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A level results and clearing: what to do next

Our guide to what to do next after receiving your A-level results - whether you've got into your chosen university or not - and an explanation as to how clearing works

A-level students at Farnborough Hill
A-level students at Farnborough Hill

Results day is a time for many A-level students to celebrate, but for some things don't go according to plan.

Some university hopefuls will find today that their grades are not what they expected and they have fallen short of the conditional offers they received for places on undergraduate courses.

Those who find themselves in this situation shouldn't panic, however, as the UCAS clearing service gives students with no offers the chance to see which courses still have places remaining.

Using the online clearing search tool at www.ucas.com, which went live at midnight, students whose results are reasonable and who are flexible on subject and location have a good chance of finding another course.

University Centre Farnborough, part of Farnborough College of Technology, has a number of places available through clearing for its degree courses awarded by the University of Surrey.

Iain Wolloff, deputy principal at Farnborough College of Technology, said clearing was just one option open to students who lose their conditional offers.

They could also choose to go back to college to re-take exams, enroll on a foundation or access course to prepare for university or undertake an apprenticeship to gain skills and qualifications while they earn.

"We tell our students that the important thing is to remain calm and positive, and to come in and talk to their tutors about their options," Mr Wolloff said. "There are lots of people who have succeeded in life who didn't get the grades first time round."

The University Centre Farnborough admissions office is available on 01252 407040.

The University of Surrey has listed its clearing vacancies at www.surrey.ac.uk/clearing. They cover a broad spectrum of subjects such as science, maths, business, politics, law, food, film, languages and sport.

Its admissions team advises students to get a copy of the clearing listings printed in national newspapers on results day, in case heavy online traffic means the UCAS website is working more slowly than normal.

It also pays to make a list of the clearing hotline numbers at the universities they want to target, and when they open. Surrey’s clearing hotline number is 0800 052 2248 and the lines open at 7am on Thursday.

Clearing

Before making any calls to universities, students should make sure they have their results, unique UCAS number and URN to hand, as well as a pen and paper.

Students should make the calls personally, rather than asking a parent to do it, and they should note down the name of anyone they speak to as this will save time if they have to call back.

It is vital that they confirm the deadline for responding to any clearing offer, as these can vary. No offer can be accepted by students before 5pm today, to give them time to consider all their options.

Although the university open days have passed, students can get a feel for a particular campus by taking a virtual tour offered by many institutions including the University of Surrey.

Sarah Simms, head of admissions at University for the Creative Arts (UCA) in Farnham, warned students to check on the status of any conditional offers as universities can be flexible with 'near-miss' students.

Mrs Simms stressed that clearing isn't only for those who haven't obtained the grades they need, but for young people who are having a change of heart about their course choice.

"We regularly hear from students who are looking to switch from an academic degree to one in the arts," she said. "Clearing is an opportunity to investigate alternative courses and institutions."

She also dispelled the myth that courses included in clearing are not popular or well-regarded.

"Some universities will use clearing as a way to recruit high-calibre students. There are always last minute changes in circumstances, and clearing is a great way to take advantage of this natural churn."

The UCA Farnham admissions team is available to help on 01252 892960 and the UCA's national clearing helpline is 0800 068 0088.

 
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