Guide to Clearing and UCAS

You’ve just settled into your Level 3 or A-Level Course and now you’re trying to navigate your way through the process of applying for your University course. You’ve come across words like UCAS, clearing, plus more and you’re not too sure what they mean. We know how scary and daunting it is, so we’ve created this guide to help you through the process.

What is UCAS?

UCAS stands for Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. To apply to a UK University ALL applicants have to go through UCAS you’re not alone!

What is UCAS Apply?

You make your University application through UCAS Apply, an online system on the UCAS website. Don’t be daunted about everything you need to fill in – you can do it step-by-step and go back to it any time, although be mindful of deadlines.

When should I start my application and what are the deadlines?

Start your application as soon as possible. It can take time to process. There are different deadlines for different courses, so it would be best to check the UCAS website, however we do try to put reminders on our social media channels.  On-time applications should be received by UCAS by 15th January. Late applications can be submitted until 30th June. Applications received after this date will be entered into UCAS Clearing, which is explained below.

What details do I need to put into my application?

Before you start your application, you will need to fill in the following details:

  • Personal details (email address, home address, etc.).
  • Your choices of University course.
  • Previous education and qualifications including your current course.
  • Details of any Employment.
  • Personal statement detailing why you’ve chosen those particular course/s and demonstrating that you have the skills needed to succeed at University.
  • A reference; If you are applying through your school or college this is provided for you. If you apply as an individual you will need to provide the contact details of your nominated referee; this could be a teacher, adviser or a professional who knows you academically.

What happens after I submit my application?

Once you’ve sent your application you will be able to track the progress of your application through UCAS Track. This is where you will be able to see what offers you’ve received from a University or College. This could be an offer of a place on your chosen course or an invitation to interview or audition. You reply to your offers once you have heard from all of your University choices. Don’t forget that any confirmation of offers might depend on your exam results. Check out this flowchart from UCAS which shows the full process.

What if I‘ve changed my mind or need to change my details once I’ve submitted my application?

It would be best to visit the UCAS website page to find out if you can amend what you need to in Track, or if you need to contact the University, College or UCAS.

Help! I didn’t get the grades I needed!

Don’t worry, we are all here to help! Results days are stressful, especially if you didn’t do as well as you hoped and you didn’t quite get the grades you needed. Sometimes, the University or College will still accept you so contact them first. If they don’t, you can find another place on a similar course at a different University or College through UCAS Clearing.

That’s great, but what is UCAS Clearing?

Most Universities and Colleges will still have places on some of their courses, so it’s the perfect opportunity for you to find another course you can do. Just because you didn’t get the grades you needed for one University or College, doesn’t mean that others won’t want you.

When does UCAS Clearing start?

UCAS Clearing starts opens on 5th July. You will need to wait until you’ve received your results before starting the UCAS Clearing process. UCAS will have the official vacancy list online, which is updated regularly. Talk to the Universities and Colleges you’re interested in. Give us a call! Many have dedicated Clearing phone lines. Ask us our advice and we can suggest what other courses there are out there for you.

Once you’ve got a place on a course, you’re then ready to start your studies, but don’t forget to think about the following:

  • Are you financially prepared? Have you applied for a student loan?
  • Will you be living away from home? If so, have you made arrangements?
  • Think about transport and how you will get to and from University/College.
  • Do you need to buy any textbooks or stationery before the start of your course?
Most importantly, if you have any questions about your course, do contact the University or College. You can also contact our careers team by emailing them on