• Sat. Jun 15th, 2024

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New survey reveals North East student perceptions of clearing process

As A Level students across the North East prepare to receive their exam results this week (Thursday 17 August), a new survey has revealed students in the region are more worried about achieving their predicted exam results than across the UK as a whole.

In the North East eight out of 10 current students (81%) said they are worried they won’t get the grades they need compared to the national average of 53%.

Many also admit they are not fully aware of the choices available to them once they receive their results, with 14% saying they hadn’t heard of the Clearing process and 43% saying they had heard of it but didn’t know exactly what it was. Meanwhile around a quarter (24%) of North East students didn’t know about Adjustment – the process by which students can change course or university if they get better results than predicated.

The research, which was carried out on behalf of Northumbria University, Newcastle, in the run-up to A Level results day, looked at students’ perceptions of the options available to them after receiving their exam results.

The picture was similar across the UK as a whole, with 47% of students admitting they did not understand the Clearing process and 44% unsure about Adjustment.

Nationally, the survey showed that only 45% of students questioned expected to get the same grades as when they applied for university. However, while the majority of students said they would stay with their existing university offer if they got better results, this number was lower than last year, indicating that more students are now considering changing course or university once they receive their results.

Key findings in the survey of A Level and BTEC students in the North East has shown:


  • More than half (52%) said they’d be devastated if they didn’t get into their chosen university or course – higher than the 43% national average
  • The right course (43%) and academic reputation (43%) are the biggest influencers when choosing a university
  • Around two thirds (67%) would accept their existing offer even if they got better grades than they expected, close to the national average of 68%
  • Just over half of students surveyed (52%) would use clearing if they got worse grades, higher than the UK national average of 31%
  • The top three factors in choosing where to live when at university were cost, close proximity to the university and quality of accommodation


More than two thirds (67%) of North East students said they would accept their existing offer even if they got better grades than initially anticipated, suggesting many students have a clear idea in mind when it comes to their course of choice and institution.

This is backed up by survey findings that the ‘right course’ and academic reputation are the most important reasons for choosing a university, with 43% of students stating they made the decision on the ‘right course’ for them, and 43% selecting their course or university based on academic reputation.

Northumbria University’s survey highlights the importance of students having a full understanding of the options available to them as results day edges ever closer.

Helen Bower, Assistant Marketing Director (Undergraduate) at Northumbria University, Newcastle, said: “The Clearing process has changed significantly in recent years and the option to ‘trade up’ using Adjustment now gives students the opportunity to reconsider their original choice if they have done better than expected in their exams.

“We recognise there is a lot for students to take in during their final year at school or college and that A Level results day can be very stressful. The key is not to panic. It’s important that whatever they decide, it’s the right option for them.

“Many students have deliberated long and hard about which university they feel is the right one for them. However, the Clearing process gives young people more flexibility and potentially opens new doors.”

According to the survey, the long-term aspirations for students don’t appear to be driven by financial or material factors, with students placing having a happy and healthy life, successful careers and travel experiences as their main aspirations.

Lewis Liddle, from Newcastle, has just completed the second year of his Building Surveying BSc (Hons) at Northumbria. He said: “The course is very highly thought of and graduates of Northumbria tend to do very well in the industry. There is a lot of support when it comes to finding placements and work experience, for example my course had a module dedicated to career awareness last year which helped prepared us for interviews.”

Annika Kular, also from Newcastle, has just completed the first year of a Business with Accounting BSc (Hons) course. She said: “I’m really interested in finance and maths but also really enjoyed business studies at A Level and Northumbria was one of the only places to offer both business and accounting together in one course. The tutors are great, the facilities are brilliant and Newcastle is a great city to live and study in.”

David Jones, from Newcastle, is studying International Sport Management MSc at Northumbria. He said: “Having studied at Northumbria for my undergraduate degree seven years ago then coming back to do my Masters, I can see the investment that has taken place in the facilities and it is fantastic to see the university delivering what students need. The sporting facilities here are second to none and Newcastle is a fantastic city for students.”

When asked how they found out about their chosen university, the UCAS website was the most popular source of information, with 52% of students questioned in the North East saying they used the site to research their options. League tables and information from their school or college were the second and third most popular choices. For more information about UCAS please visit www.ucas.com

The Northumbria University Clearing survey involved a nationally representative sample of A level and A level equivalent students and was carried out in July 2017 by Northumberland-based research service provider, Public Knowledge.

Northumbria University, Newcastle, has a limited number of places available for high quality students through Clearing this summer. For more information, visit www.northumbria.ac.uk/clearing or call the Clearing Hotline on 0800 085 1085.


A guide to Clearing

Top tips to remember when it comes to clearing

    1. Check UCAS and university web pages to see what courses are available through clearing and adjustment. At Northumbria we’ll be updating our website with live information throughout the day at www.northumbria.ac.uk/clearing
    2. Have your UCAS personal ID number to hand, plus all of your qualifications to give the university all of the information they will need. If you know the name of the course you’re interested in, have the title and UCAS code to hand too.
    3. Consider all your options. Choosing the right university is a big decision and it’s important to think carefully before you commit. Don’t feel pressured to go for any option – it’s your choice.
    4. Always speak to the university yourself. They will have questions for you, and vice versa, and you’ll also be able to speak with subject tutors who will want to talk to you, not a parent.
    5. Make a note of your work and life experiences. These could prove very useful when you’re talking to the university if you can demonstrate additional skills that others may not have.


  • You may be asked to come in for an interview or to share your portfolio of work. If so, you’ll need to note down the date, time and location of your interview, as well as who you’ll be meeting, or any instructions you are given about sending us your portfolio.



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