What is Clearing Plus and how can your students make use of it?

Following on from last year’s ‘self-release’ function, UCAS have released a new feature called Clearing Plus which will be available from early July until the end of August.

What is Clearing Plus?

Clearing Plus offers an easier alternative to the traditional Clearing process which typically offers 35,000 courses per year.1 Students will be matched to courses and institutions based on their application, achievements and course interest. As a result, students will be able to browse (fewer) suitable courses.

Using UCAS Track, students can register their interest for certain courses and their details will be passed on to the university or college. The university can then contact the student directly to discuss the course details and they may then make the student an offer. Once an offer has been made, students can add it as a Clearing choice and they will then need to wait for their place to be confirmed.

This is not to say that the traditional Clearing process has been replaced. Applicants can still view a list of courses using the search tool on the UCAS website and they can contact universities directly to discuss their vacancies and to see if they can be offered a place. However, UCAS are offering a more streamlined process which gives the students more control and drives their efforts to provide a personalised and efficient service.

Who can use Clearing Plus?

Clearing Plus is available for:

> unplaced students (those who didn’t receive any offers, declined their offers or self-released into clearing)
> those who applied too late to be considered
> those who have exceeded their predicted grades

If students exceed the required grades, Clearing Plus will suggest alternative courses with higher entry requirements. It’s also possible for students to decline their place if they have previously accepted an unconditional offer. These students will still be able to use Clearing Plus to view their matches and choose an alternative course or university/college.

How will this help disadvantaged learners?

Admissions teams at various universities are able to provide UCAS with a list of available courses as well as the grade requirements for each course. This will prevent students being matched to courses that they do not have the grades for. At the same time, ‘providers [can] define the students they want to reach, including targeting by measures of disadvantage’.2 By setting their own acceptance criteria, universities will be able to choose certain measures, such as POLAR or ACORN data (and the Scottish/Welsh equivalents) to ‘effectively reach underrepresented applicants, helping them to achieve a diverse student population’.3

The data behind the ‘matches’, also referred to as the ‘algorithm’, takes into account mixed qualifications for students who have studied a range of both A level subjects and BTEC qualifications. This should make it easier for students to see which courses they can choose and which universities accept their combination of qualifications.

If you are interested in hearing more about how each applicant is given a ‘match score’, based on their attainment, course choices and previous application and acceptance data, you can find further details here.4

It’s important to remember that although Clearing Plus simplifies the Clearing process and offers digital support in a time when in-person support is challenging, other factors and preferences are considered when students make their university choices and these should not be overlooked in the stress of results day. If students would prefer to speak to the university itself to confirm details or to discuss course details, they should still be advised to do so.


1. https://wonkhe.com/blogs/clearing-plus-transforming-admissions-experiences

2. Ibid.

3. https://wonkhe.com/blogs/the-data-science-behind-clearing-plus/

4. Ibid.


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