Posted Thursday 14 August 2014
Calls have been pouring in to Kingston University's confirmation, Clearing and adjustment hotline since it sprang into action. More than 120 specially-trained hotline operators, along with a similar sized team of academic staff, have been hard at work talking to students either eagerly confirming their offers of a place at the university in south west London or keen to clinch one of the few remaining spots on its degree courses.
By the end of A-level results day on 14 August, more than 11,000 attempts had been made to call the hotline, with admissions tutors reporting that this year's hopeful applicants were generally of a very high calibre. Many Clearing callers had only narrowly missed out on their predicted A-level grades, meaning that they were unable to secure a place at their first choice university. Others had done better than expected or were seeking a last-minute change of subject before enrolling for university next month.
Deputy Director of Student Administration Dr Andy Homer, who is overseeing activity at Kingston University's hotline headquarters, expected the volume of calls to remain high as students who had received their results assessed their options. "The first few hours on results day are always the busiest for us as students rush to their schools and further education colleges to pick up results," he said. "Our operators are all handpicked and committed to ensuring that everyone who contacts the hotline has the opportunity to really explore the choices available to them. Many of them are even students themselves, so they understand just how nerve-racking A-level results day can be."
Callers entering the Clearing process would have an initial conversation with a hotline operator and provide details of their A-level results, Dr Homer explained. If their grades met course requirements, they would then be put in touch with an academic to see whether they could be matched with an unfilled place. "Our hotline operators will continue taking calls from degree hopefuls until all our vacancies are filled, but there will be heavy demand so students need to be quick off the mark to have a chance of getting a place on the course they're most interested in," he cautioned.
Dr Homer advised students coming through Clearing to research courses before they made their calls. "It's vital that they know the differences between similar subject areas and are ready with reasons why they want to go to a particular university," he added.
Last year Clearing provided 19-year-old BSc Civil Engineering student Renisha Robin, from Chatham in Kent, with the chance to reconsider her academic interests when she didn't quite reach the A-level grades she had expected. "Although I was accepted into my second choice institution to study pharmacology, I made the decision to decline that offer to pursue a degree I was genuinely interested in," Renisha, who has just completed her first year at Kingston University, explained. "Maths had been my favourite subject at A-level and I've always had an interest in building things, so I felt civil engineering would be the ideal course for me."
Renisha is eager to reassure students who might need to use the Clearing process this year that it is not as daunting as it might seem. "There is no shame in finding a place through Clearing. It's simply another route into university - it's still competitive and you still have to prove that you're worthy of a spot on your chosen course."
Huw Harris, who studies history and politics at Kingston, also took the opportunity Clearing provided to move on to higher education. "I wasn't expecting to do as well in my A-levels as I did," Huw explained. "So, when I received my grades, I quickly made the decision to make the most of the flexibility Clearing offered to get my perfect place. I'm really enjoying university now and I'm so glad I thought carefully about my future and the importance of making the right decision."