Shona McQuillan is a senior adviser and manager of the Course Enquiries Team at Birmingham City University. Shona has experience of over 16 years in Higher Education and has advised thousands of prospective students about course options and applying to university.

What is Clearing?

Clearing is the process by which prospective students who have not secured a place on an undergraduate course or a PGCE can apply for unfilled vacancies on courses at higher education institutions.

How do you apply to enter Clearing?

If you have already applied through UCAS, you may be entered into Clearing if you:

a)    Have not met the conditions of any offers you accepted; or

b)    Did not receive any offers from universities and colleges you applied to; or

c)    Made your application after 30 June.

If you have not applied through UCAS, you can still approach universities and ask to be considered for course vacancies available in Clearing and they will be able to advise you about how you can be registered with UCAS if they wish to offer you a place and you want to accept it.

If you are applying for a part-time course, you can normally apply directly to the University (with the exception of part-time PGCE courses where applications are made through UCAS).

Check course vacancies

The Clearing section of the UCAS website lists full-time undergraduate vacancies and full-time and part-time PGCE courses. Find out which courses are available in Clearing by checking the vacancy listings on the UCAS website. For information about vacancies on part-time undergraduate courses, you should contact universities directly to enquire about availability of places.


When you call be prepared – you might suddenly find yourself in a telephone interview with an admissions tutor. Make sure you have all your grades to hand so that you can confirm them if necessary. If you have some questions ready, you’ll feel more confident and have the chance to impress the admissions tutor by demonstrating that you’ve thought about what you want to study.

Pick up the phone

Contact the universities’ clearing helplines. Lines at Birmingham City University are open from 8am until 8pm on Thursday 14 August and you can call us on 0121 331 6777. If you already have your exam results, you can call our Course Enquiries Team from early July to see if places are available by telephoning 0121 331 5595.

Weigh it all up

Your decision could determine what you will be doing in the near future and possibly beyond – so it’s important you make the choice that’s right for you.

There’s every chance that you’ll find a course to suit you, but don’t rush to accept the first place you are offered if you’re unsure about it. Think things through and talk to someone if it helps. For advice about courses offered at Birmingham City University, contact our friendly course advisers on 0121 331 5595.

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Shona McQuillan

Senior adviser and manager of the Course Enquiries Team at Birmingham City University.

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