The Ultimate Guide to UCAS Clearing 2023 for Students

UCAS Clearing Guide – What’s New in 2023?

Applying to a UK university successfully for some students can be daunting, especially when things don’t go as planned. If you think you need a second chance with your University application, no worries. 

UCAS Clearing is designed to help applicants to find the perfect course place in a situation when the application is not submitted within the deadline or the received offer is not acceptable to you.

This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know about the UCAS Clearing process, from its purpose to the steps involved, and even how to manage the entire process.

What’s UCAS Clearing?

UCAS Clearing is the complementary admission procedure of UCAS. In other words, it’s a second chance to get a place at university. Students who have not yet been admitted can be selected from courses that still have places available.

It is a service provided by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) that helps students find available course places after the deadline application cycle has ended.

UCAS Clearing service is extremely popular among UK and International students

UCAS Clearing data for 2022. More than 53000 student entered Clearing
UCAS Clearing Data for 2022

In 2022, more than 53,000 students applied for a university place through Clearing, highlighting its importance in the UK university application process.

When does UCAS Clearing open in 2023?

UCAS Clearing opens in early July after the International Baccalaureate (IB) results are released, and it’s available until late October. The exact dates may vary slightly from year to year, so it’s essential to check the UCAS website for the most up-to-date information.

UCAS Clearing opens on 5th July 2023.

Based on our experience and work with the major universities in the UK, there might be a chance of securing a place at some universities in October. However, it’s highly recommended to complete your UCAS application as early as possible once you have received your results to increase your chances of getting admission.

UCAS Clearing Deadline 2023

Clearing operates on a first-come, first-served basis without a specific deadline. However, the availability of places during UCAS Clearing up to October is dependent on the popularity and the total number of places for each course. The final date is 17th October, but only in case the course has available places. 

Thus, it’s crucial to apply to UCAS as early as possible to increase your chances of securing a place in the course of your preference.

In which cases can I use UCAS Clearing?

Since Clearing is very popular, many students are using it every year. But, who can use Clearing? Are there any eligibility requirements? 

Find below situations in which you can use Clearing:

  • You haven’t had any offers from your top five college choices;
  • You got offers but declined them all;
  • You have received conditional offers but have not met the requirements for admission;
  • You apply after June 30;
  • You have changed your mind about the course you want to do and want to apply for new courses.

In all these cases, students are eligible to use the Clearing process to submit another application. 

How does UCAS Clearing work?

Use the Clearing Course Search

We advise preparing “plan B” always. Search for available places before results day to stay ahead of the competition. Keep in mind Clearing process is extremely popular, and places are filling very fast. 

Use Clearing Course Search tool, it allows you to search for courses and available places. You can add many filters to sort the results.

Shortlist your options

Make a short list of your preferred courses and universities. This can help in further steps since you can contact universities. 

Contact universities

Once you’ve found a programme you’re interested in, contact the university directly to find out if places are still available and if you meet the admissions criteria. By communicating your information, you will quickly get an answer. Prepare your UCAS personal statement and results if need to send them again directly to the university.

Confirm your choice

On UCAS Hub, you can only enter one choice at a time during Clearing. This means that once you have selected a course, you will only be able to register for a new one if you are not admitted to the first one. 

If you change your mind, contact the university so they can quickly cancel your selection and allow you to add a new choice.

To be able to apply for a course through Clearing, you must first send your UCAS application, unlike the procedure for the rest of the year which allows you to select your choices in the first place.

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What’s next?

Start organising your student life and prepare for university. Check out our student accommodation guides. Make a financial plan for an academic year or 3 years in advance. 

What’s UCAS self-release?

Students who wish to attend a different university than the one which they secured an offer from can self-release themselves into the Clearing process

Around 25% of applicants who went through Clearing last year did so because they had a change of heart regarding their preferred place of study. 

Self-release into Clearing is now a straightforward process that can be initiated by the student through their UCAS account, rather than having to contact the university holding their offer and wait to be released.

Introduced in 2019, UCAS self-release allows students who have met the conditions of their firm or insurance offer to enter Clearing voluntarily. This feature provides more flexibility for students who change their minds about their chosen course or university after receiving their results.

Can you apply to a university in Clearing without using UCAS?

Yes, applying directly to a university is possible. 

Students have the option to apply directly to a university outside of the UCAS system through a process known as Record of Prior Acceptance or RPA.

According to UCAS official report, in 2021, more than 44,000 students were accepted into university through this direct application route.

