24 hours in, how’s Clearing looking?

As we look at the JCQ+1 data from UCAS, some surprising patterns are establishing themselves.

David Kernohan is Deputy Editor of Wonkhe

Every week day, at 11am, UCAS are publishing details of the current status of university applications – a service that extends 28 days after JCQ results day.

It’s worth reminding ourselves what we have been expecting this summer:

  • A busier and more frenzied Clearing than ever before
  • High tariff providers expanding at the expense of low tariff providers
  • A drop in international student recruitment.
  • A sharp rise in deferred entry.

None of these things have happened.

Applicant status

The first day of the peak clearing season has not been characterised by applicants making quick decisions in the face of incredible deals. Indeed, numbers taking up their “firm offer”  are up (and “insurance offer” on a par) on last year, whereas placements via clearing are down (half that of last year). Slightly more applicants are holding an offer rather than making a decision. And less are currently free to be placed in clearing than last year.

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The other tab on this visualisation shows the change between status on JCQ results day and status a day after. More applicants than last year (double the number in 2018) have seen their status change to “free to be placed in clearing” – a trend partially driven by lower than expected results in some cases, and partially driven by applicants being less keen to immediately take a place from clearing than in previous years.


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Deferrals at this stage of the cycle are very similar in level to previous years. With the rise in numbers accepting their firm choice, I had wondered whether longer plans to defer would also be negotiated at this point. There’s been media reports of very selective providers offering deferred places to candidates appealing grades or resitting in the autumn – we’re not seeing this to any great degree in the data.


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Here I’m showing this point in each cycle on the top chart, and the action on day 1 for each year is on the bottom. At an overall level, high tariff providers are doing sharply better than in previous years. But this is not because of an early Clearing blitz, rather a rise in firm offers being accepted and a continued expansion in acceptances from non-EU international students. EU student acceptances are down across the board, but more sharply in medium and low tariff providers.

Medium tariff providers look to have done better at recruiting UK students during the first 24 hours of peak clearing.

Next time

I can’t promise to do one of these every day, but there will be a few more as we get more of a sense of wider trends. So far – cautious applicants, international success, and a solid start to the year for universities look to be on the cards.


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