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Wednesday, 16 August, 2000, 19:58 GMT 20:58 UK
Clearing up after results day
woman taking calls from students
Clearing advice lines are preparing for a flood of calls
Many A-level students will be celebrating on Thursday after achieving the results they need to get into university.

But many others will be bitterly disappointed because they failed to do as well as they had hoped, missing out on the grades they need to take up their provisional offers.

It is possible they will still get in if they contact admissions departments and discuss their situations.

But each year, thousands of students end up going through the clearing process, where they are matched up with institutions with places to spare.

The clearing system can also help students who had not applied to university before getting their results, but who then change their minds - often because their grades are better than they had expected.

students sitting in lecture theatre
You too could soon be attending a lecture if you apply through clearing

The service is run by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas), which will send clearing entry forms in the post automatically to those eligible.

Last year, more than 60,000 students found their places through clearing, although the percentage of total applicants doing so was actually the second lowest since the current Ucas system began in 1994.

One in seven accepted applicants - 14.3% - went through clearing in 1999, down from 15.2% in 1998.

This year, Ucas has boosted the computing power of its clearing website by 400% to cope with an expected increase in the number of people trying to find a university place online.

What to do

First, fill in the clearing entry form.

Next, find out which courses have vacancies. Official lists of these will be in some newspapers, on Ceefax on BBC2 pages 700 to 799, and on the Ucas website along with more advice.

Telephone the institutions offering the courses you are interested in. Ucas advises doing this yourself: do not leave it to teachers or parents because admissions tutors are far less likely to be impressed if they cannot hear from you yourself.

If you are asked to send in your clearing form, they are in effect making you an offer. Do not necessarily jump at the first one you get. But if you are sure, then go ahead.

hands dialling phone
Telephone insitutions which have courses you are interested in

It is always worth taking the trouble to visit the place, have a look around, ask questions. Nobody wants you to jump in without considering all the options, then drop out because you are not happy there.

All being well, the college or university will check what you have put on your clearing form and confirm to Ucas that you have a place. Ucas will confirm that in writing to you.

As well as its website, Ucas is running a telephone helpline on 01242 227788.

The BBC's Student Essential website will also offer advice and updates on latest vacancies, as will its helpline on 0808 100 8000.

Last year the phoneline received 25,000 calls from panic stricken students.

A Student Essentials programme featuring information and advice on exam results and clearing will be screened on Sunday 20 August at 11.40am on BBC2.

Other options

In the annual scramble for university places, it is easy to forget that there are other options.

According to a survey published on Thursday, many students feel under pressure to obtain a degree instead of finding a job or working for a vocational qualification.

Many feel pressured by their parents, and 70% of students feel they have to go to university to get a "better job", the research suggests.

But it points out that many sixth formers have not yet made up their minds about what career they would like to pursue, and some students graduate without knowing if they have the right skills for their chosen jobs.

The survey was commissioned by Springboard, a division of Hobsons Publishing, which produces guides for students offering advice on careers and education choices.

Publishing director Tanja Kuveljic said: "A degree is a valuable asset, but in certain industries, a vocational based qualification or work experience will stand you in better stead.

"It's concerning that so many sixth formers are desperate to go into higher education but don't know if this is going to progress their career at the end of their course.

"Students need to know about the differing routes into employment, and need to be given good support and advice to effectively forward plan for their career."



How they did:




0808 100 8000
Worried? Phone or click for exam results advice
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30 Nov 99 | UK Education
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