North East Connected

Clearing: a guide for parents

For Universities such as Northumbria Uni in Newcastle, Clearing is a challenge.

As a parent, you’ll be fully aware of all the hard work your children have put into their qualifications, and the stress and pressure that they have been under to get the grades and secure a place at their first-choice university. As results day looms, you’ll likely be just as anxious and excited as they are – hoping that all their hard work has paid off and there will be no disappointed faces when they open that envelope.

However, some student’s do miss out on the grades they need to get into the university they had hoped to attend. Whilst it can feel like you are watching your children’s plans fall apart in front of you, fortunately there is an alternative route for students that gives them a second chance to enrol into a great university, on a course that’s perfect for them. According to the National Clearing Survey 2016, a huge 33,000 students secured their university space through UCAS clearing – so there’s no reason why your child can’t do the same.

The UCAS clearing process is available to students who do not hold an offer from a university after receiving their results – it’s an opportunity for students to enrol onto another course, or to another university than the one they had originally planned.

As a parent, it’s only natural that you want to support your children during this process, to help them secure their university future. Northumbria University, which offers an extensive range of undergraduate clearing courses, provides advice to parents to help their children through the UCAS clearing process.

Results day

Whatever the envelope holds, results day is generally an emotional day for all students – whilst some students will be crying tears of happiness, for others, the news might not be so reassuring. If your child has missed out on the results they had hoped for, it’s not the end of the world. This is your time to step up and support them by helping them begin their clearing application.

Clearing isn’t just available for those who didn’t secure the required grades for their chosen course – 28% of clearing applicants go through clearing because they have changed their mind about their course of university choice.

Clearing is available to students who have had all of their choices declined, whether it’s by default or choice.

UCAS clearing process

So how can you assist your child through the clearing process? Clearing spaces are advertised by universities from the beginning of July – so if your child is worried ahead of their results that they won’t get a place on their first choice, or if they have decided to change course, it is wise to have them start browsing the courses that could be available to them. This means that come results day, your children will have a clearer idea of what they would like to apply for.

However, we know it’s not always that simple – and some results come as a surprise to both you and your children. In this instance, the UCAS clearing process will start here, and the main focus is finding the right course for your child. You can assist your children throughout the process but any phone calls and communication needs to be between the student and universities, so you will not be able to speak on behalf of your children.

The UCAS website lists all the available courses for all universities along with any grade requirements, and as you can imagine, there is an extensive list to choose from. It is useful to help your children narrow it down to which universities they want to apply to, and what courses they are interested in. The majority of students (65%) will look for similar courses to what they have previously applied for, whereas 35% will choose a different course. They can approach as many universities as they want during clearing, and they don’t need to accept their first offer. It is important that you help them make the right decision and accept the offer that is right for them.

Once they have accepted an offer from their chosen university, they will receive confirmation, which will outline the next steps.

When it’s time to start university, the clearing process will become a distant memory and no matter how they got there, they will be a fully-fledged student on their chosen course.

So when results day comes around this year, remind your children it’s not the end of the world if that envelope doesn’t bring the news they had hoped for. It’s your job to support them, and remind them there is absolutely nothing wrong with securing your university place through clearing.

Data used from the National Clearing Survey 2016.


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