Results day is a major life event and it can feel like everything that happens for the rest of your life hinges on whatever is written inside that envelope. This isn’t the case though - you can still access university regardless of the grades you get. In this guide, we’ve teamed up with the University of Huddersfield to go through what to do if your results are lower than you expected.
Low results don’t have to be the end of your academic dreams and you haven’t let anyone down. Allow yourself some time to be upset if that’s how you feel, then start focusing on your next steps. Did you know that your firm or insurance universities might still have accepted you with lower results? And if they haven’t accepted you, that just opens up a whole new world of possibilities through Clearing.
The courses and universities available through Clearing might not be exactly what you had in mind from the start, but if you keep an open mind and do your research, you’ll find a place that is right for you.
What should you do first?
First, log on to UCAS Track and check if you have been accepted by either your firm or insurance universities. Some universities will still accept you with lower grades if the places are available, and some might even let you skip this step by sending you an email or text confirming whether you have your place. You might have to be patient though if you’re waiting on GCSE or National 5 results, or any other results that are included in the conditions of your offer.
If you have been accepted, you can breathe easy and start planning for uni life! If you haven’t, don’t panic - you’ll automatically be entered into Clearing along with thousands of other students who didn’t quite get their expected results for tons of different reasons. In fact, in 2021 more than 45,000 students secured their university place through Clearing!
If your results have got you reconsidering university, that’s perfectly ok too! You can choose to take a year out to work or retake your exams, or you could start an apprenticeship in your chosen field of study to get some more hands on experience before you apply to uni again, or - even - not at all. Have a chat with your family and friends, and contact your school if you want guidance from a teacher.
How do you use Clearing?
If you do choose to go ahead and use Clearing to find a new course, start off by making a list of possible alternative courses and cities - Clearing can be a little overwhelming and having this list before you start will help you stay focused and avoid straying too far from what you actually want to study. UCAS will also match you with courses and universities that seem suitable (based on things like your results, your initial choices, what the universities are looking for, and so on).
You can use Unifrog’s Clearing tool from 5 July to find vacancies on courses you’re interested in. Just like with the UK university shortlisting tool, you’ll be able to filter, rank, and search to find the right course for you. Remember to always check that vacancies are still live by calling the university or checking their website - places in Clearing change so quickly and universities will always be the best place to find the most up to date information.
Try to be flexible when you’re searching for courses - you might have more of a chance of getting in if you consider courses that are slightly different to what you applied for originally, or for joint courses where you study two subjects at the same time.
How do you apply for a Clearing vacancy?
Some universities will expect you to phone them, while others will use live-chats, registration forms, or social media - if you are offered a place through any of these, it will be confirmed in writing. However you need to apply, do it as soon as possible - Clearing places are super competitive and popular courses get filled up quickly! You can’t ask a parent or friend to get in touch for you; you have to do it yourself. You’re about to start a super independent stage of your life so even if you’re shy, be brave! Aside from that, lots of universities will only offer a place if they are speaking to the candidate directly.
When you speak with universities, you need your exam results and your Personal Statement - you might be asked questions about your suitability and having this handy will help. The Clearing helpline teams are always friendly and helpful - it’s their job to help you find the right course for you, so they won’t be trying to catch you out! They’ll talk you through the process, take down your personal details, and check if you’re qualified for the course you’re interested in. If not, they may be able to offer you alternatives. Some teams may invite you for an interview - which could be face-to-face or online - before they can make you an offer
When you have been made an offer, you need to add the Clearing choice in UCAS Track using the ‘Add Clearing choice’ button. You cannot reject a Clearing choice once you’ve added it, so make sure you contact the university you want to go to the most first; there are no take-backs! Once you’ve added the choice, the university will send you information on your next steps, and you’re in!
What should you do next?
Adding a Clearing choice to UCAS Track solidifies your choice so now you can relax and celebrate getting into university!
Most universities will offer you the opportunity to visit campus once you’ve been made an offer, and they’ll send you loads of information on accommodation, support services, and student finance. You should also receive contact details to ask questions or clarify anything. Check out our guide ‘Clearing: What should you do after you accept a place?’ for more information.
Good luck at university!
Good stuff from elsewhere
University of Huddersfield's Clearing page
More information about Clearing direct from the University of Huddersfield