Life could have turned out very differently for Kingston University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Martyn Jones. If he hadn’t taken up a university place through Clearing many years ago, he might not have gone on to excel in academia, head up prestigious management schools or become a key member of Kingston’s senior management running the External Affairs department. Now Professor Jones is urging students awaiting their A-level results to plan ahead and be ready to call university Clearing hotlines should their grades not quite go their way this Thursday (20 August).
“I know how it feels to not quite get the grades you have been expecting,” Professor Jones said. “It’s tempting to feel down-hearted and wish things had turned out differently but you have to turn the corner and move on. The important thing is how you react to this news. The actions you take on results day can make a real difference to your future. If I hadn’t made the call – I wouldn’t be where I am now.”
Rather than feeling sorry for yourself, Professor Jones advises taking the time before results day to think about how you will handle the news if you miss out on your first choice university place. “It’s good when everything works out as you’ve planned but life isn’t always like that,” he said. “You need to have a plan B. I’d advise doing some research ahead of results day. Look at some university websites to see what else is out there and where you might like to go if you don’t secure the grades to take up your first university choice. Make a note of the Clearing hotline for these universities and store numbers in your mobile phone so you are ready to hit the phone lines early and maximise your chance of securing those few remaining places.”
At Kingston University, a team of specially-trained academic staff and student volunteers are expecting to take more than 8,000 phone calls from students hoping to grab the last few places on courses for autumn 2009. The University has also agreed to accept an additional 329 students to study engineering, technology and business subjects from the Government to help in the current recession and these places will also be up for grabs during Clearing.
On A-level results day, official course vacancies lists will be published on the Independent and University and College Admissions Service (UCAS) websites. UCAS applicants should visit the Track page and those without a university place will automatically find a Clearing button has appeared. This will guide them through the steps they need to take and provide them with a Clearing number electronically which they will need to give to universities. Students who have applied to Kingston will also receive text messages telling them whether they have been successful in securing a place, whether the University is still waiting for other information such as GCSE or BTEC results or whether they need to enter Clearing.
“We are rolling out this system for the first time this year as we know students can be contacted quickly by mobile phone,” Professor Jones said. “Students who have been successful will get a congratulatory text and won’t need to do anything. Others who may have just missed out on their grades will be advised to give us a call so we can see whether we are able to help them get a place on a slightly different course with lower entry points or offer them a HND with one of our partner colleges in south West London.”
Students who had a conditional offer from a university but found on results day they had just missed out on the right marks needed to ring that university first to see if there was still a place for them, Professor Jones said. If they were unable to help, they would need to hit the Clearing hotlines as quickly as possible.
“Clearing is a bit like a degree course sale where students with the right entry points can snap up vacant places,” he said. “But, as in any sale, the earlier you shop the better the choice. Ideally, students should have already considered their subject strengths and have their A-level and GCSE results to hand when they call their chosen university. It’s also a good idea to prepare a list of questions about the course and the institution and remember we can only offer places to students themselves, not their parents or friends.” Callers to Kingston’s Clearing hotline could be sure of a sympathetic ear and help if did not quite meet Kingston’s course criteria. There are more places for science, technology and some business courses this year as the main focus has been on adding value to the economy in the long term, but there are other courses available too. Alongside our full degree programmes, Kingston also runs HNDs with partner colleges in South West London.
This year prospective students will also be to take part in Adjustment which is new for 2009. At Kingston University prospective students can call our Adjustment hotline for advice from 8.30am on A-level results day. “If you get results which are higher than the offer you have received from a university you have the chance to turn down your first and second choice university places and opt for another university or course which requires higher grades,” Professor Jones explained. Students who do decide to go through adjustment will need to have paid UCAS the full £17.00 fee. Professor Jones advised students to think about all factors involved in choosing a university as well as entry points, such as location and teaching style. If students did decide to take the plunge they needed be prepared for a busy month, he said.