The direct contact service (DCS) is a UCAS service that allows higher education providers (HEPs) to contact students during Clearing, who may be suitable for the courses for which they have vacancies.

DCS allows HEPs to reach markets they may not have previously known of, and similarly allows applicants to broaden their view of potential destinations.

How does DCS work?

DCS involves sharing (with permission) selected contact and application details of applicants who are eligible for Clearing, with HEPs that have vacancies on courses that may be of interest.

HEPs are asked to fill in the details of the courses they wish to recruit to, then eligible applicants are matched to those courses using a similarity algorithm.

Once the list of similar applicants has been shared, the HEP can begin contacting them, rather than waiting for a phone call. This enables HEPs to manage their Clearing recruitment in a much more proactive way.

As well as contact details, HEPs will receive information about previous applications, qualifications, similarity scores, and the personal statement, giving them ample information with which to make choices on who to contact.


A matching algorithm selects signed up applicants (including international applicants, if required) who are suitable for certain courses, before allocating them out fairly between the relevant providers.

This algorithm looks at several key applicant characteristics, including:

  • the choices they’ve previously made
  • the qualification subjects they're taking
  • the types of qualifications being studied
  • the general academic ability of the applicant

The algorithm combines these together, and looks at how each applicant compares to historically accepted applicants for given courses.

Where an applicant matches with a course, they may be allocated to a provider – the provider is subsequently sent their details.

Providers are given a set of matching options and filters, allowing them to tailor their orders as needed. These include:

  • the precision of their matches (i.e. fewer but more quality matches, or more applicants less precisely matched)
  • priorities for different subjects
  • previous applications to the provider
  • the ability to match to similar providers

HEPs also have the opportunity to select applicants who it is believed will select an offer in their region, or applicants living at home.


A HEP using the DCS would pay a £500 sign up fee, then £300 per placed applicant. The sign up fee can be claimed back by HEPs from their applicant charge. Discounts are available on this based on our terms and conditions.

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