Parents' guide to Clearing

Use this guide to help you to support your child through the Clearing process when applying to university.

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Clearing is now closed for 2020, but your child can apply to study on one of our programmes in 2021. Use the course finder to find out more about our degree programmes.

Is your child planning to go through Clearing? The majority of universities offer places through Clearing to fill the degree programmes that have not reached full capacity. Going to university through Clearing is a much more common way to apply than in the past, with around 20% of students now entering higher education this way.

Any application to university made from Clearing opening (usually in July) until September is considered to be done through Clearing. So that includes anyone who already has qualifications and decides they want to start university (perhaps your child took a year out or is returning to study).

Your child can apply through Clearing if:

  • They didn’t get any offers from the five institutions they put on their UCAS form
  • They were not awarded the grades they needed for their first and second (Firm and Insurance) choice of university
  • They got the right grades to go to their first (Firm) choice of university but have decided they want to go to their second (Insurance) choice instead
  • They’ve changed their minds about what or where they want to study
  • They didn’t apply through UCAS at all 

How to support your child

Making decisions that will affect the next few years (and beyond) may be making your child anxious, and this year has been more stressful than ever with the cancellation of exams and questions over how grades will be decided. But you can do a lot to help your child think through their choices.

If your child is upset by their grades, try to calm them by explaining that going through Clearing is nothing to be scared or embarrassed by. It is a very common way to enter university, with some of the most prestigious institutions taking students through Clearing.

Although it may be tempting to ease your child’s anxiety by speaking to universities on their behalf, your child must be the ones to call. At Goldsmiths we have a very friendly and patient team of people answering calls, and we will do our best to help find a degree course that is suitable for your child, if that is possible.

Although they must make the call, your child may want you to sit beside them while they speak to universities. Before they ring, suggest they write down any questions they have. And make sure they have their UCAS ID number with them, as universities will ask for this.

Have a pad and pen to hand to make notes on what is said. It’s easy, in the panicky atmosphere of Results Day, to forget what has been discussed, especially if your child is calling more than one university.

If your child would rather not speak on the phone, we have lots of other ways you can contact us.

Lots to consider

It is wise to speak to a few institutions to compare what’s available, and also to research the university if your child has not considered it before.

Stress to your child that they should be sure they are really interested in the degree they have chosen – three years is a long time to study a subject if you have only accepted it in order to get into a particular institution.

Your child should consider things beyond what the course is like. What sort of university experience does your child want? Small town or city? Single campus or spread out? Do they want to be able to move into halls?

Many universities, including Goldsmiths, usually offer your child the opportunity to come to the campus for a visit when they can take a look around and meet some of the current students and potentially someone from their academic department before accepting a place. Find out more about visiting us and other ways your child can look around the campus.

Don't rush

It can feel like a clock is ticking for your child to make a decision, but they actually have time to consider their options. On results day, they have 24 hours from 3pm to add their choice of university to their UCAS Track. This is the online system that shows how applications are progressing. Then, under the Consumer Rights Act (2015), they have the right to cancel their offer within 14 days.