Thursday, 21 August 2014

Clearing experiences


In 2013 there were 57,100 students who were accepted at universities and colleges through Clearing. Each year there are students throughout the UK who are succeeding in their studies and careers after using Clearing to get a place on their chosen course – let us introduce you to four of them...

Jaz’s story
BBB were the grades Jaz needed to study the engineering course she’d chosen, but on results day things didn’t go to plan. She had a big decision to make: re-take her exams, change direction altogether or look for a place in Clearing. She chose Clearing, and she’s glad that she did because she now has a first class degree with honours in mechanical engineering from City University. And not only that, she has a successful career in retail energy management. Read her inspirational story here.


Riccardo’s story
Riccardo hadn’t applied to university when he got his exam results, but that didn’t stop him. He researched the Clearing vacancies for London Metropolitan University where he wanted to study, and found a course that was right for him. After speaking to their admissions team and sitting the English language test they required, he got a place. He’s now not only graduated but he’s gone on to study for a master's, with a view to go on to get a PhD. Hear about his experiences here. 



Charlotte’s story
Charlotte’s results weren’t what she was expecting, and she felt that should re-think her choice of course and university. She did her research and knew that early primary education at Northumbria University was what she wanted to do, so she got in touch with the programme leader to find out as much as she could. She’s now enjoying every minute of her course, and believes that using Clearing helped her to make the right decision about her future – listen to her story here.



Joyce’s story
Joyce was very upset when all five of her choices were unsuccessful for adult nursing. She had always wanted to contribute to the National Health Service and when that did not work out, she had to really think about what to do. She decided to use Clearing and was successful in getting a place on a public health course at the University of Greenwich.  She says she’s incredibly glad she tried this route, as she would have otherwise waited another year before reapplying.

Joyce has now completed her studies and will be graduating this October.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Finding the right course for you in Clearing

When it comes to contacting universities and colleges about courses in Clearing, it’s important to act quickly but that doesn't mean making a hasty decision. While you need to be proactive you also need to be sure that the course you accept is right for you. We asked admissions staff from universities and colleges to share their advice on researching courses effectively in Clearing  read on to find out what they told us...

Stewart Harper – Head of Student Admissions, Leeds Metropolitan University
  

Stewart Harper,
Leeds Metropolitan 
For those that are due to receive A level, BTEC or other exam results this summer, deciding what to do next may be an ever-present thought. The most important thing is not to panic; many universities still have places on a wide range of courses and we are here to help you.

Clearing isn’t a ‘second best’ option, but rather a process by which thousands of students each year find the course that is just right for them. As with the main UCAS cycle, the key is to make sure that you research the course and university, and if possible go and visit – we have opportunities to come and see our campuses on the Friday and Saturday after A level results for example, and that often serves to reassure applicants about the choices they are making.

It is difficult to get the same depth of research done in a few days as across the whole application cycle, so you can make a start now and see what vacancies universities are already advertising – our website also carries details of what UCAS Tariff points you need. You’ll need to consider the balance between different options within the same subject area – practical or theoretical, for example – that suits your own personal style or preferences.  

If you aren’t yet eligible to apply through Clearing (for example, if you are still waiting for your results) then keep a note of the courses or universities that attract you so that you don’t have to repeat the exercise, and if you are going to be away on results day take those notes with you – don’t forget that nobody else can do your application for you!

Doing your research now will put you ahead of the game and come September allow you to start on a really exciting journey!

(From 22 September 2014 Leeds Metropolitan University will become Leeds Beckett University.)

Emma Powell – Admissions Officer, the Edge Hotel School 
  

Emma Powell,
the Edge Hotel School
It’s never too early to prepare 
If you don’t have a place, or think you might not get the grades you need, think about your options before you have your results. Most universities let you visit and speak to admissions staff, so you can start to weigh up your options before it’s time to make a decision. It’s always a good idea to have a back-up plan – or even better, several!

