Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Dispelling the myths about A level results day and Clearing

Isn’t it funny how every year the same myths about A level results day and Clearing appear? We do our best to stamp them out but somehow they still do the rounds. I mean, who exactly is circulating them? And why?

We’ll probably never know, but you can get the truth behind the rumours right here in our dedicated myth-
busting blog post. And after reading it, please help your fellow soon-to-be-students by tweeting, sharing, blogging about and – if necessary – shouting these results day and clearing facts to anyone who’ll listen!

  1. TRACK DOES NOT UPDATE AT MIDNIGHT or at any time the night before A level results day. Neither does it show whether you’ve got in to your uni at 06:00, or 07:00. It’s at 08:00 on A level results day. Honest! Here’s the proof.
  2. YOU WILL NOT SEE YOUR A LEVEL RESULTS IN TRACK. Your school or college will give these to you. We’ve got lots of info on our website to explain exactly what happens to your results, so take a look if you want to know more!
  3. CLEARING VACANCIES CHANGE ALL THE TIME. That means they can disappear and appear throughout Clearing, as and when places are filled and become available. The universities and colleges update their own vacancies, so as soon as they change the status of one of their courses, this’ll be reflected in the vacancy search.
  4. UNIVERSITIES CAN’T UPDATE EVERYONE’S APPLICATION AT THE SAME TIME. Although I’m sure they wish they could, and have all their applicants’ offers changed to the correct status in an instant, it just doesn’t work like that. Some offers will change later than others. So the moral of the story is, if you get the grades you need and your offer hasn’t changed to unconditional, don’t worry about calling UCAS or the uni straight away. Chances are your offer will update during the day. In some instances you might need to contact the uni though – you can find out more on our “Still waiting?” page.
  5. YOU CAN APPLY FOR ANY COURSES YOU’RE INTERESTED IN IF YOU’RE IN CLEARING. Even if you originally applied for marine biology and you’ve now realised that food science is your calling, there’s nothing to stop you contacting unis to ask for a place on their course. There’s no guarantee they’ll consider you, but you can most definitely ask. Don’t ask, don’t get.
  6. YOUR CLEARING NUMBER WILL APPEAR IN TRACK AS SOON AS YOU’RE IN CLEARING. And not before. If you’re not in Clearing there’s no point calling UCAS to ask for a Clearing number – this is only generated once you’re not holding any offers, and as soon as we’ve got it, you’ll have it!
  7. YOU’RE ONLY ELIGIBLE FOR CLEARING IF YOU HAVE NO OFFERS. If you’ve been accepted by your firm or insurance choice, this doesn’t mean you can go ahead and use Clearing. In some situations you may be able to, but this requires a conversation with the uni you’re placed with to ask if you can let go of their offer to use Clearing instead. This video FAQ explains.
  8. YOU CAN’T CHANGE YOUR PERSONAL STATEMENT. If you’re applying for courses in Clearing that are different to your original choices, and the unis would like you to write a new statement, then you’d need to send them a copy directly.
  9. CLEARING IS NOT JUST FOR PEOPLE WITH LOW EXAM RESULTS. There are lots of reasons why people use Clearing - some will have declined all their offers, others might not have received any offers in the first place, perhaps if they applied for particularly competitive courses, and some apply after 30 June and automatically enter Clearing.

  11. THERE ARE GOOD COURSES IN CLEARING. Let’s get this straight; absolutely any course can enter Clearing if the uni has places they want to fill. Even some of the most popular subjects can be found in the Clearing vacancy search, so don’t write off Clearing because you don’t think you’ll find what you’re looking for.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Universities and offer-making to ethnic minority applicants

Today’s media coverage has highlighted differences in offers made to applicants across ethnic groups by some universities, as well as the difficult issues surrounding the use of individual-level data for research and other purposes.

Dr Mark Corver, UCAS’ Head of Analysis and Research explains that UCAS' analysis indicates that differences in offer rates are largely explained by grades and the course’s popularity.

He also describes UCAS' recently published analysis on application and entry rates by ethnic group and how powerful data can in fact be provided without personal disclosure.

Competition for offers at some universities can be very intense - your chance of getting an offer can vary five-fold across just a few A level grades. This means even small differences in attainment between different applicant groups will quickly show up as a difference in offer rates.

When University of Durham researchers described their findings last year, we immediately looked in detail at offer-making to applicants of different ethnic groups. We found that although the chances of getting an offer do differ, the large majority of these differences can be attributed to the popularity of the course applied to and the relative strength of entry qualifications. 

These factors don’t account for all the differences though. The offer rate to Black applicants is around 2 percentage points lower than expected. We found a similar effect for Asian applicants.  No one should be put off applying by these differences which are equivalent to much less than a single A level grade out of a set of three - but even these small differences warrant further investigation.

