Once previously associated with students who’d missed out on their first and second choice universities (and were frantically searching for a place elsewhere), the perception of modern-day Clearing is changing – giving students the power to change their course, depending on their results and feelings about upcoming university life.
In 2018, a record number of undergraduates (17,520) only applied to university once they’d nervously torn open their envelopes, bringing the total number of students who secured their university place using Clearing to 66,770 – over 12% of all applicants, according to UCAS. And, with Clearing acceptances almost doubling in less than a decade, it’s a trend that’s expected to rise, as it gives undergraduates opportunities to find the right university for them, based on their actual results and needs.
With the current student generation having more online access to information than ever before, UCAS also reported that 54% of placed students had also researched other options ahead of results day in August, suggesting that Clearing is no longer considered a ‘back up plan’ but a bonafide way of ensuring that they’re finding their best fit. Of course, becoming an undergraduate is not only about the degree which they choose to study – it’s about where too, with 36% of students who switched establishments, last year, citing location as a main factor, wishing to be closer to home. This plays into the anxieties that prospective students experience as the time to attend university draws closer. The realisation of what leaving home means starts to really impact students once they finish their exams and this can impact the decision to switch to another HE institution.
One organisation which welcomes the change in attitudes to Clearing is the British & Irish Modern Music Institute (BIMM), which last year saw 11% of its students choose to study at one of its eight independent colleges in London, Brighton, Bristol, Dublin, Birmingham, Manchester, Berlin and Hamburg, during Clearing – an increase of 58% from the previous year.
“Clearing has totally changed throughout my career in Higher Education,” BIMM non-executive director Professor Mark Hunt, who has over 30 years’ experience working in HE leadership and management roles, says. “It’s no longer about students scrambling for those last minute places, instead it gives them an opportunity to think about what they would like to do next and ensure that they’re enrolled on the right course for them – whether they’ve done not as well or even better than expected, there are now so many options.”
At BIMM – Europe’s leading and largest music college, which provides its students with industry-led degrees and diplomas – Clearing is one of the busiest times of the year, as it guides potential students through courses, career paths and what they can expect from uni life in their chosen city. To help ease the pressure of making that all-important decision, the HE establishment provides a Priority Clearing service, including giving those who use the service a personal Priority Clearing Advisor to offer guidance and a direct contact to discuss options with, come results day.
Lisa ten Bulte, a BA Hons Songwriting student at BIMM’s Brighton campus has been through the Clearing experience first-hand and found it to have been invaluable – especially as she was moving hundreds of miles away from home: “I visited BIMM’s open day last summer and had originally planned to wait a year and figure things out in my own time, as I am from The Netherlands and had to lots to sort out with moving countries. But, then in July I phoned BIMM to ask something finance-related, and was told that I could still apply for the upcoming year. I sat down with my parents and they fully supported me, so I figured everything out in under a month and came here! It was quite quick and easy, and I had such a positive experience. I’d say to students who may be in a similar position: don’t be nervous about applying late, because you have nothing to lose!”
“Whether a student has excelled and is now in a position to consider other courses or has just missed out on their first choice, or perhaps is just having second thoughts about the uni they’ve chosen, I’d tell them to talk to institutions like BIMM to chat through their options,” Professor Hunt adds. “There’s nothing worse than sitting at home worrying, there’s still plenty of time to find the right course and establishment. With Clearing, students have more control in their choice than ever before.”
Clearing is now open at BIMM (The British & Irish Modern Music Institute), find out more here.
The British & Irish Modern Music Institute is Europe’s leading and largest music college, with independent colleges, providing industry-led degrees and diplomas to 6,000 students in colleges around the UK and Germany. Past alumni include James Bay, George Ezra and Tom Odell.