Tag Archives: clearing

No Plan B for would be students?

So imagine the scenario: you’re a prospective university student, aiming to get AAB in your A-levels to get your first choice university place and course that you really want to do. After 2 years of hard work and graft it all comes down to the final exams. You’ve revised time and time again and taken all the exams. But there’s a problem. It’s results day and your grades come back BBC … not what you need. What’s the plan?

Well, it has been reported today that more than half (around 54%) of students in England and Wales do not have a backup plan should this scenario arise, according to Which? University. Researchers questioned 1012 students across England and Wales in the anticipation of their A level results due to be released next week.

This isn’t the only alarming statistic they found. Here are some more;

Of the 1,012 students questioned, 939 of them held conditional offers for their university place, dependent of course on their A level results. However less than half of these (48%) were confident of getting the grades required for their first choice.

More than four fifths (82%) said they had an insurance choice as a backup, but 40% of these said they didn’t really want to go there. Just under a quarter (23%) said their insurance choice had the same or higher entry requirements as their first choice university.

Almost three quarters (70%) of those questions had not researched the clearing process for unfilled degree places. Last year 12% of applicants got their places through clearing, but the survey reveals some misunderstanding among this year’s students of how the system works. Some 54% wrongly think that if they do not get the grades for their first choice, but do get their insurance choice, he or she can still apply for another course through clearing. A further 22% said they did not know whether this was true or not. Actually if the student wants to take their chances on clearing, they would have to give up their second choice university place.

Which? University’s Sonia Sodha said a plan B was a good idea “just in case”. Ms Sodha said: “As A-level results day approaches, it’s an understandably stressful and nerve-wracking time for prospective students, especially those who aren’t confident they’ll get into their first choice university. Hopefully they won’t need a back-up plan, but we advise they research all their options just in case.”

Nick Davy, higher education policy manager at the Association of Colleges advised applicants to explore credible alternatives to a three-year full-time academic degree before results day. “These can include full or part-time higher education offered by colleges, which is often cheaper, and a range of professional certificates and diplomas such as marketing and accountancy. There’s also the option of an apprenticeship or higher apprenticeship in a range of occupations. Students need to weigh up what their employment prospects will be after degree study against the debt they will accrue and seriously consider what an alternative educational and training route may bring in terms of expense, career progression and financial rewards.”

Jason Geall, of The Student Room website, also urged planning ahead in case of surprises, either good or bad. Students who exceed their grade predictions can face having to make snap decisions about “whether they want to change university altogether”, said Mr Geall. “With a week to go until A-level results day, we would advise all students to sit down and understand exactly how clearing works, and start sketching out some scenarios. The worst thing would be making a snap decision under pressure that could affect a future career and finding yourself on a course you don’t like. There’s still time, now, to get it right.”

For me this just highlights how unclear the system is when it comes to university and higher education. The government insist on trying to get people into univerisities, yet the career’s advice often doesn’t talk about the clearing process. I’ve more or less gone through university now and I still don’t know exactly how it works, I was fortunate enough to not require that as I got into my first choice and had 3 other offers as a backup. I can see where the confusion is in that respect. The other problem is students in a way are almost taught the mentality of aim for your first choice without a mind to think of backups, as certainly my experience at school I was told ‘you need this for your first choice’ or words to similar effect. It’s a mentality we all need to change so we can maximise the potential of as many would be students as possible.


The rush for Uni places is on! Some statistics to enjoy :)

So, it’s the day after students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland all picked up their A level results, so now the race is on to secure places on a university course. So today’s post, because I love statistics, is going to be a few facts and figures 🙂

By midnight on Thursday, 401,540 applicants had been accepted for undergraduate courses, 9% up on the same time in 2012. This is also higher than 2011, the year before the dreaded tuition fees trebled to £9,000.

The latest figures from Ucas show fewer have entered clearing than last year – 153,070, down almost 9,000 on 2012.

