Posted Sunday 15 August 2010
Students hoping to secure a university place through Clearing will need to be especially quick off the mark this year, according to a Kingston University Professor, after unprecedented demand for places during 2010.
With applications at an all time high as many teenagers opt to increase their qualifications rather than attempt to enter the shrinking job market, and places limited as institutions adjust to recent budget cuts, competition amongst prospective students has been fierce. But Kingston University's Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Martyn Jones believes a few simple steps ahead of A-Level results day can help young people who don't get their predicted grades increase their chances of landing a place in the lecture theatre.
"It can be disappointing if you miss out on your first choice university, but if you've done a bit of preparation Clearing can open up a range of possibilities," Professor Jones said. "Students should be ready to hit the Clearing hotlines immediately if grades don't go their way."
According to Professor Jones speed is of the essence when it comes to clinching a place through Clearing: "It could be the most important call you'll ever make, so it's worth taking some time to do some research." Professor Jones urged students to look into alternative universities before they received their exam results to get an idea of where else they might like to go. "Visit university websites and see if you like the look of what they offer," he said. "Make a note of Clearing hotline numbers for places you're keen on and programme them into your mobile. It's also important to remember you must make the call to the hotline yourself, it's no good asking your parents or friends to call instead."
As exam-result envelopes are ripped open across England and Wales, 55 specially trained student volunteers will be gearing up to answer calls to Kingston University's Clearing phone lines which open at 8.30am on 19 August. Hotline helpers will be on hand to offer friendly assistance to higher-education hopefuls, matching them up with the last few remaining places on courses starting in September. Callers with the grades needed to fill the vacancies will be transferred to academic staff to find out more about what's on offer. Last year there were more than 25,000 calls to the University's hotline on its opening day and during the following weeks volunteers helped 1,000 students find a way to fulfill their degree-course dreams.
As A-Level results are released on 19 August official course vacancy lists will be published in The Independent and on the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) website. Students applying through UCAS will be able to check the status of their application on the Track page.
Those without a place will see a Clearing button has appeared to guide them through the steps to take to access their electronic Clearing number. This needs to be given to universities when calling the Clearing phone lines.
After a successful pilot last year, young people who have applied to Kingston University will once again receive a text message to let them know whether they have successfully secured a place, whether the University is still waiting for more information such as GCSE or BTEC results, or whether they need to enter Clearing. Students whose grades are just off the mark will be advised by text to call the University to see if they are able to help them secure a place on a similar course with lower entry points.
"For students who get slightly lower grades than expected there could still be hope of securing a place at their first choice university," Professor Jones said. He advised those who had a conditional offer and discovered on results day that they'd just missed out on the grades, to call their first choice university immediately. "Sometimes students can find they're still able to get a place at their chosen institution, either on the course they applied for or an alternative. If not, it's time to dial those Clearing numbers as soon as possible."
Students are advised to make sure they have their A-Level and GCSE results to hand when they call the Clearing hotlines. It was also a good idea to make a list of questions to ask about the course, and about the university and its surroundings, Professor Jones suggested.
Those who get better grades than expected will have the chance to take part in Adjustment which allows students to reconsider what and where they want to study without losing the option of their original firm choice. Young people who decide to go through Adjustment will need to have paid the full £19.00 fee to UCAS and will be able to call the University's admissions hotline from 8.30am on 19 August. If they don't find a suitable place elsewhere, they'll remain accepted at their original choice. Professor Jones advised students to weigh up all factors involved in choosing a university - such as teaching style and location - as well as entry points before deciding to embark on Adjustment.