Tales from the Clearing hotline


So you’re entering Clearing, you’ve got a list of potential unis in front of you and an idea of the course you want to study. But what now? You’ve got to call round them all and speak to actual strangers? You haven’t done that since McDonalds brought in self-service machines! In the space of a few minutes your main worry has gone from your exam results to having to have a conversation with a randomer.

We know ringing around universities can be a daunting task, particularly if you weren’t expecting to be doing so. But fear not, we on the other end of the phone know this. No matter what you’re worried you’ll blurt out, we have probably heard it before. Here’s 10 questions that were asked on the Clearing hotline last year.

1.‘What is my phone number?’

It’s surprisingly common how many people don’t know their own phone number. The old saying is that it’s politicians that answer a question with another question. But on A Level results day it’s definitely a student’s trait! More often than not this is the response we get when asking for someone’s phone number. Whether you’re having a blank or are calling from your mobile and therefore can’t look it up, we will happily give you a minute to find it. Before calling it’s a good idea to write down all your personal information and results so it’s easy to reel off when on the phone.

2.‘I only got a D because my hamster died, will this help me?’

One of the stranger questions we’ve heard. Where do we start… The people you will be speaking to on the phone won’t be the lecturers or Professors that’ll be teaching you, so don’t feel like you should be justifying why you’ve got certain results. Likewise the results you got are the results that will be used in Clearing. It doesn’t suddenly turn into a game of Dragon’s Den where you can barter for a better offer. Regardless of your hamster passing, sorry.

3. ‘Hi, is that the University of Birmingham?’

Another common trait amongst people calling the Clearing hotline is getting the name of the university wrong. But don’t worry it happens. We won’t be holding it against you. We understand you’ll be speaking to lots of different people and may get a name wrong. Clearing can be a bit like university Love Island. You’re going to be off flirting (calling) other unis seeing what their type is (entry requirements are). Only we’re not going to get jealous and go moaning in the beach hut. Like number one, why not write down the names of all the universities you’re planning on speaking to and when you’re on the phone to them you can note down what’s being said next to it.

4. ‘Do you mean the points on my licence?’

No. If we’re asking you for your points that’ll be your UCAS points. Not your licence or your Sunday league team. Again have them written down in advance and avoid the temptation to show off that you have been sticking to the speed limits.

5.‘Do you have any nursing courses available? If not engineering?’

Clearing is a time where people often change their mind on what they want to study. There is sometimes a big decision to make over going for what you’re good at or what you like. Don’t feel silly that you don’t know or get embarrassed that you’re top two options are in completely different fields!

6. ‘What course am I looking for? Errrm’

We also know that you may have no idea what you want to study. Maybe you want to come to uni for the lifestyle or to just move away from home. If you’re not a 100 per cent sure you should still call and the person on the other end will be able to recommend some courses to you based on your A Levels or interests..

7.‘How clean will the accommodation be?’

Your initial phone call to the Clearing hotline may not be the best place to get into the nitty gritty of a university. However if something in particular is concerning you it is worth bringing up and the person on the other end should be able to direct you to somewhere that will have the answer.

8.‘Can my Mum live with me?’

We understand that your parents can be a massive part of you deciding on a uni so don’t feel embarrassed if they are part of your question. Only with this one you probably know the answer already…

9. ‘Can you offer my son/daughter/friend a place?’

We appreciate you may be manning several phones at once (see Love Island analogy) and have family and friends helping you out. We can speak to them on the phone but when it comes to offering you a place we need to speak to you.

10. ‘Do we have to do this on the phone?’

No. Like McDonalds we’ve made it nice and easy for you to order, or in this case enquire, without speaking to a stranger. If you really don’t want to call us why not drop us a message on Twitter or Facebook?

Calling the Clearing hotline really isn’t that bad. Everyone is friendly and there to help. Try to have your information in front of you, know who you’re speaking to, and if you have people helping you out make sure they know exactly what you want. And all being well, come September the hotline will be nothing but a distant memory.

Call Clearing hotline

Clearing. Let's talk about you.

Looking for an undergraduate course to start this September? We have places available in a range of subjects. Our Clearing hotline opens at 6am on Thursday 17 August.

Call 0121 331 6777

Call Clearing hotline

Clearing. Let's talk about you.

Looking for an undergraduate course to start this September? We have places available in a range of subjects.

Find your course

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Do you have any questions?

0121 331 5595 


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