How can teachers support pupils through the clearing process?

Northumbria University explain what teachers can do to make sure pupils understand how to use the clearing process effectively

With results day just days away, it’s not only the students that are feeling nervous and excited – so are the teachers who have been working hard teaching in the run-up to exams, coursework and practicals. Whilst results day is a happy day for some pupils, as they find out their hard work has paid off and they have secured a place at university, for others, the news might not be what they had hoped for.

For these students, and those who have changed their mind about where they want to study at university, they have the opportunity to go through UCAS clearing to secure a university place. As teachers are present on results day, students can go to them for help – so how can teachers support students who need to go through the UCAS clearing process?

Results day

On results day, teachers should be there to support pupils – whether that be to congratulate them on their hard work and successful grades, or to support students on the next step. For those that miss out on the grades for their chosen university, it’s important to stress that there are other options available to them.

Remind students that if they don’t receive the grades they had hoped for, it is not the end of the world. UCAS Clearing is simply another opportunity to find the perfect university and course for your higher education career. They’ll be applying alongside students that have had a change of heart and want to apply onto a new course or to a different university from their original choice. In 2016 alone, 33,000 students secured their university places through clearing. As a teacher, you should be available to support them through the process.   

The UCAS Clearing Process

First things first, make it clear to pupils that you are there to help and support them through the process – clearing should not be a topic of worry or concern, so try and relax students before they start making phone calls the universities. Prepare students for the conversations they should expect – you cannot ring on behalf of the student. Universities will only speak directly to the student in the clearing process.

Make sure they have access to a phone with all the required information ready – UCAS number, clearing number and their grades so that they can pass the information onto universities. Direct them to the UCAS website so that they can shortlist universities and courses that they are interested in.

Direct them to the UCAS website where all the available courses for all universities along with any grade requirements are listed. As you can imagine, there is an extensive list to choose from. Teachers should help pupils narrow it down to the universities they want to apply to, and what courses they are interested in. The majority of students (65%) will look for similar courses to what they have previously applied for, whereas 35% will choose a different course. They can approach as many universities as they want during clearing, and they don’t need to accept their first offer. It is important that you guide them in the right direction to help them make the right decision and accept the offer that is right for them.

Once a university has verbally confirmed a place offer, you must then direct students back to UCAS track to enter the course details, and confirm – the university will review the application on UCAS track before confirming at their end.

You can also assist pupils who need university accommodation by helping them research the area of their new university, the cost of living and the availability. Overall, your main priority as a teacher is to support your pupils through the process. Be a shoulder to cry on and a support network throughout the clearing process. For students that don’t have a parent or guardian to help, having you there to help, so that they don’t have to do it alone, will mean the most to them.

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