On the day
Check the Clearing vacancies in The Telegraph and on the UCAS website, and look on institutions’ websites – many have a dedicated Clearing page. This is why preparing beforehand is useful – if you have an institution in mind you can call them to ask about Clearing vacancies or find them in the vacancy lists. At the Edge Hotel School we ask students interested in applying through Clearing to call us first.  

Questions you should ask
Some universities might want to interview you over the phone so make sure you’re not in a rush! We understand it’s a stressful time, but think about why you want to study there, what the course is about and what your job prospects might be. Doing research will make all the difference to making a good impression. 
  
You need to make sure it’s the right course for you and the place you want to be for the next few years. As well as answering questions that admissions staff ask, it’s important to have questions of your own. How will you be assessed? How long will you be in lectures? What links are there with industry? What accommodation is available? Ask when you would start  the Edge Hotel School has start dates in January, May and September.  

Getting the place
Make sure you check your emails as admissions staff may contact you following your call with useful information about open days and how long you have to decide.

Amber Clabburn  Clearing Adviser, Kaplan Holborn College

  
Amber Clabburn,
Kaplan Holborn College
Research before results day, just in case
It’s a good idea to plan and research courses in advance of results day. That way you will already have options if you find yourself in Clearing, which means less stress and panic on the day.

Research similar courses to the ones you’ve applied for. Remember to consider the ‘additional extras’ the course may offer, such as placements or professional qualification exemptions. Most important of all: check that you meet the basic entry requirements – though these are sometimes altered in Clearing.

Researching on results day
If you find yourself in Clearing, it is important that you effectively research courses and institutions – after all, you are investing two to four years of your life at university or college.

There are many things to consider, so try not to rush the search too much. Chances are you know roughly what you want to study, so look on ucas.com, institution websites and in the Telegraph to find institutions that have spaces in your chosen subject area. 

Be realistic when considering courses; ask yourself the basic questions e.g. Do you meet the entry criteria? Would you be interested in moving to or commuting to that location?

Questions for admissions tutors
Ask anything and everything, but stay calm. After all, it is the admissions tutor’s job to help you. And don’t worry if you think that you are asking something silly – chances are someone will have asked this before. Feel free to ask even the most seemingly insignificant questions if they help ease your concerns. Although Clearing is a busy period for any institution, the staff at the end of the phone will be pleased to help you. 

And finally...
Try not to rush your decision; whatever it may be. Speak to teachers, parents, friends – anyone who can give you advice from their own experience. If you make the most informed choice you can, it’s likely to be the right one for you.

Sophie Rowell – Admissions Co-ordinator, Nottingham Trent University 

Sophie Rowell,
Nottingham Trent University
  
Results day can be a daunting time, particularly if you don’t do as well as you’d hoped. If you don’t quite meet the conditions of the offers you hold, you can enter into the Clearing process. This is another chance to find a course of interest, now that you know your results. 

It’s beneficial for you to prepare for Clearing in advance of results day. Look at universities asking for slightly lower grades to do your course of choice, think about where you would like to live in the country, and have a think about which courses match your skills and interests. Some universities publish their Clearing vacancies early, and it doesn’t hurt to have a look at some courses which may be of interest. Parents and teachers may be able to suggest some universities that you hadn’t thought of previously, or courses that you hadn’t yet considered.

If you end up going through the Clearing process on results day, the most important thing is not to panic! There are plenty of spaces at universities up and down the UK, and it’s essential that you take your time to research the courses and universities thoroughly. Make sure that you call the Clearing hotline yourself, rather than getting someone else to call, and have your results and a pen and paper in front of you. Admissions agents are there to help you find a great place in Clearing, not to catch you out! 

We’ve put together some advice guides full of hints and tips to help you prepare for results day. From the ten golden rules for Clearing, to a step-by-step guide, we’ll talk you through what to expect on the day and how to approach the Clearing process. Go to www.ntu.ac.uk/clearing to find out more. 

