BridgeU and You: 2021 Results & Enrolment

Together with UK universities, we've put together the ultimate guide to understanding your options once you have your results.

Where are you up to with your university applications? And how are you feeling about it all? As your senior school year of secondary school comes to an end, it’s totally normal to feel a little overwhelmed.

What will your final results be? Will you definitely get to go to your top-pick university? Or perhaps you've not even applied yet, and are wondering if it's still possible to enrol for 2021 entry?

Whether you’ve got your final marks already and are planning ahead just to be safe on Results Day, or whether you’ve decided to change your initial plans (whatever they were), we’ve gathered some go-to resources so you can make sure you’ve got all the cards in hand.

Universities around the world offer students different pathways and options. Many universities in mainland Europe, for example, do rolling open admissions, so you have right up until September to apply.

Some universities in the US, on the other hand, are making exceptions to their usual cut-off deadlines in order to accommodate the disturbances that COVID-19 has caused on students’ application processes.

This year, we’re also doing something a little new here at BridgeU: we’ve partnered with UK universities to help you navigate the ins and outs of last-minute applications.

Why are we starting with the UK? Well, one of the most popular and prestigious destinations with students from around the world, the UK’s university admissions system stops accepting traditional university applications on 30 June.

But here’s the cool thing: on the 5 July, there’s a whole separate application process that opens for students applying in the final few months before courses begin in the Autumn.

UK university enrolment at a glance

You might already know that the UK has a fairly distinct university admissions process where students apply directly to a specific course (in contrast with, say, the US, where students apply to a university in general, and can then choose specific courses from their offerings).

Applying in the UK after the 30th June involves a process called Clearing, and its sister process Adjustment.

From 5 July onwards, universities around the UK publish a list of courses that are still available for Autumn 2021 Entry.

If you want to know a bit more about how Clearing works and the great options it provides, check out Yusuf's story below. 

It’s an amazing opportunity for students in a variety of situations who want to study in the United Kingdom:

  • Students who have already applied to a UK university but want to change courses or institutions.
  • Students who have yet to apply to university (did COVID-19 or other circumstances get in the way of your plans earlier in the year? Or were you simply not ready to make a decision back in February, but you’re feeling ready now?)
  • Students who have received their results and done better than expected, and would like a second shot at applying to a different course or university with higher entry requirements.
  • Students whose results have not gone to plan, and have not met the conditions of their original university offers.

What makes Clearing & Adjustment different from applying before 30 June?

As we've touched on above, applying from 5 July onwards in the UK means enroling through a unique process called Clearing (or Adjustment). If you've spent the last few months applying one way, or watching those around you plan and prep applications over a long period of time, Clearing can feel a little daunting. Here's what you need to know.

The application deadlines are much stricter

Clearing is open from 5 July and runs until 21 September. For students sitting A-Levels, the application window is even narrower, as you’ll have to wait for Results Day (10 August).

Adjustment has an even tighter window: 10 August to 18 August.

Since the majority of students studying in the UK sit A-Levels, A-Level results day is when Clearing is at its busiest (and when Adjustment begins). This year, that's 10 August.

Some universities distinguish Clearing before A-Level Results Day and call it ‘Early Clearing’, others wait until A-Level Results Day to list all of their courses, and others yet make no distinction whatsoever.

The best thing to do is to have a look as soon as you’ve got your results (IB and US curriculum students, for example, will have a few weeks head start) and to then contact universities directly with any enquiries.

If you know what you’re looking for but can’t see it, get in touch anyway: you never know!

Not all courses will be available

As we’ve touched on above, universities use Clearing & Adjustment as a way to even out course enrolment numbers. Specific degrees and course combinations which are already full will no longer be available.

Universities update available course listings throughout the Clearing time period.

If you can’t find your desired course through Clearing vacancy lists, it’s worth searching related courses or even contacting universities to ask what similar courses they might have available.

For example, a university might no longer have places for Criminology, but they might have Criminology & Sociology, or Criminology & Psychology available.

Have a look at the course descriptions. You might be surprised at how similar they actually are, or you might find something that sounds even better!

You’ll have to contact the university directly

The biggest difference between the normal application cycle (until June 30) and Clearing and Adjustment? You’re going to have to talk to universities directly!

This is most commonly done by phone, though many universities also have live chat and other social media functions ready to assist you throughout this time.

The way it works is you identify which available courses are of interest to you, and you then contact the universities directly through designated phone numbers. You’ll be able to find these phone numbers both on university websites and on UCAS.

Yes, it can definitely be nerve-wracking to talk to universities, especially if you’ve never spoken to a university on the phone before, or if English isn’t your native language.

It can be tempting to want a parent or teacher to phone the universities on your behalf, but, unfortunately, that’s not an option.

Universities will request to speak to you, specifically: they’ll want to get a sense of who you are and whether or not you’re a right fit for their course.

Places are often on a first-come, first-served basis

Since Clearing places are subject to availability, it’s true that the later you leave it the fewer options you’ll have. That’s why it’s important to do your research beforehand, and make a start as soon as you’ve got your results!

For most UK students, that’s A-Level Results Day (10 August), and that’s when you’ll see the most activity. However, students who get their results earlier, like IB students (5 July), can (and should) begin making Clearing arrangements then.

2021 results & enrolment with BridgeU

Thinking about starting university in the UK? The short time windows for Clearing and Adjustment can make it a slightly stressful process, but don't worry: we've put together a list of resources to help you find your dream university course in time for Autumn 2021.

Downloadable resources & worksheets

BridgeU Clearing & Adjustment Worksheets

Events & BridgeU exclusives

Find all the details on our Resource Hub.