Parents and supporters' guide to Clearing

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

Primary page content

Clearing 2021 is now closed. However, many of our degrees are open now for applications for autumn 2022. Use the course finder to find out more about our programmes.

Is your child or someone you care for 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. According to WhatUni, in 2020 more than 73,000 students used Clearing.

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 (i.e. someone who took a year out or is returning to study).

Someone 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 provide support

Making decisions that will affect the next few years (and beyond) may make a person anxious, and this year has been more stressful than ever, with changes to assessments and so much time in the classroom lost. But you can do a lot to help your child or dependant think through their choices.

If your child or dependant 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 / dependant's anxiety by speaking to universities on their behalf, they must be the one 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 or dependant, if that is possible.

Although they must make the call, your child or dependant 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 or dependant would rather not speak on the phone, we will have lots of other ways you can contact us. These will be displayed on our website around Results Day.

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 or dependant has not considered it before.

Stress 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 or dependant should consider things beyond what the course is like. What sort of university experience do they 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 or dependant the opportunity to come to the campus for a visit when they can take a look around and meet some of the current students before accepting a place. Find out more about visiting us and other ways you can look around the campus, including our Virtual Tour.

Don't rush

It can feel like a clock is ticking to make a decision, but they actually have time to consider their options. On Results Day, they have time to add their choice of university to their UCAS Track (24 hours from 2pm). 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.