Posted Wednesday 18 August 2010
Calls have been flooding in to Kingston University's Clearing call centre as A-Level students who didn't quite get the grades they need to take up their first choice university places endeavour to keep their higher education dreams alive. By the end of the first day of Clearing there had been more than 74,000 attempts to call the University's Clearing and Confirmation hotline, which opened at 8.30am.
At Kingston's Clearing headquarters 55 specially trained hotline operators are assisting prospective recruits who narrowly missed out on their predicted grades to find a route onto a suitable degree course. Kingston University's Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Martyn Jones is not surprised the match-making service has been inundated with calls from hopeful students. "The first few hours of Clearing are always the busiest for us," he said. "Our hotline will continue taking calls from young people hoping to snap up the last few remaining places at Kingston until all our vacancies are filled, but there's high demand so students will need to be quick to have a chance of getting on to a course."
The operators will be transferring callers who meet the requirements for the University's course vacancies to academic staff to see if they can be paired up with unfilled places. Third year engineering student Fraser Robinson is one of Kingston University's Clearing hotline supervisors. He is looking after a team of eight operators, making sure they are able to offer swift assistance to those hoping to secure a spot on a degree course. "People who call the hotline are often a bit worried as they haven't got on to their first or second choice courses and they don't know if they're going to get to university," he said. "Chatting to the caller and putting them at ease is one of the most important tasks for a hotline operator. We want callers to feel confident that we'll do what we can to help them find their way through Clearing, which can seem really confusing if you're in a bit of a state."
Fraser has seen first-hand how tricky it can be to navigate Clearing. "I saw my friend go through Clearing three times in consecutive years until he got a place on a course he was happy with, so I've got a pretty good understanding of what the process involves," he said. "When I came to Kingston I decided to put that knowledge to good use and signed up to be a Clearing hotline operator. That was two years ago, and now I'm a supervisor so I'll be helping operators deal with any tricky inquiries and making sure they're able to give callers the best advice possible."
Kingston University's Clearing hotline will be open between 8.30am and 6.30pm on Thursday 19 and Friday 20 August, and from 9am to 5.30pm the following week. With places limited, Professor Martyn Jones urged students to call a soon as possible.