A guide to clearing for international students

11 July 2019 | Advice for International Students | Guest Author

Liz Carlile, Head of Admissions at the University of Sheffield


This article was written by Liz Carlile, Head of Admissions at the University of Sheffield



If you are soon to receive your exam results you may be thinking about studying at a UK university. For undergraduate study options in the UK, the traditional application route is via the general application system, UCAS.

Although lots of people apply between September and January, it's not too late. Some courses have late applications available now, and for students soon to be armed with their exam results, an alternative route to apply for UK study opens up through a process known as Clearing.

There will be plenty of vacancies through Clearing this year for international students who haven’t yet secured a place, or for those who might want to change their mind about the course or place they would like to study.

Some institutions like the University of Sheffield will be able to take some applications from well-qualified applicants as soon as you have your results, or will give you the option to register your interest in places so the university can contact you if they become available.

UCAS.com lists most vacancies, so this is the best place to go to get an idea of what’s out there across the whole of the UK– keep checking as these will be updated throughout the Clearing period.

Also check individual university websites if you know where it is you want to study. There will be more details about the courses on university’s own websites and you can check out more information about the university and Students’ Union there as well.

The Students’ Union in the UK is a student-run society where you can join lots of different clubs and societies– anything from Bollywood dancing and rowing to baking, meditation or debating. It is a great way to make new friends and gain experience through extra-curricular activities. You can take part in projects, competitions, tournaments, or social events throughout the year.

UK students receive their A-level results on 15 August this year. Even if universities don’t advertise their vacancies until later in Clearing,  you can still do your research beforehand. It’s an important decision and you will want to pick the place that is right for you as you’ll be living there for the next few years of your life.

Look at the accommodation that is available – some universities like the University of Sheffield offer an accommodation guarantee for students who secure a place with them in Clearing and Adjustment and it’s important to look at what is on offer here. If you are unable visit the campus, lots of universities now have virtual tours in place where you can get an idea of the facilities at the institution. The University of Sheffield offers a virtual open day so you can take a look around and chat to current students and staff and ask any questions you might have.

The most important thing is to take your time over your decision. Consider your options, ask all your questions, and make sure you are happy with your choice. If you can’t find the course you want to study this year you can apply again next year. It’s better to make the right choice and go the following year than to choose a course or university you aren’t quite happy with now. When you apply you will already have your results so you can focus on telling the university what you have planned for your year out and why you have decided it is the place you want to study now.

Once you have secured your place it will be time to start thinking about arriving in the UK and settling in. Most universities will have specific advice available for international students including how to apply for a visa and what to pack to cope with the British winter! Some universities like Sheffield offer induction programmes to help you when you arrive.  Many universities will also have student ambassadors – current students from across the world who are happy to share their experiences of studying in the UK and all the things that they love about being a student here. We regularly hear from students who are considering studying in the UK and how they value speaking to someone who has been through similar experiences and may also be from the same country.

When you arrive in the UK, make the most of the support and advice sessions that are provided as you will get to know your new home city, find your way around your university and meet people who are all starting out on the same journey together.

If you are expecting your results next year, UCAS will reopen in September 2019 for 2020 entry. You do not have to wait for your final results to be released to apply for UK undergraduate courses - you can apply for undergraduate study with your predicted grades. You will be given a conditional offer and this will be changed to unconditional after you get your results and as soon as all the conditions of your application have been met.

For more information about studying in the UK, expert advice and invites to free webinars, sign up to the What University UK newsletter here.

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