International students, including EU and other overseas students, can use Clearing in the same way UK students can.

What is Clearing?

Clearing allows you to apply for courses if you haven’t already received an offer, or if you want to change your mind about where or what you study.

Universities use Clearing to advertise any course vacancies, so you can browse and apply to courses that match your preferences.

Is Clearing for international students?

As an international student, you can use Clearing in the same way as a UK student.

You can use Clearing if any of the following apply to you:

  • You’re applying after 30 June.
  • You don’t have an offer from a UK university or college.
  • You didn’t meet the entry requirements of your conditional offer.
  • You got the grades you needed, but want to change course.

What’s different about Clearing for international students?

The Clearing process works the same on UCAS Hub for international students as it does for UK students, but there’s some differences around the documents you need and when you can start applying.

Extra documents or tests

Most international students will need to apply for a student visa. Once applied for, the student visa normally takes three weeks to process but times can vary depending on which country you are applying in and the visa service you choose. You should work closely with your chosen university once you have accepted their offer and you should apply for your visa as soon as you receive your CAS number (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies). Students who aren't native English speakers may also need to complete an English language exam and provide the test certificates.

Earlier exam results

Some students will receive their results much earlier than most UK students. For instance, those completing an International Baccalaureate (IB), will get their exams results on 6 July. This can allow you to find a place before the UK results days, giving you the chance to secure your place early.

Please note, some universities may not list all available clearing places until UK results day.

When does Clearing start and finish?
Clearing opens on 5 July, but you should start preparing for it as early as possible – don’t wait until Clearing opens to do your research and prepare your documents. Clearing closes on 21 October.


Universities will add new course vacancies continuously between the start of Clearing and 15 August, which is the final results day for UK students.

You can find a course you like and apply for it before 15 August, but remember that a lot of extra places will become available on 15 August.

It’s up to you whether to wait for more places to be added or apply to one you’ve already found.

Remember, you can get multiple informal offers over the phone before adding one to UCAS Hub – but you can only add one at a time.

How do I use Clearing?

1. Research vacancies

Doing research into different universities and courses you’re interested in is essential.

League tables (and subject tables) are a popular way to see how well-rated a university is for a particular subject or factor, such as graduate outcomes, but they’re only one source of information.

In-person or virtual open days, university websites, student reviews and services like UniBuddy are all great ways to get a feel for a uni.
Looking at the style of teaching and the modules included in a course is important – this could be very different to your home country, so you should make sure you find a curriculum you’ll enjoy.

2. Contact universities to discuss

During the Clearing window, you can phone, email or online chat with universities to ask about available places and discuss whether you could receive an unconditional offer.

Ahead of time, you should gather all the information you have around:

  • Your academic qualifications
  • Your English language ability and certificates
  • Your visa status

You can get multiple informal offers before making a final decision.

We recommend collecting the contact details for universities you’re interested in advance, so you can act quickly.

3. Enter your choice

Once you have at least one offer, and you’re certain about which course you want to add as a Clearing choice, you can provide the university with your UCAS ID and Clearing number. 

Make sure you get the university’s permission to add the course as a Clearing choice before you do.

Then, simply log in to UCAS Hub and add the details of the course under ‘Add a Choice’. 

You can only accept one offer at a time through UCAS Hub.

4. University or college considers application

Most offers provided by universities in Clearing are unconditional, so normally, the university will accept your choice once you’ve added it to UCAS Hub.

You will need to wait until the choice has been accepted or declined before you can add a new Clearing choice, if needed.


Universities will not make any decisions on Clearing choices during the UCAS results embargo, and UCAS Hub will not update during this period.

The UCAS results embargo lasts for about a week before each results day. In 2024, A level results day is 15 August. If you took your exams in Scotland, the SQA results day will be 6 August. 

This might delay your progress through Clearing, so it’s worth bearing in mind. It is still worth contacting course providers before UK results days if you have your results.

5. You’re placed on your course

Congratulations! Once your choice is accepted, you’re officially on your chosen course.

You can now start preparing for your studies by speaking to the university about the CAS number and visa process, and making other arrangements.

6. What if I’m not successful?

If your choice is declined after adding it to UCAS Hub, or you aren’t getting the offers you were hoping for, simply return to the research stage and keep trying.

You can keep contacting universities, getting offers and adding a choice to UCAS Hub as many times as needed until 21 October.

Bear in mind that places for more popular courses will go quickly, so you should try and do this as early as possible.

Decline my place

If you’ve had an offer confirmed on UCAS Hub, but don’t want it anymore, you can use Decline My Place.

This will remove your accepted offer and allow you to add a new choice.

Be careful! Decline My Place is not reversible, so you should arrange an offer for a new course and be ready to add it to UCAS Hub before using this feature.

After you secure a place to study in the UK

You made it! You’ve officially secured a place on a course at a UK university, but there’s still a few important activities you need to complete.

Student visa

Applying for a student visa should be your first priority – it can take time to process, and you can’t enter the country without one, so make sure you do this as soon as possible!

You’ll get advice from your uni or college on how to do this, but you can also see our guide to visas and immigration for all the key information ahead of time.


As a Clearing student, you’ll be getting your place on a course a bit later than some other students.

It’s important to check what accommodation is available early and get the best place for you.

You should consider your budget, whether you want to share with other students, and what location will be best for your lifestyle and studies.

Register with a GP

Registering with a GP is an important step for every student. It’ll allow you to access health services during your studies, as well as emergency care should the worst happen.

You will be able to register with a GP once you have arrived in the UK and enrolled on your course. Your new university can advise you on the best place to register.

Prepare for life in the UK

Your life in the UK might be quite different to at home. You can make it as enjoyable and comfortable as possible by doing things like:

  • Researching your local area to see what services, activities, and cuisines are available
  • Bringing items from home to help you settle into your new accommodation
  • Attending a pre-arrival event in your home country. Many larger universities host events where you can learn a lot about the uni and UK culture, as well as meet other students coming from your country

Travelling to your university and arriving

Arranging your travel in advance, including tickets and travel insurance, can take the stress out of moving. Please note, CAS number and visa delays can happen, so we recommend waiting until you have received your visa to book travel, or ensure your ticket is refundable or flexible.

Many universities have airport collection services for arriving international students – check with your international office to arrange this.

Settling in

Adjusting to life as a student in a new country can be challenging, but it’ll also be exciting and a lot of fun! 

UK universities provide a range of support to international students, including orientation sessions, campus tours, social events, and help with adjusting culturally.

Top tips for Clearing from UK universities

Our top tip is (unsurprisingly) research. Have a list of Clearing options ready ahead of results day (even if you don’t think it’s necessary) and the best way to contact universities. Is the process email, call centre, or online chat? 

Know your contacts within International Offices who may be able to help or offer advice. 

And finally, act quickly!

Charlotte Davison, Regional Manager, Global Engagement, Loughborough University

Read our Clearing guide in Mandarin