Posted Thursday 13 July 2017
With A-level results winging their way to students on Thursday, Kingston University is urging students to plan ahead in the remaining few days in case they don't quite achieve the exam grades they expect.
Director of Admissions Dr Andy Homer, who oversees Kingston University's annual confirmation and Clearing operation, recommends students research their choices carefully ahead of 17 August. "Thinking through some contingency options will put students in a much stronger position if things haven't gone quite the way they had hoped, or they've just had a change of heart regarding their course choice," he explained. "Being organised before A-level results day will also alleviate some of the anxiety and pressure they might feel when they receive their exam grades."
The University is expecting calls from thousands of students eager to secure one of the remaining degree course places when its Clearing hotline opens at 7.30am on results day. Figures released by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) show that a record 52,110 students found university places through Clearing last year. To make the process as smooth as possible at Kingston University, 200 helpful hotline staff will be on hand to assist callers.
Dr Homer's advice for the day itself is to be on the ball. "Last year our Clearing hotline received 6,000 calls by lunchtime on results day, so students should be poised to spring in to action to make that call telling us what they're interested in and the qualifications they have," he said.
An added bonus for those applying to Kingston University through Clearing this year is the chance of an offer of accommodation. The University is guaranteeing a place in halls for any callers who accept a course place on 17 or 18 August. "Finding somewhere to live is often one of the most pressing concerns when looking for a place in Clearing, so we hope to take that part of the stress away from students when they're making their decisions," Dr Homer said. "The University has a range of rooms available in its halls of residence at varying prices. All are on, or close to, our campuses and are well-connected to Kingston town centre."
During the past couple of years, the University had received an increasing number of calls from a wide range of prospective candidates, beyond just those who had missed out on their target grades, Dr Homer added. "We are hearing from students who didn't apply for their course through the traditional UCAS route," he said. "We're also being contacted by those who have changed their minds about their original UCAS choices – including students who have achieved better grades than predicted and want to rethink their options."
Admissions tutor Dr Pedro Barra, course director for Kingston University's nutrition degree programme, has many years' experience of the Clearing process. On results day he will be taking calls from applicants, finding out more about them and checking that they meet the requirements for their chosen course.
He agreed with Dr Homer that advance web research and making sure university phone numbers were programmed in to mobiles was the key to success. "Students don't want to be wading through websites in a frantic rush on results day and desperately calling universities randomly without very much thought," he warned. "If you receive different grades to those you expected, firstly think about the universities you originally applied to as you will have already done some research on them. Keep your shortlisted universities' details handy and be set to call them in preference order."
Dr Barra also reminded students to be ready to answer questions when they got through to a helpline operator. "If I ask you why you want to do this degree, don't just say it's because you like the subject," he said. "There must be particular reasons why you went for it, so have those in mind to discuss. When I speak to hopeful applicants I will be asking them about their plans and what they are looking to do at the end of the course."
As well as responding to questions, Dr Barra recommended that students were also prepared to put their own queries to course representatives. "When you call you should ask for relevant information about the degree and university you are approaching," he advised. "You may be lucky enough to receive more than one offer, so to help you make that decision you will need to know what distinguishes each institution and what they particularly have to offer you." Finally, Dr Barra's advice was to be persistent. "Remember that if you keep on trying, you will get through as universities have substantial Clearing operations in place," he said. "It's the tenacious students who snap up those final places, especially on popular courses."
Course vacancy lists will be published on the UCAS website and in the Daily Telegraph newspaper on results day. Students applying through UCAS will be able to check their application status on the Track page. Kingston University's Clearing hotline will open from 7.30am on 17 August and trained staff will help match callers to the remaining places for courses starting this autumn. Callers who fulfill the minimum grade requirements for available courses will be transferred to academic staff to discuss their options.