Don’t Panic! Advice for Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire A-level students

Wednesday, August 15, 2012
5:49 PM

What if I don’t get the results I hoped for?

The first step is to find out if your university or college is still willing to confirm your place anyway, especially if you’ve only just missed the grades.

Use the “tracking” service on the Ucas website to find out if your place is confirmed or give them a call.

If you are unsuccessful with your first-choice offer but meet the requirements for your insurance offer, you will be accepted there instead.

If you miss out on both, you can try to find a place on a different course or at a different university or college through Ucas’s Clearing process.

What is Clearing?

If you apply late, don’t get any offers, or do not meet the requirements of either your firm or insurance offer, you can enter the Clearing process.

It allows students to search vacancies at all other universities and colleges.

Clearing is also an option if you decide to turn down the offers you have received.

You can choose to enter clearing through the Ucas website.

From today, vacancies at universities and higher education colleges will be advertised on the Ucas website. Students can contact admissions staff at any institution with places available on a course you’re interested in to find out whether they are prepared to offer you a place.

Once you have entered details of a clearing place you would like to accept on to the Ucas website, and it is confirmed by the university or college, you are committed to that course and cannot take up a place elsewhere.

What if my grades are better than I’d expected?

If you not only meet the conditions of your firm offer but exceed them, you may want to reconsider where and what you would like to study.

For those students, Ucas has now introduced an “adjustment” process.

Anyone who has exceeded the conditions of their firm offer will be eligible. It will be available from today until August 31. You have five days to register on the Ucas website for adjustment from either today or the day your firm offer changes from conditional to unconditional.

You can then try to find an alternative place at a different college or university. If you don’t, you will retain your place at your original choice.

What if I have changed my mind?

If you decide you would prefer to take up your insurance choice instead of your firm choice, you cannot do this automatically.

First, you need to check your insurance choice is willing to consider you through clearing. If it is, you should then contact your firm choice to explain the situation and ask it to release you from the offer. Your insurance offer can then make you an offer through clearing.

You can also decide to turn down all your offers and re-apply next year.

Or, if you did not originally apply for a deferred-entry place but have now decided you would like to begin your course in 2013 instead, you need to contact your university or college. It will be up to them whether they allow you to defer the start of your studies at this stage.

What are my other options?

Gap Year

You may decide to turn down your options, or arrange with your university to defer entry, so you can take a gap year.

Gap years can involve going travelling, working, volunteering, gaining extra qualifications, or a combination of all those options.

Universities and employers can look favourably on a gap year because of the extra skills and experience it can give you.

There are lots of websites available to help plan your gap year. Try the Year Out Group (, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website (, or Voluntary Services Overseas (

Further study

A full-time undergraduate degree is not the only option following A-levels. Foundation degrees, part-time degrees, re-taking A-levels or studying new ones are all possibilities.

They can help with a new university application later on, lead you into employment, or offer an alternative route if you have decided university is not for you.


Local and national government is increasingly investing in apprenticeship programmes to allow people to earn money while learning and gaining recognised qualifications. The National Apprenticeship Service ( is responsible for apprenticeships in the UK. It has a vacancy search on the website.

Find a job

Higher education is not the right route for everyone. Many 18-year-olds will want to start earning and head straight in to a job. The National Careers Service ( and both offer advice.


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