While we plan to run Confirmation and Clearing in a similar way to previous years, we will, as always, be looking to make enhancements wherever possible. Here’s a round-up of all things new for 2020.

Introducing Clearing Plus

For the first time, students who find themselves in Clearing can view a list of courses they've personally been matched to in Track – alongside our search tool, which contains over 30,000 course options. 

How will it work?

If your students find themselves unplaced, there are still plenty of universities and colleges looking for students just like them. Clearing Plus means finding the right alternative has never been easier:

  1. If students find themselves in Clearing, there will be a new 'View matches' button in Track.
  2. Once they click this they can start browsing courses they've been matched to based on their application and the type of students universities and colleges have told us they're looking for. Student lists are dynamic and will update as their application updates – for example, when they get their grades, and depending on the spaces universities and colleges have remaining.  
  3. If they find a course they want to be considered for, they should click the 'I'm interested' button and their details will be passed to the relevant university/college.
  4. If the university or college still has places, they may reach out to discuss things further and make an offer.
  5. If your students receive an offer, they just need to add it as a Clearing choice in Track so their place can be confirmed.

Although Clearing Plus is designed to enhance the process of finding another place, it’s important unplaced students remain proactive – they can still also use our search tool to browse all official Clearing vacancies and contact universities and colleges directly to discuss options, as they usually would in Clearing.

Want to know more? Here are our five things you need to know.

Awarding of results

As you’ll know, the summer exam series hasn’t taken place and grades will be awarded differently. We’re closely monitoring the situation and have collated information on how the UK is intending to award results on our coronavirus hub.  

Although the process for awarding grades may be different, the admissions process to confirm your students’ places will remain broadly similar to previous years. We're expecting to receive the calculated results from many awarding bodies and we will process those in the normal way and pass them on to the universities and colleges to confirm places. 

EU and international students receiving calculated grades should follow the normal processes and confirm their results with their chosen universities and colleges. There is more information for international students on our coronavirus hub.

Embargo timings

JCQ has changed their 2020 results embargo timings – this is the period before A level results day, where early access to embargoed examination results is given. This allows universities and colleges to prepare and make decisions by the official publication dates of exam results. It also gives you, as teachers, advisers, and exam centres, time to plan for the publication dates. Results cannot be shared or discussed with applicants.

Instead of lifting at 06:00 (UK time), the JCQ results embargo has been extended until 08:00 (UK time) on A level results day, 13 August 2020.

Once the embargo has lifted at 08:00 (UK time) on A level results day, Thursday 13 August:

  • results can be shared with students and they’ll be able to access UCAS Track to check the status of their application
  • you and your colleagues will be able to access the adviser portal to see how your students have done
  • universities and colleges can start contacting applicants and are able to discuss an individual’s status with them

To see the full list of qualifications under embargo, take a look at JCQ’s website.

Self-release insights

Last year 28,000 applicants used the functionality to withdraw from their confirmed place and release themselves into Clearing – saving time and giving them direct control over their application.

The same functionality will be available again this year for all placed applicants – and we'll also be capturing the reasons students release in Track, to provide greater insight.

We’re currently looking into how, and if, we can make this information available to you – once we know more, we’ll let you know.

In case you need it, here’s a recap on how it works:

  • In Track, applicants click the ‘Decline my place’ button on their homepage.
  • They’re taken to a page which explains what they’re about to do, and a drop-down question which they must complete – this is where we’ll capture their reason for releasing – before confirming.
  • The applicant will then receive an email to confirm they’re in Clearing, and advising them to phone the university or college they declined if they’ve made a mistake.

As with last year, if applicants want to stay at the same university or college but swap the course they’re studying, they should contact the provider as they may be able to arrange the swap without declining their place.

Our partnership with BBC Bitesize

This year, students will be looking for information and advice online more than ever. Our exciting new partnership with BBC Bitesize means students will have access to enhanced information and advice in more places, as they continue their application journey outside school or college. We’ll let you know more about this in the coming weeks.

What to do about releasing Centre Assessed Grades (CAGs)?

By Kevin Gilmartin, the Association of School and College Leavers’ (ASCL’s) Post-16 Specialist

When schools and colleges were first told that they would have to submit predicted grades for their students this summer, we all assumed that this information would be confidential between the centre and the exam board. However, we now know that come results day, students will have the right to see their centre assessed grade (CAG) through a subject access data request (SAR). So, what to do? The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) has provided some guidance to its 20,000 members in schools and colleges on what the best approach might entail.

Perhaps the most important recommendation is for schools and colleges not to release CAGs at the same time as actual results. Delaying their release until the next day, or even the next week, gives students breathing time to reflect and perhaps realise that, even if their grades are less than what was predicted, they may well be good enough to progress to university or to whatever their next step might be. The sense of panic, perhaps even anger, that students and their family may feel (probably unjustified in most cases) may subside. The phone lines and servers of schools, colleges and universities’ admissions services may be spared a system overload. It is not a perfect solution as we well know, but it may be the best way for many centres to deal with this difficult situation. For schools and colleges that might feel somewhat exposed – perhaps the ASCL guidance can at least provide a bit of temporary shelter.