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Clearing 2016: how to call universities

Calling universities plays a crucial part in the Clearing process. But before you pick up the phone, here are some top tips from admissions tutors, careers advisers and students…

Don't miss all our advice for Ucas Clearing 2016 – plus our student blogger reveals what it's really like to go through Clearing.

Your Clearing call could be an interview

When calling a university, the conversation could just involve a confirmation of your grades and that there's a place still available with your name on it. On the other hand, you may find yourself on the receiving end of some tricky questions designed to test out your suitability for the course.

An engineering student at Aston University found the Clearing process very straightforward: ‘Called them, told them about my qualifications and got a place in less than 15 minutes.’ 

But for a tourism student from London South Bank University, bagging his Clearing place was a bit more involved: ‘I had a 30 minute telephone call which included filling out the application form and an informal interview.’ 

It’s best to be prepared for whatever comes your way see our guide on university interviews for some useful pointers to help you prep.

Show enthusiasm for the Clearing course 

You may already have been preparing for Clearing  but if you’re one of the many taken by surprise on results day, take some time to research specific courses and universities you find in Clearing before picking up the phone.

After you've scoured Ucas for specific Clearing vacancies, look up the relevant course and university here on Which? University - our course and university profiles combine official course facts, stats and info, and views on everything from accommodation to what lectures are like, from current students, so you can really do your homework.

For each university you’re planning to phone, have a list of notes or bullet points to hand about why a certain course or university appeals to you, as well as a couple of question ideas to ask them, to demonstrate that you're keen on the course and university.

We’re looking to make sure that an applicant in Clearing has made a considered choice to choose our university and the opportunities and the student experience that we offer here. David Giles | Head Of Admissions - University Of East Anglia

The most important thing I would ever ask a student is ‘why do you want to study my subject, and why do you want to do it at my university?' Regardless of whether they’re coming through Clearing or the regular cycle, it’s really the students who can best answer this that will stand out the most. Matthew Leeke | Admissions Tutor - University Of Warwick


Your Clearing call checklist

Organisation is key when it comes to make the call – here are your essential tips:

Before the call

  • Have your Ucas number and your grades close to hand.
  • Have pen and paper next to you, to write down names, numbers and times to call back.
  • Keep your notes with what you want to say and your list of numbers nearby.
  • Re-read and print out your personal statement, so you can refer to that too.
  • Head to a quiet room where you won't be disturbed.
  • Keep your phone charged! 

During the call

  • In the busy Clearing period you might find you’re on hold for a while be patient and don’t panic if you can’t get through straight away.
  • If it's engaged, don't waste time move on to your next option and try again later.
  • Get names, emails and direct phone numbers in case you have to re-connect or follow up. ‘Universities often involve extra staff to cover the Clearing period so it’s important to know who has provided information if you need to ring back,’ careers adviser Stella Barnes explains.
  • Speak clearly and confidently and don't be afraid to be honest about why you think you didn't achieve your grades, if asked.
  • Sell yourself why should the tutor give you a place on the course? Use examples to demonstrate your enthusiasm for the subject area, and make specific references to something about that particular course you uncovered during your research.
  • As a politics student at Coventry University sums up: ‘Treat it like speed-dating; if they can't offer you what you are looking for, move on!'

After the call

  • After you’ve got your verbal offer from the university you want to go to (and you're sure about going there!), head straight to Ucas Track to do all the necessary paperwork/ electronic admin.


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