A-Level results day: parents' guide to clearing


Lots of teens will be hoping to secure a university place on 16th August; an exciting but undoubtedly nerve-racking time for them and for you.

Whether your child gets the grades to take up an existing offer, does better than expected or doesn’t achieve what they hoped they would, it’s important to understand and if necessary support them through ‘clearing’.

What is Clearing?

Clearing is part of the UCAS application process where students can find and apply for university places that haven’t been filled yet. It’s one of many options for your child and can be used if:

  • They’ve completed a UCAS application
  • They don’t get any offers
  • Offers aren’t confirmed
  • They’ve turned down all the offers received.

Many universities (including the most prestigious ones) have seen increasing numbers of undergraduates joining their ranks through clearing in recent years and with overall numbers of applications to universities falling, potential students (and their parents) should see going through clearing as a positive opportunity.

Find out what’s available on the UCAS or individual university websites, have a browse together or suggest your child takes a look themselves. They'll know clearing is available if their track status on UCAS says 'You are in clearing' or 'Clearing has started'.

Once a suitable course has been found they’ll need to start contacting course providers directly by phone (most universities will have a clearing hotline). The admissions officer or course director will ask for details from their UCAS profile so be sure they can log in and have these to hand:

  • UCAS clearing number
  • Personal ID number.

Your child may be feeling disappointed about their results or may wish to change their plans after a period of reflection. Try to understand and be supportive of their decision. For the vast majority of students, things do work out positively.

Don’t hesitate to suggest your child talks with an adviser or member of staff at their school or college too.

Top Tips

Our top tips in helping your child make the right call:

  1. Stay calm, upbeat and supportive. Take a break, have a cuppa and talk it over. DO NOT PANIC!
  2. Be there if they need you, but give them space and let them lead
  3. Have pens and paper nearby to scribble down notes. Encourage them to have all information to hand ahead of each call to a clearing hotline
  4. Discuss pros and cons of offers such as whether accommodation is available for the chosen university or course fees.

There's lots of information out there but we particularly liked these:
What Uni? - A Parent’s Guide to Clearing
The Guardian - Clearing: how parents can help

Visit ucas.com for more information and good luck to everyone getting results!

Read more about surviving results day and find out what other options are available here.

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