4 min read

Clearing 2023 explained

Clearing 2023 explained

by Abby Danecki

The Clearing route to university is getting more and more popular each year.

Managed by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), Clearing is an opportunity for universities to fill course vacancies and for students to snap up one of those places.

It's most commonly used by students who don't get the grades they need for their university offers, but there are other reasons you might end up going through Clearing. 

Read our overview of Clearing to find out more, including who can use Clearing, the courses that are available in Clearing and why it might be the route for you.



  1. UCAS Clearing 2023 explained

  2. Who can go through Clearing?

  3. Why might I go through Clearing?

  4. Will the course I want to study be in Clearing?

  5. How do I prepare for Clearing?


UCAS Clearing 2023 explained

Each year, universities have spaces left on their courses after the application window has closed on 30 June. You can apply for one of these places, even if you didn't apply to the university prior to the June deadline.

This year, Clearing opens on 5 July, but only really gets into full swing on A Level Results Day - Thursday 17 August 2023.

Results for Scottish Highers - released by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) - BTecs and International Baccalaureate usually come out ahead of this. This year, SQA Results Day is Tuesday 8 August.

Clearing closes on Tuesday 17 October 2023.  

According to UCAS, last year over 33,000 students secured a university place through Clearing.


Who can go through Clearing?

You are eligible to use Clearing if: 

  • you apply after 30 June  
  • you don't receive any university offers, or none you want to accept 
  • you don’t meet the conditions of your offer(s) 
  • you decline your firm place using the ‘decline my place’ function 
  • you paid the multiple choice application fee of £27 when you submitted your UCAS application

Clearing is open to International students - in fact, thousands of international students use the service every year - and because there's no age limit to applying to university, it can be used by mature students. 

Clearing is also open to students with a wide range of qualifications, including BTec and International Baccalaureate. Find out what qualifications we accept in our course profiles online.

If you're eligible and you have your results, you can start to use Clearing as soon as it opens - you don’t need to wait for A Level Results Day. 


Why might I go through Clearing?

You might go through Clearing if you don't get the grades you need for your university offers but still want to go to university. You'll also be automatically placed in Clearing if you apply after the 30 June deadline.

Some students can have a change of heart about their offer and decide to decline their firm place in favour of a different university and/or course. If you find yourself in this position, it's important you get advice from your teachers and family and really think through your decision. Once you've given up your place, you're unlikely to get it back if you realise you've made a mistake.

Other students who haven't applied to university use the Clearing route once they have their results,

If you haven't already applied you must first register with UCAS and submit your application. You'll then receive a welcome email, with details of how to access your application and your Clearing number. You'll only be able to add your university choice after you've submitted your application.



Will the course I want to study be in Clearing? 

There's no way of knowing what courses will have spaces available before Clearing opens.

Universities start to publish their vacancies from July, so you can start to keep an eye on different courses to shortlist. You can also explore courses that are in Clearing using UCAS' free search tool.

Some UK universities don't take part in Clearing, while courses such as medicine and dentistry rarely feature because there is such a high demand for places.

It's important to remember, too, that spaces can fill up quickly during Clearing - available spots on popular courses at the highest-ranked universities in England will likely be filled within a week of A Level Results Day.

That’s not to say you won’t be able to find a great course after this time, but you will have fewer options available to you. 

If you can't find vacancies in your original course or subject area, don't be disheartened. Try exploring other subjects in a related field.

When you speak to a Clearing adviser they may also suggest other courses that are relevant to you.


How do I prepare for Clearing? 

Clearing isn't a mad dash to get a university place. Going to university is a huge, significant chapter in your life and it deserves careful consideration. So, the best way to prepare for Clearing is to do your research. 

There's lots of practical advice on how to prepare for Clearing in our other blogs - including how to stay calm during Clearing - but here are a few top tips:

  • research alternative universities and degrees that might have different entry requirements. List the ones you’re interested in, putting them in order of priority, so you can contact your preferred university straight away if they have vacancies on the course you want to apply for
  • list the different variations of grades you could receive on the day, then assign courses and universities to each possibility. 
  • when drawing up your list, factor in things like university reputation, location, accommodation offer, and student life on campus – this will give you a more rounded view of what your university experience could be like, and help you feel confident about your choice
  • list any questions you might have and even practise a Clearing phone call, so you know what you want to say and the information you need in order to make an informed decision
  • have all the information you need, including university contact details, close at hand - Clearing can be stressful enough without having to hop from website to website trying to find the right phone number or live chat platform.