A-level results - what is clearing? Here are some top tips for Lancashire teenagers keen to study for a degree

When A-level results are released on Thursday, around 75 per cent of students who want to go to university are likely to get into their first choice.
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But not everyone will get their grades – however this doesn’t mean you can’t study for a degree if you still want to.

Last year, a record number of students found university places through clearing – a system which helps universities match students who don’t have a place to courses which still have space.

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But this year, because of the pandemic, demand is expected to outstrip supply.

It's A-level results day on ThursdayIt's A-level results day on Thursday
It's A-level results day on Thursday

Last year’s most popular choices in clearing were business studies, nursing, sciences, creative arts, engineering and law.

According to an analysis by DataHE, the number of students without a confirmed place at University has increased from 16,000 in 2019 to 28,000 in 2022 leaving many feeling anxious for the expected outcome later this week.

The decrease in top grades is essential, according to the UCAS Chief Executive, Clare Marchant, stating the government had to halt grade inflation to bring results back to the pre-pandemic level. Many students throughout the UK will be disappointed, after leading figures have estimated 80,000 fewer As and A*s than last year, resulting in tens of thousands of students not securing their course or university of choice.

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On results day, you can check Ucas Track first thing to see if you’ve been accepted, or if you’re in clearing.

What is clearing?

Clearing is the process that students use to access university AFTER they’ve received their A-level level results (or A-level equivalents).

Is it just for those who didn’t get their expected grades?

No, Covid has really affected the way people are thinking about university. Last year’s results were affected by the pandemic, but that didn’t put young people off from going to university. The number of students accepting a place outstripped the previous year’s record, with 435,000 students finding spots within a day of receiving their A-level results, an increase of 5,000 on 2020, according to data from the University and College Admissions Service (Ucas).

Last year, 149,000 students were still hunting for places in clearing the day after A-level results, a 15% rise on 2020. A further 11,000 had already found places, including those who applied directly to clearing.

What if my grades are higher than I expected?

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It probably won’t make a difference this year because the trade-up system called ‘adjustment’ isn’t running.

“All universities will have a minimum grade threshold,” says Dr Lisette Johnston, formerly a BBC World News Editor and now Head of School at ScreenSpace. “But even if your grades aren’t as good as you’d hoped, you can still get a place if you’re able to express why your grades weren’t as you’d expected, and your enthusiasm for the subject shines through.”

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