A Guide to University Clearing 2024

A Guide to University Clearing 2024

Results day is a daunting time for every student, especially when you haven’t received the grades you were expecting. If you haven't secured a place at your chosen university, it’s important to remember that there are alternative options, and many others find themselves in this position. 

Clearing offers the chance to study an alternative course if you haven't secured a place at a university, whether due to not meeting your offer conditions, not receiving any offers, or changing your mind.

This guide will help you understand everything you need to know in order to navigate, and succeed, in the university clearing process. 

What we’ll cover

What is university clearing?

University clearing is a process designed to help students who haven't secured a place at university through their initial applications find suitable courses and institutions. This is often considered a ‘second opportunity ‘ for students to get into university, and works by connecting students seeking a university spot with institutions that still have available spaces.

Universities may have vacancies due to a variety of reasons, such as unfilled offers, changes in student preferences, or newly created courses. Clearing provides an opportunity for institutions to fill these vacancies and for students to pursue higher education.

Clearing is open to all eligible students, regardless of their previous application status. This means you can use clearing if you:

  • Didn't get into your firm (CF) or insurance (CI) choice universities.
  • Didn't get any offers when you first applied.

When does clearing open? (2024)

University clearing is open from Wednesday 5 July 2024. This takes place after final A-Level exam results, allowing students the time to assess their grades and explore alternative options if they didn't quite meet the entry requirements for their initial choices.

As the clearing opening date approaches, make sure to mark it on your calendar or set a reminder.

Once clearing is open, the process typically lasts for several months, ending on the 21 October 2024. It’s a good idea to use this time wisely to research potential universities and courses that interest you. Look into entry requirements, campus facilities, course structures, and any other relevant information. This preparation will give you a head start when it's time to make those important clearing calls.

If you missed the UCAS January deadline, there's still a chance for you to apply before clearing opens. Take advantage of UCAS Extra to check if the university is accepting applications and submit your application. 

How to apply to university through clearing

1. Explore and compare courses

During clearing, universities and colleges publish a list of available undergraduate courses with vacancies. This list is usually made available on university websites and the UCAS website.

Students can search for courses they are interested in and compile a list of those that they may want to apply for. To help make your decision, consider the following tips when researching universities and courses:

  • Identify your priorities: think about what you want from your university experience, including course preferences, location, career prospects, and student support services.
  • Exploring available courses: make use of online resources, university prospectuses, and clearing listings to explore courses that align with your interests and goals.
  • Take note of entry requirements: familiarise yourself with the entry requirements for courses you are interested in to ensure you meet the minimum criteria.
  • Gather supporting documents: prepare important documents such as exam results, reference letters, personal statements (if required), and any other supporting materials requested by universities.

You can find out more about the clearing process at Heriot-Watt University on our main clearing page.

2. Contact universities

Once you have an idea of a course or university you’re interested in, reach out to ask about available course vacancies. You can usually find the university's contact information on their website, or via UCAS.

When you call, have your clearing number, results, and personal statement ready; along with any questions that you might have. Speak to the admissions team or the clearing hotline to discuss your qualifications and why you’re interested in the course.

Follow the instructions provided by each university on how to contact and apply, and ensure that you complete the application accurately and highlight your strengths and suitability for the course.

Do you need a personal statement for clearing?

Typically, a personal statement is not required during the clearing process, although some universities may require this. The personal statement is primarily used during the regular admissions cycle to provide insight into your interests, achievements, and motivations for pursuing a particular course or subject.

During clearing, the focus is more on your qualifications, availability, and discussing your suitability for the available course vacancies directly with the universities. However, it's a good idea to have a copy of your personal statement on hand when contacting universities during clearing, as it can serve as a helpful reference to talk about your interests and strengths if needed.

3. Secure your place

If a university is interested in offering you a place, they may provide you with a verbal offer over the phone. Take note of the details, including the course, start date, and any conditions attached to the offer. It’s possible to secure your place through the university directly, or through UCAS.

  • For UCAS applications: some universities may require you to submit an application through UCAS Track to confirm your acceptance. Upon confirmation from the university, your account will reflect "Clearing accepted”.
  • For direct university applications: if you've submitted your application directly through the university, you'll be required to fill out a Record of Prior Acceptance form. Once they receive this form from you, they'll send a formal confirmation letter that officially secures your place!

Can you go through clearing if you have an offer?

