Parents - How can you help during clearing?

A level results day is a big day for many thousands of students waiting to see where the next stage of their studies will take them - and, as parents and carers, this means it's a big day for you, too. We know this all might be new to you, or it may have changed since you last looked at how it all works, so we've pulled together some information to help you navigate your way round the ups and downs of results day and Clearing - so you can better support your child.

What is clearing?

Simply put, Clearing is the way thousands of students secure their university place every year. It provides an opportunity to get onto a course by accessing any remaining places a university may have. Students use Clearing if they:

  • Didn’t get the results they needed to take up a university offer, or didn't receive any offers
  • Did better than expected and exceeded their required grades
  • Have changed their mind about their chosen university, course or city of study
  • Apply for a course after 30 June (the closing date for applications through UCAS)

clearing is a mad scramble

Clearing is a very busy time with lots to consider - but your child doesn't need to rush and take the first offer they receive! Every year, upwards of 50,000 students use Clearing to find a place at university and, even though it is wise to act quickly, there is still time to consider all options.

Despite stigma from previous generations, where Clearing was what happened if everything went wrong, this is no longer the case - many of our students even tell us that they found it to be a really positive experience.

Clearing gives your son or daughter the chance to discover courses and universities they might not have previously considered. Even if they get into their firm university choice but have had a change of heart, they can ask to be released into Clearing to apply for a different course at a different university.


When do students enter clearing?

Clearing is best known for being used from results day onwards by students who missed out on a place at their chosen universities.

If your son or daughter didn’t get the grades they needed, they will be entered into Clearing on results day – this will show in their UCAS Track.

However they can make speculative phone calls to universities about a course before results day to be prepared for Clearing. At Hull, we welcome calls in advance of results day - our number is 01482 962938.

Clearing actually opens in July and can be used by students who have yet to secure an offer from this date. The majority of Clearing places won’t become available until after A level results day – but if your son or daughter finds a course earlier than this, they can avoid the post-exam result rush.

High achiever? Help them trade up places

If your son or daughter does better than expected and exceeds the conditions of their firm offer, they might want to consider swapping their existing university place for another university with higher entry requirements through UCAS Adjustment. At Hull we welcome applications through Adjustment.

Students can take advantage of UCAS Adjustment to see if their grades have opened up more possibilities. They might also be eligible for scholarships or bursaries at certain universities. At Hull, for example, students from the UK or the EU who achieve 120 UCAS points or higher from three A levels or equivalent are eligible to a University of Hull Merit Scholarship of £2,000 (terms and conditions apply).

Eligible students will see the option to register for Adjustment in UCAS Track on results day. If they try Adjustment and don’t find a different course, they’ll still keep the course they gained on results day.

How can you help? Top tips for parents

Make a plan B

If you think your son or daughter may need to go through Clearing, you can get ready in advance:

  • Research universities and courses. The full list of vacancies isn’t published on UCAS until results day but you can still draw up a shortlist – including phone numbers and websites for quick reference.

Be available on results day

  • Keep yourself free so that you can be your child's cheerleader when results come out – whether that's leading the celebrations or supporting a change of plan first and then leading the celebrations.
  • This might mean juggling a few commitments or taking some time off work so that you can be on standby both on the day itself and the following day. The University of Hull offers students the chance to come and look around the campus before accepting a course and the sooneryou can do this, the sooner you can all relax and prepare for September.

Check UCAS Track

Login to UCAS Track from 7am on results day to find out whether your son or daughter has a place at their firm or insurance choice university. This is where all official updates will be. If your son or daughter has narrowly missed out on their grades, their university may have accepted them anyway, so check UCAS Track. If the university has not yet made a decision, give the university a call.

UCAS Track will not show the exact exam results - your son or daughter will need to pick up their results from their school or college from 8am. It’s important they do this, as they will need to provide their grades to other universities if they go through Clearing.

Help with the phone calls - but don't make them!

It might be hard to sit back and watch, but university staff will need to speak directly to applicants. There are other ways to help, though!

Understand the process and have details to hand

  • The call will usually be answered first by a member of Clearing call centre staff. They will ask for details such as name, address and UCAS ID number; A level and other exam results or qualifications; what course your child is interested in; and any other details that might help an application such as relevant work experience or non-academic awards such as music qualifications.
  •  After this, the call is usually transferred to an admissions tutor or course leader. Sometimes, there may be a short delay if staff are on other calls, in which case there may be a short wait for a call back.

Make notes

  • Jot down useful information including names and contact details of people your child speaks to on the phone, and details of offers made - or other stages that are neded, for example for courses such as nursing or teaching, an interview will usually be needed.

Share the load

  • While your son or daughter is researching courses or making phone calls, you can help by looking at other factors like the cost of living in a particular area, the accommodation on offer or other benefits such as potential scholarships.

Visit the university

  • When deciding on offers, there is no subsititute to visiting to get a real feel for the campus, see accommodation and facilities for yourself and get all your questions answered by staff and students who know the University best. Our visit days take place every day from Friday 18 August to Friday 25 August – even during the weekend!

Accept the offer!

When your son or daughter is sure they have the offer they want, it's time to log in to UCAS Track and register their Clearing choice. 

And then...

  • It's time to celebrate! There will be a confirmation email from the University with everything you need to know about getting ready for your course, from accommodation to key dates and what to do when. Then go and celebrate their achievement!

Go through clearing - and come out smiling

If your son or daughter misses out on their preferred university course it can seem like the end of the world. But, as these Hull students demonstrate, Clearing can quickly get them back on track.


Matt Evans

Biomedical Science

"I came to Hull through clearing and became president of the students' union! Come and visit. You will fall in love with the campus, you will fall in love with the city - I have."

Watch Matt's Video

Hannah England


"I came to Hull through clearing and graduated with a first class History degree. My main advice if you're going through clearing is widen your choices. It pushes you out of your comfort zone but gives you an opportunity to go somewhere you hadn't considered."

Watch Hannah's Video

Adam Boyne

Computer Science

"From a state of total anxiety and despair, I graduated with a first class Computer Science degree. Not only that, but as a direct result I have founded my own successful company."

Watch Adam's Video