Busiest clearing on record

It's all happening in the admissions office

David Kernohan is Deputy Editor of Wonkhe

More than 10,000 main scheme UK applicants found university places via Clearing over the first 24 hours since JCQ results day, making 2023 the busiest year on record.

This followed a return to the pre-pandemic grade curve for A level results, meaning that many applicants failed to meet the terms of their offer. We’ve also seen a strong performance in applicants holding offers converting these into placements, suggesting that 2023 cycle entrants are well aware of the competition for places.

Edit: The first weekend after JCQ is an important part of the admissions cycle, and in 2023 it cements the importance of clearing. We’re looking at more than 6 per cent of all UK main scheme applicants finding a place via clearing, substantially above other years on record. And notably, there’s a greater proportion of prospective students using their insurance choice than any year since 2017. This, coupled with a lower than usual proportion of applicants currently holding an offer, suggests that this year students are keen to lock in places early – the demand for university places is clearly still there.

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Overseas recruitment is slower – 42 per cent of international applicants in the UCAS system (more than 57,000) are still looking for places 24 hours after recruitment opened, again the highest on record. No applicants have accepted a place via Adjustment – which is fine because it was abolished in 2022 (which may make you wonder why we get stats for that and not, say, Clearing Plus).

All this suggests that providers may be lowering entry grades to clearing applicants, with unplaced potential students with high grades clearly in very short supply.


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