If you already have an offer from a university but are considering clearing, keep in mind that you can only enter clearing if you have declined your initial offer or haven't met the conditions of that offer. Here are some more details on the steps you can take:

  1. Declining an offer: if you have changed your mind about an existing offer, you must first decline this offer to be eligible for clearing. This means formally notifying the university that you will not be accepting their offer of admission. Ensure that you make a well-informed decision before declining an offer in favour of an alternative course.
  2. Unmet offer conditions: if you have not met the conditions of your initial offer, such as not achieving the required grades or qualifications, you may enter clearing. In this case, you can explore alternative options and seek available courses and institutions that align with your qualifications and preferences.

How does student finance work when applying through clearing?

If you've accepted an offer via clearing, you’ll need to take a few additional steps to secure your student loan. The student finance process varies slightly depending on whether you apply for funding during the initial application phase or later on through clearing.

If you’ve already applied for funding but have made changes to your course or the university you will be attending, you’ll simply need to inform Student Finance. Updating your details is straightforward, but it should be done as soon as possible since it may impact the amount of funding you receive.

To update your GOV.UK - Student finance application, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to your Government Student Finance account
  2. Go to 'Your Account'
  3. Then go to 'Change your Application'
  4. Lastly, choose 'University/College and Course to edit the details

If you have not yet applied for student finance, make sure to apply as soon as you can. Applying at your earliest convenience will help increase your chances of receiving your loan in time for your course’s start date. You can register and apply online through the GOV.UK website.

There is a possibility that you may not receive the full amount before the start of your course. While Student Finance will strive to provide you with support shortly after you register, you should still make sure to contact your university to inform them of any delays regarding your funding. 

Tips on calling universities during clearing

  1. Approach the phone call as if it were a job interview: before making the call, take some time to reflect on your strengths and key attributes as a student. It can be helpful to have your personal statement readily available, as this can serve as a prompt to highlight your accomplishments and experiences. Make sure to have some notes about the course and university to hand, too. 
  2. Choose the right environment: find a quiet and comfortable space to make your calls, ensuring minimal distractions. This will help you concentrate, communicate clearly, and make a positive impression.
  3. Ask relevant questions: prepare a list of questions to ask the universities about the courses, entry requirements, available spaces, and any other queries you may have. Asking thoughtful and relevant questions shows your engagement and helps you gather the necessary information to make informed decisions.
  4. Take notes: keep a pen and paper handy to jot down any important notes during your calls. This will help you remember the details of each conversation and make it easier to compare different universities and courses later on.
  5. Be flexible and open-minded: during clearing, be open to considering alternative courses or institutions if your initial choices are not available. Universities may suggest alternative options that could be a good fit for you. Take the time to evaluate these suggestions and consider them based on your interests and aspirations.

Clearing at Heriot-Watt University

Clearing provides you with the opportunity to reflect on what you want to get out of your university experience, as well as your future career. At Heriot-Watt, we are focused on enhancing the quality of education, life and opportunities for all students.

Here are some of the many reasons to consider Heriot-Watt:

  • Industry connections and employability: our university's focus on practical skills development ensures that you graduate with the expertise and experience sought after by employers.
  • Campus life and student experience: engage in clubs and activities that cater to a range of interests. Enjoy state-of-the-art sports facilities, support services, and a campus environment designed to enhance your overall student experience.
  • Global perspective: with campuses across the globe, including Edinburgh, Orkney, Dubai, and Malaysia, you'll gain a global perspective and have access to diverse cultural experiences.
  • Research excellence: be part of groundbreaking projects and contribute to scientific advancements in various fields. Our university's impressive research achievements and collaborations will ignite your curiosity and enable you to make a real impact in your chosen discipline.
  • Focus on sustainability: we are committed to sustainability and environmental stewardship. Get involved in initiatives that tackle climate change, renewable energy, and sustainable development.
  • Flexibility and online learning: our university offers online and blended learning options, allowing you to customise your learning experience to suit your needs. Embrace technology and access high-quality education from wherever you are.


University clearing is an opportunity to secure a place at a university or college, even if you haven't received any offers or didn't meet your initial offer conditions. By understanding the clearing process and following the steps outlined in this guide, you can navigate this phase with confidence and increase your chances of finding the right course and institution for your academic journey.

Remember to conduct thorough research, prepare your application materials, and be proactive in contacting universities. Stay updated with the opening and closing dates for clearing in 2024 and make sure to submit your applications within the specified timeframe. 

With proper preparation, guidance, and determination, you can find the right course and institution that will set you on the path to success.

Find out more about Clearing at Heriot-Watt

Our friendly admissions and clearing team are here to help you through the process. To learn more about your options, get in touch with us or find more information on our clearing page