Many universities which do not always enter clearing have done so this year. A spokesman for the Russell Group, who represent 24 leading universities, said all but six had been in clearing. He added that it was not yet clear how much longer Russell Group universities would remain in clearing this year and that Oxford, Cambridge, UCL, Imperial, Bristol and LSE had not entered the process.

The University of Manchester I find quite fascinating. According to their spokesman, they had started with 300 places put forward to the clearing process. By today, approximately 100 places are still to be filled, mainly in modern languages, which may not come as much of a surprise considering there has been a decline in those taking MFL to A level lately. Despite this however, the University of Manchester are not going to give these places to those achieving less than BBB, although they do anticipate to be full by early next week.

So what can we take from all these facts and figures? Well it seems that the seemingly ridiculous increase in tuition fees hasn’t put off people applying for university as much as it was first thought, although these latest figures don’t show the numbers or percentage of those being accepted on university courses from lower income families, a statistic I sure would love to know, and I think the government would too, given the new focus points for Ofsted inspections. Less students entering clearing could mean that more students are getting into their first or second choices which is great, but it could also mean that people who haven’t got into uni may have elected to not go to uni until the following year and retake some of their A level exams to improve their grades.

Students rushed by Clearing process

Today’s article is based on something I don’t have experience of personally. For those who aren’t aware, Clearing is the process for which students who may not have a place at university either due to being rejected or haven’t applied to uni, can apply for spare places on University courses after they have received their A level results.

A poll by consumer group, Which, found more than one in four of 390 first-year students who got a university place through clearing felt unprepared. Thousands of teenagers will enter the annual clearing process on Thursday.

But admissions service Ucas said 94% of those placed through clearing last year were confident with their choice.

Which surveyed 390 first-year university students and found that 20% who gained their place through clearing felt unsupported and on their own during the process, while 27% felt unprepared and 38% felt panicked. Almost half, 48%, describe their experience of clearing as stressful. Some other statistics are just as distressing on the eyes;

37% said they felt pressured into taking the first offer they got through clearing, while 45% rushed into making a decision about where to go

40% said there was a lack of information and advice available for those going into clearing

46% felt prepared when contacting universities about available courses and 73% were not sure what to expect when they called them.

13% of clearing students were not satisfied with their university compared to 6% of other students.

10% of clearing students were dissatisfied with their choice of course compared to 6% of other students.

In some respects I suppose you could say that this may be expected because there is a lot less time available to make a fully informed choice of both which university and which course to attend, so there is a bit of a mad dash to grab a place before the opportunity is gone. The worrying part for me is the 40% feeling that there was a lack of information available for those entering the clearing process. I can only imagine that after the stress of perhaps not meeting the best grades at A level you could have achieved or making a late decision to move to university that adding this on top of it is quite a daunting prospect.

This ‘rush’ to get to university for me doesn’t start at A level though. This choice element occurs right from the beginning of GCSEs, where children in their early teens have to make choices as to which GCSE subjects to take. It is at that point where children are expected to make choices which could affect their careers. In my experience, I had no idea what I would even consider myself to be at that age, so to make informed choices of my career seemed impossible.

Once GCSEs are over, it’s a mad dash to get on A level courses, where choices have to be made which could affect your interests or careers. Choosing the wrong A level subjects for your course could mean that University is out of the question until you take the correct A levels, or you end up in the clearing process to do a separate degree course leading to a different career. These children are 16 at the point of making these A level choices. Even at this age it is difficult to decide what you want to do with your life for some people.

From my experience, secondary school is a buildup of stress that starts right after the first couple of years in, where all the big decisions need to be made, not just A levels. I would like to see this element of choice made a lot clearer for students who may not have the same confidence or idea about what they want to be, and allow them to make more informed decisions, rather than simply rush them in for the sake of government statistics and risk being in the 10% of clearing students not liking their course or 13% not liking their university.