Clearing explained


Got your exam results but haven’t quite made the grade when it comes to getting into the uni of your choice? Enter Clearing! This is a second chance for those determined to get started at university this September – and here’s how it works.

What is Clearing?

Universities across the country need to fill places on their courses before the start of the academic year. Some universities may lower their entry requirements to offer students who did not receive an offer for the course of their choice a place, or who did not meet the grades needed.

How do I use the Clearing system?

As long as you’ve already submitted a UCAS application, you can apply through Clearing. After checking out which courses still have places, you can directly apply through UCAS Track after results day, which is Tuesday 8 August for SQA exams in Scotland. After this you may need to contact UCAS or the university directly by phone to gain a place through Clearing. The UCAS website has a helpful timetable of when their service is available during results period. You will automatically be entered for Clearing if you have missed both of your choices; you can then find an alternative course through this method.

What else should I do?

If you unfortunately don’t receive the results you would have liked it is still worth enquiring about similar courses at your university of choice as it could be the case that another course may not be as popular with students and will need places filled. However, be warned that these will be filled quickly. You could also see if there are universities further away from home that have places available through clearing. You should also consider applying for a joint degree course if you really want to go to university.

Can I contact universities directly?

Yes, most universities offer their own advice line throughout the month of August for students to call and enquire about which courses are available to apply for though Clearing. Check online at their individual websites for more details.

What if I do better than expected?

If, on results day, you open your envelope or receive your text to realise that all your hard work has paid off, you can change your mind about where you would like to study. This service is available through UCAS Adjustment – but you have to be prepared to do your own work and phone universities directly to explain your situation and see if they are willing to offer you a place.

What should I do if I don’t have a university place?

Skills Development Scotland offers their own helpline from 8am on results day. Their advisors can help you try to find any suitable courses or offer advice on other things to do after school. These include college places which could offer you direct entry to a university course in the second or third year at uni, or a Modern Apprentice scheme where you can “earn while you learn” and gain valuable workplace experience. Call the SDS team on 0808 100 8000. It’ll be open from 8am until 8pm on 8 and 9 August, and from 9am until 5pm from 10 until 16 August – giving you plenty of time to formulate your plan B.

Find out more about Clearing and how it works at

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