Rebecca Heron – Student Recruitment Manager, Lancaster University 

  
Rebecca Heron, Lancaster University
If you think that you might be in Clearing, then the best thing you can do is prepare in advance! Even if there’s only a slim chance, it’s always best to have a contingency plan just in case you don’t do as well as you expected. 

First off, make a list of universities that you might consider – check that they offer your course, and look at the entry grades. You might want to revisit some of the universities that were in your original UCAS choices – you could always give them a call to see if they expect your specific course to be in Clearing.

Next, list your preferred universities in priority order – that way you'll know which to call first on results day. Most universities will open early to cope with demand - the most popular will receive thousands of calls for a limited number of places, so it’s a good idea to make a note of telephone numbers and opening times in advance, and call as soon as they open in order to beat the queues.

Don’t make the call without having done your research first – at least know whether the course is available and what the entry grades are. Your experience could differ greatly depending on the university – some may just run through your grades, whilst others may conduct a telephone interview, so be prepared for either. 

You’ll have to make a decision quite quickly, but you still need to make sure that it’s the right choice - whilst you’re on the phone ask about the modules that you’ll be studying, and find out if accommodation is guaranteed for Clearing students. 

Try to visit the university before you accept an offer – most will have visiting opportunities in the days following Clearing, so ask when you call.


Sarah Temlett & Lucy Dixon – Admisisions Support Unit, University of Sunderland

   
Our top tips for Clearing:
Sarah Temlett & Lucy Dixon,
University of Sunderland
Sarah: “Don’t be shy! Whoever you speak to will want to help you and provide advice tailored to your qualifications and the courses you’re interested in. Places may be limited so don’t be afraid to sell yourself and show your passion for your subject. A conversation with an Admissions Tutor may be an informal interview so have your personal statement to hand – you may want to reference it. If you’re not sure about an offer you’ve received, it’s OK to think it over and call the university back. Don’t take too long as places aren’t held indefinitely, but don’t feel you have to accept it there and then.”

Lucy: “Make sure your phone is charged and that you’re somewhere quiet – you may have to make several calls and you’ll have lots of information to take in. Have a pen and paper to write down the names and numbers of people you have spoken to, as well as any other information. Have a list of your qualifications and experience so university staff have the best chance of finding a course for you. Don’t forget  the university may want to know about your GCSE or equivalent qualifications too."

Questions to ask during Clearing:
Sarah: “If you don’t meet the requirements for a course or there are no places, ask what else is available. Other courses may have different requirements, so there may be a similar course or a foundation course you can get on to. If you ask about a course with professional accreditation, for example social work, always ask the Admissions Tutor how much experience you need to have." 

Lucy: “Ask about the availability, location and cost of accommodation. We have fantastic accommodation here at Sunderland, with great broadband speeds and at reasonable prices. Ask about any financial help that’s available, including bursaries and scholarships. There's more about the scholarship package at the University of Sunderland on our website."

The Exam Results Helpline gets ready for your call

The countdown is on to A Level results day and the Exam Results Helpline is preparing to help more peopleTwitter and Facebook as well as by calling 0808 100 8000.
than ever before. For the first time in the Helpline’s history, you can speak to careers advisers on

The Exam Results Helpline is manned by top careers advisers who help thousands of students each year with free, independent advice and they’re ready to give expert advice again this year.

On Thursday 14 August you can find out whether you’ve been accepted onto your chosen university course early in the morning (UCAS Track opens at 08:00 UK time). In most cases you will then need to go into your school or college to pick up your results. If you haven’t got into your chosen university, don’t panic! The Exam Results Helpline opens at 08:00 and advisers will be ready to talk through your options.

No question or worry is too small and the advisers can guide you on a number of topics including: higher education, retakes, Clearing, gap years, funding, vocational learning, apprenticeships and careers advice.

Exam Results Helpline adviser John Carberry explains how the helpline can help you in this short video:


Good luck, and whatever happens, don’t panic  we're here to help you. Either pick up the phone and call 0808 100 8000 or ask your question on the Exam Results Helpline Twitter and Facebook pages.


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.
     
  10.                                    

  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.