Clearing and adjustment has become an increasingly popular route into higher education with UCAS confirming over 17,000 students were accepted through the process in 2019 so far, up 15% on 2018. This year self-releasing online was made possible for the first time ever, and students across the country traded up and moved across in their droves.
With a record number of institutions making quality courses available in this new marketplace, including the top ranked universities such as Cambridge, what does this mean for the Clearing landscape? We delve deeper into the most popular Clearing course searches, performance of high to low ranked institutions and destination trends across the Complete University Guide (CUG) and Whatuni.
On A level results day this year CUG received over 1.2 million pageviews, a YoY increase of 23.86%, with specific clearing pageviews increasing by a staggering 41.70%. Meanwhile, in the month leading up to results day, CUG clearing pages achieved a 29.31% increase in views, and Whatuni clearing pageviews were up 48.5%, suggesting that students are thinking about clearing far earlier than they have historically. Over 4,500 students (up 8%), shunned the main application process altogether this year according to UCAS and instead waited for their results to make their decision, and this trend is only set to grow.
The below chart compares the grades used to filter search results on CUG, where inputted grades are converted into UCAS points and bucketed into 30 point segments.
When looking at results day vs the preceding month, it’s clear to see that on results day there was a noticeable shift to the left – indicating that there were a higher proportion of users searching with lower UCAS scores. In the period 14 July – 14 August, 12% of users were searching for courses requiring 91 > 120 points, whereas on results day this increased to over 16%.
To note – this only includes users who input A-level results or UCAS points directly.
Subject level trends
As demand for courses found through clearing increases, what subjects are proving most popular? The top five subjects searched on Whatuni between 14 July and 14 August 2019 are found below.
In 2018 (for the same period) Psychology also ranked as the top most searched subject, however, this year its popularity has fallen by 6.36%.
2. Life Sciences
Last year, Life Sciences came in as the second most-searched subject, however this year its popularity fell by 2.08%.
3. Semi-medical/ physical/ psycho/ therapies
This subject category places third, up one place from fourth last year, with a 2.97% increase.
4. Teaching/ training
Dropping from third place to fourth this year with a 14.92% decrease in searches, is teaching and training. In fact, this subject has dropped for two years in a row, after being the second most popular subject in 2017.
5. Computer Science
Our year-on-year comparison shows a 15.68% drop in searches for Computer Sciences, maintaining its position as the fifth most searched for subject on Whatuni.
On A level results day, we saw some interesting shifts. Biomedical Sciences was the most searched for subject on the day, having only ranked 11th in the month leading up to results. The fourth most popular subject was Economics, having only been the 25th most searched for subject in the month leading up to results. Meanwhile Teaching dropped out of the top five altogether, falling right down to only the 16th most searched for subject on results day.
Complete University Guide
On CUG on A level results day there was no major change in subject popularity with scarcely noticeable increases for Economics (1.11%) and a very marginal drop in Medicine searches (0.80%). See the most popular subjects on CUG between 14 July – 14 August 2019 below:
Law remains in first place this year, however, it has suffered a drop in searches, falling by 2.62 percentage points.
Medicine remains the second most searched for subject, and compared to last year, it has seen a marginal increase of 1.16%
3. Computer Science
Computer Science remains in third place, with a scarcely noticeable increase of 0.42%.
Economics remains in fourth position with a 0.69% increase.
Psychology takes fifth position again, with a marginal increase of 0.51%.
Search Destinations: where from
The top three cities where traffic to Whatuni originates in the period 14 July-14 August 2019 are London, Birmingham and Bristol. London has the highest share with 16.6%, while Birmingham ranks second with 1.6%. Bristol has trended upwards and overtook Glasgow which was in third place last year.
On results day, London and Birmingham remain the most busy origin cities for students searching, however students further north in Liverpool, Manchester, and Leeds make up the third, fourth and fifth most popular origin cities for Whatuni searches respectively. Meanwhile students in Bristol drop to seventh from third.
On CUG the searches for the period 14 July-14 August 2019 came predominantly from London with a 18.9% share of total searches, followed by Birmingham with 1.57% and Lagos 1.33%. Bristol’s upward trend can be seen on CUG as well as Whatuni – after rising by 0.36 percentage points it now places fourth amongst the most popular origin cities.
On results Day, the searches on CUG, much like Whatuni, came predominantly from London and Birmingham, however students in Leeds, Manchester and Nottingham make up the third fourth and fifth origin cities respectively. Across both sites we see an opportunity to target students in the Midlands and North of England.
Search Destinations – where to
The most popular regions being searched for between 14 July and 14 August 2019 as study destinations in the UK on Whatuni are: Greater London (20.65%), South East England (13.65%), and North West England (8.6%). West Midlands is still the fourth most searched for destination but has seen a slight decrease in interest losing 1.11% share to other regions. This trend doesn’t change on results day.
The total calls taken by institutions increased by 14.8% YoY, showing that universities are becoming even better equipped to deal with students in clearing. The average call duration was 6 mins 18 seconds, slightly up from last year’s 5 mins 40 seconds. Answered call percentage on average was 85.11%, with a record 57 institutions answering 100% of calls from Whatuni, and 38 institutions answering 100% of calls from CUG.
|Whatuni||CUG||Total or average|
|Total mins||271hrs 51mins 46secs||684hrs 33mins 19secs||956hrs 25mins 5secs|
|Answered call %||81.81%||88.41%||85.11%|
|Average duration||6 mins 23 secs||6 mins 12 secs||6 mins 18 seconds|
While the lion’s share of clearing places have been secured, there are still many opportunities available with a few students still navigating their choice. We’ll be monitoring CUG and Whatuni for further developments until clearing closes on 23 October. For more information about any of the above insights, please contact email@example.com.