University clearing: What to do if you didn't get the A-Level grades you needed, but still want a university place

Picture by PA
Picture by PA

Thousands of students across the North East have been celebrating as their university places are confirmed - but for others, there is disappointment and worry.

The university admissions service UCAS has congratulated the 416,310 students who have been accepted at UK universities and colleges so far this year.

However, the number of those taking up places is down 2% compared with the same point last year.

And the agency is offering warm words of encouragement and advice for those who have missed out on their grades, but still want to gain a university place.

University applicants can now sign in to track to see if they have been accepted or are eligible for clearing – and for those who have been unsuccessful in their first choices, they’ll be able to add a Clearing choice from 3pm today.

Clare Marchant, UCAS’ chief executive, said: "Congratulations to everyone who has received good news today. On behalf of everyone at UCAS, well done and best of luck for your studies.

"If you have not done as well as you had hoped, try not to worry – you have plenty of options, and every year many people who have missed out on their grades find high quality and rewarding courses through Clearing.

"Make sure you take some time to think about what you want to do next, and seek advice from those who know you best – parents, teachers, and friends.

"If you decide you want to start a degree this year, UCAS can offer all the support you need. You can search around 45,000 courses with Clearing vacancies on – you’ll need to contact universities and colleges directly to discuss the courses you’re interested in before deciding if you want to accept an offer.

She added: "To all those who do secure a place, remember you are embarking on a fantastic, life-enriching stage of your education. You will make friends and memories that will last a lifetime, and have the chance to learn in a world-leading education sector. Take all the opportunities that come your way, and enjoy the experience."

:: Students who are uncertain about their options can speak with an experienced careers adviser by contacting the Exam Results Helpline on 0808 100 8000.

The helpline can offer personal support, including advice about course choices, apprenticeship opportunities, volunteering, and employment.

Everything students need to navigate Clearing and make the right choices about their next steps is on the UCAS website – – and advisers are ready to help on Twitter – @ucas_online.

A quick look at the figures

The number of students accepted on A level results day is down 2% compared to 2016, but is the second highest number recorded. This decrease is driven by a fall in acceptances from older students, and fewer students from the European Union.

The number of UK 18 year olds gaining a place is 201,270, a similar level to last year, and the highest number recorded on A level results day.

The percentage of 18 year olds in the population securing a place in university and college in England is 27.5%, with the rate in Northern Ireland 28.3%, Scotland 24.9%, and Wales 24.8%.

A record number, 21,470, of UK 18 year olds from the least advantaged backgrounds have been placed. However, the most advantaged young people are still 2.4 times more likely to be accepted.

The number of EU students placed is 26,090, a fall of 3% compared to 2016, but still the second highest recorded, while the number of international students accepted has increased by 4% to 30,350.

Clare Marchant said: "The overall numbers of students being accepted onto courses is lower, but it is a complicated picture. We are seeing a growing proportion of 18 year olds going into higher education, and greater numbers of students from our most deprived communities are securing places.

"At the same time, we are seeing fewer older students taking places, and a fall in numbers from the EU. Higher education is still a hugely popular life choice, which has a transformational impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of people every year."