UCAS Confirmation and Clearing Article from Alan Bullock

UCAS Confirmation and Clearing is going to be a volatile market-place this year. While the majority of applicants will still be successful in achieving their Firm Choice university place, it is estimated that more than 20,000 will be left without a place at all.

In previous years advisers were able to reassure a lot of students that, even if they fell slightly short of the grades or points they needed for their Firm Choice university, their place might still be confirmed. This was because admissions tutors would sometimes prefer to honour applicants who had shown a commitment to their university, rather than take students with marginally higher grades through Clearing. This will still happen to some students this year but, with the capping of university places following an increase in applications, the overall situation will be much more acute.

 In my view there isn’t going to be a one-size-fits-all approach when advising students whose results have been disappointing. For some it will be a case of staying calm, weighing up the situation and perhaps taking a year out to reflect and re-orientate themselves. On the other hand there will be others for whom an alternative offer from their Firm or Insurance Choice university, or a place at a different university that comes up in UCAS Clearing, may still provide a good solution. Taking decisive action to change to a different university or different course can be risky, but equally it could be one of those turning points in life that leads to a successful outcome. It really comes down to personal circumstances and preferences.

 The situation becomes more difficult for those students who are only prepared to go to a narrow range of universities that they perceive to be prestigious, especially if the course they want to study is one of those that is popular and over-subscribed. Flexibility can be a big advantage. My own son attended a university that was 60th in the league tables for one of the subjects in his Combined Honours degree and 102nd for the other. Despite this he had a great time, worked hard, gained a respectable degree and has been in secure employment ever since. So the ‘best university’ for an individual student is not necessarily the one with the prestigious ‘reputation’ or the one that’s near the top of the league tables.

 One other factor that raises its head every August is whether an applicant took care when selecting his or her Insurance Choice. For some the Insurance Choice will be their lifeline, provided it was selected carefully in the first place.

 If you are one of those students whose results have been disappointing, try not to be too despondent. Seek advice and then be prepared to adopt any two of the following four approaches: be positive, be decisive, be patient or be flexible. The vast majority of you will re-orientate yourselves successfully, either straight away or after taking some time to reflect.