We have also recently expanded our reporting of application and entry rates to cover ethnic group. For example, our 2013 End of Cycle report (pages 76-79) showed trends in entry rates by ethnic group and background to different types of universities. This showed young entry rates for all ethnic groups increased last year and the entry rates to the most selective universities for Black young people from 'free school meal' (and other backgrounds) increased very substantially in 2013. We will report on this again for 2014.

This new work is possible because of the recent investment we’ve made in capturing key information such as A level grades in a systematic form suitable for analysis. 

There is a growing appreciation that providing detailed individual-level data presents a high risk of individuals' personal details being disclosed. We've been tackling this problem through designing new ways of commissioning powerful, detailed aggregated data that does not identify individuals and so can be accessed and shared widely. We will be providing more details on this in autumn 2014.

The Exam Results Helpline – helping you face the unexpected

Need advice about your options? Call 0808 100 8000

If your exam results aren’t what you were expecting, it might feel like your world’s been turned upside down. Whatever your situation, the Exam Results Helpline (ERH) can offer you free and independent, expert advice. Meet four students who are glad they made the decision to call the ERH.

Didn’t get the grades you needed? Rohan's story...

Rohan didn’t get the grades he needed due to illness. With some help from an ERH adviser and the support of his family, he successfully applied through Clearing for another course. 

No offers? Tanya’s story...

Tanya’s exam results were good enough for her to study medicine but unfortunately she didn’t have any offers. After speaking to a member of the ERH team she decided to take a gap year and now she’s on course to follow her dream of becoming a doctor. 

Had a change of heart? Tryfan’s story...

Tryfan didn’t know what to do when he realised the course he’d accepted wasn’t right for him. With expert advice from the ERH however, he’s now studying a subject he loves. 

In Clearing? Ollie’s story...

Ollie felt lost when his exam results were lower than he expected. Calling the ERH was the right thing to do, and by talking through his options he was accepted on a course in Clearing. 

Contact the Exam Results Helpline from 5 - 23 August on 0808 100 8000.

Unexpected exam results – what next?

Results day arrives and it’s the moment of truth: Have you achieved what you needed to get in to college or university?

Regardless of your situation, don’t panic, there are always options. It’s a good idea to talk them over with someone who can help you make or adjust your plans, and that’s what the Exam Results Helpline is for. Whether you have questions about gap years, skills and experience, vocational qualifications, retakes and re-marks, moving out of home or finding employment – qualified and experienced careers advisers are at the end of the phone to support you with independent advice about your next steps. You can meet four students who are glad they got in touch with the Exam Results Helpline on results day in our blog post "The Exam Results Helpline - helping you face the unexpected".

John Carberry, a Careers Adviser for the Exam Results Helpline shares valuable advice on the different options to consider if your exams results aren’t what you expected. 

Pursuing university or college
If you only narrowly missed being offered a place at your chosen college or university, you may still be accepted so be sure to check your status in UCAS Track.
John Carberry - Careers Adviser, Exam Results Helpline

If you find yourself in Clearing you’ll need to look for courses you’re interested in that have vacancies and start speaking to universities and colleges to find out if they can offer you a place. Everything you need to know about how to use Clearing is on the UCAS website

Better grades than expected? Terrific! 
If you’ve met and exceeded the conditions of your firm choice, you’re eligible for Adjustment, which means it’s possible you could swap your course. You must register through UCAS Track, and again you’ll need to do a bit of telephone work. It’s important to be prompt if you want to use Adjustment – you only have a few days. 

Taking a gap year
Whether you’re planning to reapply for university next year or head straight into the job market, a gap year used as ‘constructive time-out’ can be great for your CV. It could give you the opportunity to ‘test-drive’ a career, develop your confidence and independence and build up your skills and experience – and ultimately make you a more valuable and competitive candidate for college, university or a job at the end of it. You could even earn some money along the way!

You have many options – voluntary or paid work in the UK or abroad, internships, work experience, travelling or a Year in Industry are just a few. 

If you’re unsure what you want to do, a gap year may provide you with the time and experience to help decide. If you want to return to education, remember to be aware of application deadlines!

Getting your exam papers re-marked
If you don’t agree with your exam results and you want to explore getting your papers re-marked, speak to your school or college IMMEDIATELY, especially if your place depends on the overall grade. There are strict deadlines in place and support from your school or college is essential.

Re-taking your qualifications 
If you think that you could have got a better grade in specific subjects or modules then there might be an opportunity for you to resit the exam, and reapply for uni next year. You need to speak to your subject teacher about this as it’s ultimately the school or college’s decision and they will organise next steps. 

Vocational qualifications
If you know what you want to do career-wise and you like the idea of earning while you learn, this could be a great choice for you. 

Vocational qualifications such as apprenticeships, HNDs and NVQs are credible, well-valued work-based training programmes. You’ll get top quality training while developing skills, earning a wage and gaining a qualification on the job. Vocational training is designed to give skills for specific jobs and is great if you want to move straight into employment.

To learn more about any of these options, contact the Exam Results Helpline. The service is available from 5 – 23 August on 0808 100 8000. Calls are free from UK landlines.