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University admissions and clearing: what to expect this year

Daniel Wake

Daniel Wake

Policy Analyst
Universities UK

Thursday 16 August 2018 is A-Level results day, the day when most students will find out if they have a place at their chosen university.

Students that do not achieve their university entry requirements will still be able to apply for courses through UCAS Clearing.

What happened last year?

In 2017, 533,890 students were accepted into higher education. While this was a slight fall on 2016 (0.2%), the proportion of 18-year-olds in the UK population who gained a place was a record 32.6%. This was despite a fall of 1.2% in the 18-year-old population in the UK in 2017.

There were also record numbers of applicants accepted through Clearing (66,865 students). The majority of Clearing acceptances (around 75% in 2017) came from those that applied through the main scheme. The speed of the Clearing process is such that more than 7,000 students were placed this way on A-level results day.



Who applied this year?

 Saturday 30 June 2018 was the final deadline for applying to up to five universities or colleges simultaneously. At that stage, there were 636,960 people who applied in the current application cycle. While this number is down 2% on 2017, this is in part due to falls in the number of 18-year-old UK population – a key cohort of university applicants. It is also encouraging that in England, a record 38.1% of the 18-year-old population have applied.

The number of international student applications and acceptances are likely to be a continued media focus, but it is worth noting that nearly half of international students study at postgraduate level, while around 60% that do study at undergraduate level are accepted via the UCAS route. With this in mind, there was record number of applicants from outside the EU (75,380).

Additionally, it was encouraging that the number of EU applicants increased 2% on 2017 to 50,130.


Source: UCAS (2018) June deadline analysis: Overview.

What happens next?

Students in Scotland will already know their results. Other students will have already met their entry requirements; 7.1% of offers made to 18-year-old students from England, Northern Ireland and Wales were unconditional. Students with these offers will still want to achieve their best A-Level results to maximise their career opportunities.

In the main however, students who applied to university via UCAS will be faced with three scenarios on A-Level results day. They will either:

  • Get a place on their firm or insurance choice; or
  • Be offered a 'changed course offer' by the university or college; or
  • Not get offered a place but be able to apply through UCAS Clearing to see what courses still have vacancies.

The UCAS Clearing hub is the official place to find all the courses with places available through Clearing. UCAS provides some helpful information on the results, confirmation and clearing process. University admissions staff will also be working behind the scenes to ensure that applicants get the best service possible, utilising sector best practice and principles.

How can we keep track of admissions and acceptances?

Following A-Level results day, Universities UK will be providing daily website updates on the latest numbers of applicants and the numbers who received university places. These updates will be based on UCAS' daily Clearing analysis statistical releases. The remaining key dates of the 2018 application can also be found on UCAS' website.

Good luck!

We would like to wish students the best of luck ahead of results day and we hope that the final stages of the application process go as smoothly as possible.



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