A parent's and supporter's guide to Clearing

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Want to support your child through university Clearing? You're not alone.

Clearing can be a difficult time but it needn't be. To help you offer your child the best support, we want to dispel some of the myths you may have heard surrounding Clearing.

What is Clearing?

Put simply, Clearing is the process of universities filling their vacant spaces for this academic year, after the main cycle of applications has closed. The unique nature of Clearing means that your child will be applying with their actual grades, rather than predicted, so once they receive their results they can apply.

Why would my child use Clearing?

There’s no simple answer for this but generally speaking, there are 4 reasons to enter Clearing:

  1. They have changed their mind about their firm choice. If they’ve had second thoughts about their chosen university or course, it’s not too late. A lot of students use Clearing to simply change their mind and secure a place elsewhere.
  2. They didn’t meet the conditions of their Firm or Insurance offers. Let’s not beat around the bush – sometimes Clearing is entered because they didn’t meet the entry requirements set by their choices. The most important thing in this situation is to remind your child that this is not the end of the world, and Clearing is there to help them, not trip them up!
  3. Their results are better than they thought. If your child receives their results and gets a pleasant surprise, they may want to upgrade their university choice or apply for a course they previously thought was out of reach – Clearing is the chance to do exactly that.
  4. They planned to wait for Clearing all along. If your child planned to apply via Clearing weeks or even months ago, they’re not alone! Every year we see increasing numbers of applicants who simply choose to wait until they get their results to make their university choices.

What can I do to help in Clearing?

You are, of course, number one tea maker and hug-giver. The truth is, the best thing you can do for your child over Clearing is just be there to support them through it and keep them calm. It isn’t the ‘big deal’ many students think it is, but reassurance from you will make all the difference. Getting online and researching the institutions your child is interested in can be helpful too – whether that’s to check available courses or find out about Clearing Open Day opportunities.

What are the key things I should know about Clearing?


  • Your child can, and should, take their time. Some universities may try and put time pressure on their offer. It’s important to remember that this is a big decision, so your child should take their time and make the best choice for them. Don’t let universities push your child into the wrong decision. Each institution sets their own time restrictions on whether an offer ‘expires’ – at Essex, we have no formal time limit. We want your child to choose Essex because they want to, not because they felt forced by a time restriction!
  • It’s very common to be in Clearing. More and more students are entering university via Clearing so rest assured that your child is far from the odd one out. Last year over 73,000 students secured their place at university through Clearing.
  • An institution offering Clearing spaces isn’t a bad sign. Just as it’s very common for students to enter Clearing, it’s also very common for universities to offer Clearing spaces. It’s not a signifier of a lesser quality institution, or a sign they’re struggling for numbers – it’s just another part of the recruitment process. Not all universities will go in to Clearing – it’s true – but the majority will, and there’s no shame in doing so.


I still have more questions, who can I ask?

You’ll find lots of other useful information on our What is Clearing and Clearing FAQ pages. And if you have more questions after that hop over to Live Chat and ask one of our team directly!