Universities Brace For The Biggest Ever Clearing Day

Each year, there is an increasing number of students who secure places at universities through clearing, but 2020 is expected to see the highest number yet. The extended lockdown has prompted some students to rethink their course choices, while others waited for a clearer picture of what the autumn term would look like. Moreover, due to international students not being able to attend, universities are expected to have a large number of vacant spaces that they are eager to fill.

According to Rachel Hewitt of the Higher Education Policy Institute, "It’s a buyer’s market, due to a demographic dip in the number of 18-year-olds and the pandemic. This year’s students will have more options available to them than ever before." However, competition is still expected to be fierce, as the University and College Admissions Service reported considerable increases in applications during lockdown.

Despite these challenges, Universities are used to managing substantial volumes of inquiries as around 73,000 students secured places via clearing last year. Therefore, most universities have already started running virtual open days, social media Q&As, and advertising vacancies in preparation for A-level results day on August 13th when clearing opens to offer-holders. Hewitt suggests that students prioritize checking the possible balance of online and face-to-face teaching before selecting a course.

Many students holding offers plan to use clearing as an opportunity to upgrade their course or university. Even though she already has a place for Biochemistry, year 13 student from Woolwich, Ijenu Chikwe, plans to give Medicine a try. Traditionally, clearing has been used for obtaining places in non-competitive courses and universities, but that is changing with a possibility of a further shift this year caused by the drop in international student enrollment. Hence, Chikwe has been preparing rigorously for the day, with a meticulous schedule, including Ucas timings and arrival times.

Gary Davies, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Student Recruitment at London Metropolitan University, advises that students should not rush the process. He says “Think about the experience you get from the university when you receive the offer and use that as a proxy for the type of involvement you’ll have when you enroll as a student. Focus on course differences between the institutions for which you’re holding offers, since there is no national curriculum in higher education.”

There are some important dates to note for students. August 13th is A-level results day, but clearing will already be open for students without offers. If a student missed their grades, they will enter clearing. If they did better than anticipated, they can enter adjustment. And if they changed their mind, they can release themselves from their offer.

September 1st is the last day for adjustment and September 7th is the deadline for providing any extra information that the university requires to meet offer conditions. September 8th onwards is when a student who wants to defer for a year can start applying through Ucas for courses starting in 2021.

The final date for submitting applications for courses starting in 2020 is September 21st. No clearing will be allowed after this date, and students will need to approach universities and colleges directly.

Meanwhile, the deadline for 2021 applications to Oxford and Cambridge and most courses in medicine, veterinary medicine/science, and dentistry is October 15th, 2020. Finally, all applications to undergraduate courses starting in 2021 will be considered equally before January 15th, 2021. Universities don’t have to consider applications received after this date, although they can if there are spaces available.


  • codyyoung

    Cody Young is an educational blogger. Cody is currently a student at the University of Utah pursuing a degree in communications. Cody has a passion for writing and sharing knowledge with others.



Cody Young is an educational blogger. Cody is currently a student at the University of Utah pursuing a degree in communications. Cody has a passion for writing and sharing knowledge with others.

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