Clearing 2020 guide for universities

What will students do in Clearing and on Results Day?

We think that Clearing will be bigger this year. Since lockdown began, we've been gathering the most valuable data, insights and student trends to share with you (data collected between 23rd March - 2nd August). If you would like more information, access to Clearing discounts, or support with your campaign, please reach out.

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Why we think Clearing will be bigger this year 

By tracking the activity of millions of student users on our site, we can identify trends and shifts in applicant behaviour. Here is a snapshot of activity in lockdown:

Scale of The Student Room's audience:

Total unique users - 25,444,425; Total pageviews - 80,025,060

Engagement on TSR:

Total posts - 1,102,458 (+10% v 2019); Total Official Rep posts - 13,912 (+56% v 2019)

Sources: The Student Room onsite data (date range: 23 March - 2 August 2020)

Why are 2020 applicants entering Clearing?

Clearing courses and changing subject choices

Three in ten applicants entered Clearing because they had changed their mind about the subject or university they had originally selected.

Sources: The Student Room's post-Clearing and Freshers survey 2019

Which subjects will be popular in Clearing? 

We compared activity (pageviews) on The Student Room's most popular subject forums against the same period in 2019 and discovered significant trends in subject interest, primarily we're seeing growth around health, STEM and creative degree courses:

Sources: Navigating Changing Options, HE Sector Market Research Report, Wave 1 (May 2020 data), The Student Room Group; The Student Room data ( 23 March - 2 August 2020 v 2019)

"Didn’t want to go to my insurance uni, so I thought I'd see if I could get a place closer to home."
User, The Student Room

Will students defer their places at university?

In May, we asked students what they would do if they missed the grades needed for their firm choice university - almost two fifths said they would take Autumn exams, while around one in five said they would defer.

What will you do if you aren't awarded the grades for your first (firm) choice university? (May data)

try to get a place at my firm choice in clearing
Sit my exams in the autumn
Go to my insurance university
Defer until the following year
Not go to university at all
n/a - i have an unconditional offer from my firm choice

Source: Navigating Changing Options, HE Sector Market Research Report, Wave 1 (May 2020 data)

"If I get a place through Adjustment, can I then ask for a deferred entry?"
User, The Student Room

Covid cancels Gap Year plans: for some university applicants, starting in 2020 feels like their only option

Gap Years would usually offer an exciting opportunity for applicants to travel and gain work and life experience before starting university, but concerns about covid restrictions are limiting choices for many.

It's impossible to plan an eight-month travel itinerary when no-one knows what the travel restrictions will be. Similarly, the global economy and job market has been hit by the crisis, making the possibility of internships and work experience far less certain.

"Isn’t clearing for people who don’t meet the requirements for their chosen universities?"
User, The Student Room

Will students take exams to try to improve their grades?

A completely new and unique way of awarding grades this year adds a whole new measure of uncertainty and confusion to an already nerve-wracking time for students. So we've been polling students on a regular basis to find out what they plan to do if they are disappointed with their exam results.

Back in March, we polled our student community and uncovered that 61% of respondents felt predicted exam grades would be unfair.

With so much uncertainty around grading outcomes, we were curious about what students would do if they missed their grades.

Source: The Student Room Polls

62% of respondents we polled said they would take exams if they missed their required grades:

Take Autumn exams
Take exams next Summer

The 38% of respondents who did not plan to take exams, gave these reasons:

Change university choice through clearing
Apply to university next year
I'm not applying to university

Source: The Student Room Polls

Will university applicants be starting university in 2020?

Most UK universities have reported that they will be opening campuses to students this Autumn (with appropriate safety measures in place). UCAS recently announced that deferrals were down 1% vs 2019, and our poll reaffirms that most applicants want to start their university experience on campus in 2020.

What will you do if you aren't awarded the grades for your first (firm) choice university?** (June data)

Start university in September/October with social distancing
Defer, delay or study from home

Source: Navigating Changing Options, HE Sector Market Research Report, Wave 2 (June 2020 data), The Student Room Group

Some applicants are starting university this year due to concerns that next year will be more competitive

We're seeing lots of posts from students who are undecided about their courses, or who simply don't feel ready for university, who are making the decision to attend in 2020 because they don't want to risk losing their place next year.

Helping students through Results Day and Clearing 2020 - what to say

The top concern for most students is whether they will get the grades they need and deserve. Not everyone will be celebrating when they get their A Level results, so make sure students are aware of what to do next. Ensure students know what courses are available with you and, where possible, be transparent about the grades they'll need to be accepted by your university.

How my grades are decided
What is happening with Autumn exams?
What I can/can't appeal: predicted grades
How Results Day will work
How to make the best choices in Clearing
Is deferring my place right for me?
Process of Clearing: How it works
Accessing teachers/advisors on results day

Source: The Student Room Polls

If you have any questions about Clearing or Results Day we'd love to help you.

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