UK University Clearing: A Step-by-Step Guide for International Students

Applying to a university in the United Kingdom (“UK”) can be an exciting yet daunting process, especially for international students. While many students secure their spots through the established early application process, some find themselves exploring an option know as “clearing”.

Clearing is a unique opportunity that allows students to find available courses and institutions that match their qualifications, even if they missed out on their initial choices.

In this article, we will walk you through the process of applying for a UK university through clearing as an international student.

Step 1. Understanding the Clearing Process

Clearing is an alternative admissions route that becomes available from mid-July each year. It’s intended for students who haven’t received offers from their chosen universities or have not met the conditions of their offers.

As an international student, you can use Clearing in the same way as a UK student.

You can use Clearing if any of the following apply to you:

  • You’re applying after 30th June 2023
  • You don’t have an offer from a UK university or college
  • You didn’t meet the entry requirements of your conditional offer
  • You got the grades you needed, but want to change course

Step 2. Prepare Necessary Documents

Gather all the documents required for your application. This typically includes your academic transcripts, language proficiency test scores (e.g., IELTS), personal statement, and reference letters. Have electronic copies of these documents ready to submit when required.

Note: Most international students will need to apply for a student visa. Once applied for, the student visa normally takes 3 weeks to process but times can vary depending on which country you are applying in and the visa service you choose. You should work closely with your chosen university once you have accepted their offer and you should apply for your visa as soon as you receive your CAS number (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies). Students who aren’t native English speakers may also need to complete an English language exam and provide the test certificates. (source: UCAS)

Step 3. Research Available Courses and Universities

Begin your clearing journey by researching universities and courses that still have available places. The UCAS Clearing website is a valuable resource where you can find a list of institutions and programs with vacancies. In addition, UCAS Clearing has a system, which based on information you provide, will match you to your top 50 courses.

Step 4. Contact University Admissions

Once you’ve identified potential universities and courses, it is time to get in touch with their admissions teams. Before you do this though it might be a good idea to prepare a list of questions about the course, entry requirements, application deadlines, and any other concerns you may have. Should should also be prepared to answer questions regarding your suitability for the university and course. Remember that this is your chance to make a positive first impression so ensure that you are polite and professional.

Step 5. Clearing Application

When you find a suitable course and university, submit your clearing application through UCAS. This online platform will guide you through the process, and you can submit applications to multiple universities simultaneously. Include your personal statement, relevant qualifications, and other requested information.

Step 6. Be Available and Responsive

After submitting your application, be prepared to receive calls or emails from universities. They might want to discuss your application further or even extend a verbal offer. Stay accessible and respond promptly to these communications to secure your place.

Step 7. Consider Your Options

Once you receive offers, take your time to carefully consider each option. Compare course content, university reputation, campus facilities, and any other factors that are important to you. This decision will impact your academic journey and overall experience, so make an informed choice.

Step 8. Accept an Offer

When you’ve made your decision, log in to UCAS and formally accept the offer from your chosen university. This step solidifies your place in the program, and you will receive further instructions on enrollment and registration.


University clearing offers international students an opportunity to pursue their higher education dreams in the UK. By researching available courses, communicating with admissions teams, and staying organized throughout the process, you can successfully secure a spot at a reputable UK university. Remember, clearing is a chance to embark on a new academic adventure, so approach it with an open mind and determination.