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Let's clear up the clearing myths

Research from London South Bank University reveals major differences between young people's perceptions of and the reality

Posted by Hannah Oakman | August 16, 2016 | People, policy, politics

Only a half of the recent undergraduates who applied through Clearing said they did so because they missed the grades required for their first choice course. This quashes the overwhelming view expressed by over three quarters, 77%, of Year 13 school students who cited this as the reason they thought they might apply though Clearing.

Clearing is now about much more than missed grades and it’s high time that the tired and outdated myths so often associated with Clearing are laid to rest

Other reasons that students applied through Clearing included switching from another course, 13%; declining all university offers, 12%; not receiving any offers, 12%; and switching from another university, 11%.

“Our research shows that Clearing is now about much more than missed grades and it’s high time that the tired and outdated myths so often associated with Clearing are laid to rest,” said Ian Mehrtens, Chief Operating Officer at LSBU.

“Students now apply through Clearing for a whole raft of different reasons – many not even associated with exam results at all.”

The undergraduate experience contrasts sharply with perceptions of Clearing amongst Year 13s with well over a third of those surveyed perceiving a lack of offers as a reason to apply, while a quarter said it was due to switching from another course or simply put it down to a last minute decision to go to university.

Rather worryingly, almost a third, 31%, of Year 13s perceived missing the UCAS deadline as a reason to enter the Clearing process.

Considering whether students are disadvantaged by applying through Clearing, the proportion of recent LSBU graduates achieving 2:1 degree classification or above is three percentage points higher than those who did not enter the university through Clearing: 64% compared to 61%.

And looking at employment prospects, it would seem that there is little or no difference between those who applied through Clearing and those who did not; 70% of recent LSBU graduates who applied through Clearing are in employment or further study six months following graduation; compared to 69% of LSBU graduates who did not apply through Clearing – a one percentage point difference in favour of Clearing applicants.

Ian Mehrtens continued: “Our research confirms that applicants who apply through Clearing are not disadvantaged in their studies or career development which completely undermines the tired and negative associations so often directed at Clearing.

“With greater social mobility, diversity and numbers of people in Higher Education, routes to university inevitably become more varied. Many applicants are further removed from the UCAS timetable than perhaps A levels students who are guided through the applications process by their schools.

“The research does suggest though that many Year 13s and their schools need to pay greater attention to the UCAS deadline. A third perceiving the deadline may be missed is not a good sign!”

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