
Whilst admissions staff can see your full application, expect to be asked to confirm the qualifications you've taken and the results you've received. Remember you may be speaking directly to an academic admissions tutor, so it's important that you convey some understanding of the subject and express your motivations clearly. You may also be asked about extracurricular activities and experiences. Think back to your personal statement and how your skills and experiences relate to the course that you're applying to.
Questions you should ask
Think about the questions you asked when you first made your application. What and how will you be taught, and how will you be assessed? Ask about course variants –  re you interested in studying abroad or gaining some industry experience as part of the course?

Stacy Lloyd – Admissions Manager, York St John University

York St John University
Here at York St John University we understand how daunting the Clearing process can be, however, if you fully prepare, we can make it as stress-free as possible! Here are our top tips to help you:

First of all, we can’t speak to family members on your behalf – we need to speak to you as it’s you who will be applying to the university.

Make sure you have your Personal ID and your Clearing number ready – we can’t log you on to our systems without it and you will be flustered trying to find it whilst on the phone to us. 

Remember to have your results close by – sounds simple but this helps speed the process up.

There are several standard questions that we will ask:  what recent study do you have and does it meet the minimum institution requirements (A Levels and GCSE)? Do you need accommodation? Do you need to speak to someone in disability services?

You can ask questions too! Write some key questions down before you call us and use them as a prompt throughout the conversation. Good questions are: what support is available? Will I get accommodation? What financial support will I receive? If you are given an offer, don’t be side-tracked!  If you still have questions, make sure you ask them.

Finally, we know it is a lot to take in but it is really important that you pay attention to what you are told on the phone. There may be things you need to do and you need to be aware of what they are.

Lydia Wakefield – Senior Partnership & Recruitment Officer, Kaplan Holborn College

If you didn’t quite get the results you were hoping for, DON’T panic. If you’re going to use Clearing, the list of courses is available in The Telegraph, at and on university and college websites. 55,700 students accepted places through clearing in 2012, so you certainly won’t be alone!

Lydia Wakefield,
Kaplan Holborn College
Here’s our advice to help you before and during your phone calls in Clearing.

Before you pick up the phone, remember…
  • Have your UCAS ID number ready, it will be one of the first things you are asked for.
  • Make sure your phone is charged and call from a quiet place (you don’t want it to cut out just as you’re about to be made an offer!).
  • Ask admissions staff lots of questions about the university and courses. 
  • Make notes – this will help you make an informed decision if you are offered a place. 

What questions do we ask?
  • “What is your UCAS ID?”
  • “Are you already holding an offer?” If you are you will not be eligible to apply through Clearing – if you know you haven’t met the conditions of your offer you’ll become eligible if this changes to unsuccessful.
  • Personal details – so have your contact info close by.
  • "What are your qualifications?” Have these on hand when you call. 
  • “Why are you interested in the university and course?”

You don’t need to accept the first offer you get – most institutions will hold a place for you for an agreed period. But when you are accepted on to a course that is right for you, the university or college will issue you with an unconditional offer. Your university or college will send you details on what you need to do next. Read it carefully in case there is anything you need to do before your start.

Check out Kaplan Holborn College’s website for more advice from us about Clearing.

Bhavesh Varsani – Admissions Process Adviser, University of Westminster

Don't panic
If you do need to call, getting through to universities on results day can be quite stressful. Persist and eventually you will get through. At the University of Westminster we have 70 team members in our Clearing Enquiry Team to assist you. 

University of Westminster
Be prepared
Make sure you have enough credit and battery on your phone. Our 0800 027 9777 number can save you from a huge phone bill, however some mobile phone operators will charge.

Keep your UCAS Personal ID to hand. Some universities will also give you a reference number specific to them – we give applicants an eight digit Westminster ID number, so if you get one of these make sure you write it down. Often we will ask you to speak to the admissions office or an academic for a final decision.  It’s a good idea to take their name and number before you are put through, just in case you get cut off and you need to call them back.

If you have retaken your GCSEs you may be asked to wait for your results before a final offer can be made to you. It’s still worth calling on the day, as we’d still be happy to talk to you.

If you got your results last year we may ask you what you have been doing since then, so be prepared to answer such questions.

Be available
Some of our courses, such as Electronic Engineering, will want to interview applicants before making an offer. Other universities and colleges may differ, and it’s a good idea to ask about this in case you need to change your plans so that you’re available.

You should be contactable all day on results day, so make sure you have access to your emails, as we will email you to confirm any offers we make to you. Remember to regularly check your junk email folders too and add to your safe senders domain list. If you can, provide us with two telephone numbers just in case we need to call you. Good luck!

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