To apply through RPA, a student will still need to provide the university with their exam results, a personal statement, and a reference letter. If the university makes an offer which the student accepts, the student will have to fill out an RPA form. The university will then submit this information to UCAS on the student’s behalf for data collection purposes.

However, not all universities participate in the RPA application process. Students should check with their target university first before deciding to apply through RPA.

It is important for students to note that if they accept an offer through RPA, they will not be able to apply to any other university courses. This is one of the biggest disadvantages when applying directly to a university. Students must be completely sure of their course choice before accepting an RPA offer as no other options will remain open to them.

Use UCAS Clearing Plus

UCAS introduced a new service called Clearing Plus in 2020, which is designed to make the process of finding a suitable course less stressful and time-consuming for students. 

The Clearing Plus matches students to specific courses by using all the information from their application and comparing it with what certain universities are looking for. 

This means that students no longer have to trawl through thousands of possible course options themselves. Clearing Plus is aimed at making the process of finding a suitable course much easier and more efficient for students.

Practical Ways to Reduce Stress During Clearing

The clearing process can be stressful for some students, but there are a few strategies to help manage the pressure:

  1. Be prepared: Research universities and courses before Clearing opens, so you know your options clearly.
  2. Stay organised: Keep a list of the universities you’re interested in, their contact details, and the courses you qualify for.
  3. Ask for advice: Talk to your teachers, career advisers, friends, and family about your plans and any concerns you may have.
  4. Practice self-care: Make sure to get enough sleep, eat well, and exercise to maintain your physical and mental well-being during the Clearing process.

What are your options other than Clearing?

If you don’t find a suitable course through Clearing, a Gap year is a good option. 

Taking a gap year and resitting results to apply for the same course is an option worth considering. This provides students with an opportunity to improve their grades and increase their chances of being accepted into their preferred course the following year.

We have a comprehensive guide on How to apply to university after a gap year. Make sure to check it if you are taking a gap year. 

Is clearing only for UK students?

No, clearing is not only for UK students. UCAS Clearing is open to all students, UK, EU and International. Both home and international students can apply for courses through Clearing

Do Oxford and Cambridge Accept Clearing?

The universities of Oxford and Cambridge do not practice Clearing. If you wish to get accepted to the course of one of these prestigious UK universities, you must therefore respect the Oxbridge application deadline.

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How long do universities take to respond to clearing applications UK?

Universities typically respond to students applying through Clearing as quickly as possible, often within 1-2 business days. University representatives can offer a place over the phone, after you confirm it you can add it to the UCAS Hub account. 

However, the response time can vary depending on the number of applications the university receives and how quickly the places get filled. 

Do Russell Group Unis offer Clearing?

Yes, many Russell Group universities offer places in Clearing every year. Top universities like Durham University, University of Manchester, University of Exeter, University of Warwick, University of Bristol, etc. advertise their clearing vacancies on their website. 

Students with good results can get into prestigious Russell Group universities through Clearing. However, the number of places available at top universities is VERY LIMITED and in high demand. 

Students are advised to call the Russell Group universities they are interested in as early as possible to discuss the available options and secure a place. Acting quickly is key to getting into a top university through Clearing.

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What’s the difference between UCAS Extra and Clearing?

UCAS Extra and Clearing are two options for students to apply for university places after the initial application deadline has passed. However, while they may seem similar, there are some key differences to note. They are often confused. 

UCAS Extra opens first, earlier in the application cycle, and closes on the day before Clearing starts.

Clearing then opens the following day. The timing of these options is one of the biggest differentiators.

The process for UCAS Extra tends to move at a slower pace. Universities have up to 21 days to respond to students applying through this route. Clearing, on the other hand, often works much more quickly, with many offers made over the phone within a short conversation.

To apply for a place through UCAS Extra, students submit an application through the UCAS Hub. For Clearing, students call universities directly to express their interest in any remaining places. 


How much does cost UCAS Clearing?

UCAS Clearing fee is £4.50. You’ll have to pay it to apply through Clearing.

Can You use Adjustment if receive better results?

If your exam results turn out to be better than anticipated, you may want to consider alternative university options. Starting in 2022, the Adjustment process where students could swap their university place for an alternative is no longer available.

You will need to decline the offer and go through Clearing. Through Clearing, you can search for different courses and universities that still have vacancies.

Is a dentistry course available in Clearing?

No, dentistry courses are not available in the Clearing process due to high entry requirements and different deadlines. Learn more in our guide: How To Apply To Dentistry In The UK