Clearing 2020: all you need to know

What is clearing?

If you’re an aspiring uni student, you’ve probably already come across the term ‘clearing’. But you might not have a clear idea of what it means. It’s a good plan to get familiar with it though, because in the event that you don’t get the grades you need or you aren’t offered a uni place, clearing can help match you with a vacant one elsewhere.​​

When does university Clearing start?

Clearing started on July 6th and ends on October 20th 2020. It’s open to anyone who’s already applied for a uni spot via UCAS and (for whatever reason) hasn’t been able to secure a place for the coming academic year. If you don’t already have an offer in your back pocket, then you can apply instead to a course where there are vacancies available.

Every year, tens of thousands of students secure uni places via the clearing process – so if things haven’t at first turned out the way you intended them to, don’t panic. What’s more, don’t assume that the places available through clearing are just on courses nobody wants: there are all sorts of reasons why these spots become available.

We’d suggest familiarising yourself with the clearing process and how it works, so that you’re better placed to find a great uni course this way if you need to. Here we’ll give you a quick run-down of what you need to know about clearing.​​

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Eligibility for clearing

Only those who have filled out a UCAS application form and paid the full £24 fee are potentially eligible for clearing (if you paid £18 to make a single choice when applying, you’ll need to pay an additional £6 for clearing). You can apply for a uni place via clearing if any of the following criteria apply to you:

  • You haven’t been offered a uni place or didn’t accept any offers made to you
  • You didn’t respond to any offers by the relevant due date
  • You didn’t obtain the grades required by courses for which you’ve received offers
  • You have declined any changed course offers (including a changed entry date or changed point of entry offers)
  • You applied after the UCAS deadline date (applications received after this deadline will not be forwarded on to colleges and universities)
  • You are already holding a university place, but have released yourself into clearing via UCAS Track (known as self-clearing, a new option introduced in 2019)

Your Clearing questions answered

How do you apply through clearing?

Look on your Track page to find details of your eligibility for clearing, including your clearing number. Universities will need this in order to access your application. You’ll need to contact the university prior to applying for a place via clearing; if you simply enter a clearing choice via Track without having discussed your application with the university in advance, it’s very likely they’ll reject it.

You can find clearing places on universities’ websites and among the UCAS listings – it’s worth checking both regularly as you’ll find the most up-to-date information about vacancies there.

How many universities can I apply to through Clearing?

It’s entirely up to you how many vacant places you apply for, but you can only enter one clearing choice in Track. If a university responds positively to your inquiry and offers you a place, it’ll supply you with a course code and an institution code. To accept, enter these details in Track (click the ‘add clearing choice’ button). Ask for written confirmation of the offer before doing so, just to be safe.

If you want to exercise the self-release option, you can do so by signing in to Track and clicking the ‘decline my place’ button on your page. You’ll then be directed to a page explaining the implications of this; you’ll be asked a series of questions and then to confirm your decision. You should then receive an email from UCAS to confirm that you’re in clearing.

Clearing offers are usually only valid for a certain period of time, so if you are going to accept, make sure you don’t miss the relevant deadline. If you try to accept beyond these deadlines, you may find that your place has been reallocated to someone else. But only accept an offer if you’re as sure as you can be that it’s the right option for your future.​​

How long do universities take to respond to Clearing applications?

The response time from universities during Clearing could range from a few days to a few months, depending on the university and when you applied. Check out some of the key Clearing dates further down on this page.​

What Clearing like for international students?

Non-UK students can also be eligible to find a university place through the clearing process: in fact, several thousand do so each year. International students are eligible to apply for a course via clearing in the following circumstances:

  • They applied after the June 30th deadline
  • They applied to courses prior to June 30th, but didn’t receive any offers
  • They were rejected by their firm and insurance choices
  • They decided not to take up their firm or insurance offer, despite having obtained the required grades
  • They have paid the fee to apply via clearing
  • Clearing for international students opened on July 5th too, which was also International Baccalaureate results day. Some overseas students will need a visa to study in the UK; to obtain it, these students will need to supply evidence that they have been made an unconditional offer. Universities with a Tier 4 sponsor licence will provide a Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies, which students will need to provide to the relevant UK authorities.

If you’re an international student and you aren’t sure whether or not you need a visa to study in the UK, you can check on the UK government’s official website here.​

What if I get better grades than predicted?

If you’ve obtained better-than-expected grades and you’ve had a change of heart since having a firm choice accepted, there is an opportunity for you to reconsider. This is what’s known as adjustment, and it gives you the chance to change courses while keeping your unconditional firm place open.

You’ll need to register for adjustment in Track, and you’ll only have limited opportunities in which to use it. There are five 24-hour periods either from A-level results day in August, or from the point when your conditional firm offer changes to unconditional firm (whichever comes first), during which you can make use of the adjustment process.

If you don’t find another, more suitable course as part of adjustment, your other unconditional firm offer will remain available to you. You’ll only lose this once you’ve confirmed that you want to take up a different offer.​

How does Clearing affect applying for student accommodation?

So you’ve got your uni place, now you need to secure your student accommodation.

We know that getting your results and finding a uni place can be a really stressful time, but booking your accommodation needn’t be. Our customer service team is on hand to help you with all your accommodation queries.

Not got the grade but already booked your accommodation with us? No problem. If you are changing to a different uni in another town or city, we can transfer your deposit over to another Campus Living Villages site. It couldn’t be easier. Just give our customer service team a call and they’ll sort the rest.

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Clearing: key dates

Here are the key dates for the clearing process:

  • June 30th: New UCAS applications after 6pm on this date are automatically entered into clearing
  • July 4th: Deadline for applicants to add an Extra choice
  • July 6th: International Baccalaureate results are published
  • Mid-July: Clearing numbers appear on UCAS Track
  • August 4th: A-level results published in Scotland
  • August 13th: A-level results published in England and Wales
  • August 31st: The end of Adjustment
  • September 7th: Deadline for remaining conditions to be met
  • September 21st: Final deadline for applications to courses commencing in 2020 (all applications must be received by 6pm on this date)
  • October 20th: End of clearing; final deadline for adding clearing choices and for accepting applications​


This is all quite a lot to take in, so don’t be afraid to seek expert advice. UCAS will be on hand to provide you with general guidance on the clearing process, though they won’t be able to supply suggestions as to which particular course you should take up. Make sure you thoroughly research the options available to you so that you’re well prepared to make the best choice.

You’ll only have a limited amount of time to consider the matter (clearing vacancies tend to fill up very quickly), but don’t accept an offer you’ve received via clearing unless you’re clear that it’s a good one for you. Be prepared to be adaptable and keep your feet on the ground but also, stay positive! Clearing might not be the way you’d pictured yourself choosing your uni course, but it could open the door to all sorts of new experiences.

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For any other accommodation queries, our friendly customer service team is waiting to help. Call us on +44 (0)161 850 6664 or email

Find out more about Clearing and hear the success stories from past students who have been through the process.