UK Higher Education

Teacher & Student Perspectives on Clearing

A-level Results Day 2018 was once again a mixed bag of emotions with some students sailing into their first-choice courses and others desperately looking for alternative routes. Our Whatuni team visited two sixth form colleges in London on the big day, offering first-hand support to students and gaining an insider’s perspective on how Clearing is experienced on the ground. We caught up with a few teachers and students about their views on Clearing.

Teachers’ Opinions on Unconditional Offers & Predicted Grades

With the dramatic rise of unconditional offers making headlines this year, we asked two teachers what they thought of this trend. Tim Shehu, the Careers Coordinator and Advisor of St Charles Catholic Sixth Form College in London, said: “I’ve seen first-hand how the increase of unconditional offers discourages students to do well and prepare sufficiently for their exams; they simply don’t take their exams seriously.” He added that future employers are likely to consider A-level results when recruiting, which makes high performance crucial.

Joanna Large, a sociology teacher at Woodhouse College in London, also had strong views on the matter. She said: “I’ve noticed a marked shift this year in the number of unconditional offers from universities and it’s hugely problematic. I’ve seen students working really hard, then given an unconditional offer and their motivation absolutely plummets.” She mimicked Tim’s sentiments about employers looking at A-level results when recruiting for strong candidates.

View our video with Joanna Large: 

When asked about the effectiveness of predicted grades, Tim said, “They are pretty inaccurate, as teachers bump up predicted grades to encourage students and to increase their aspirations. The danger is that it can build up expectations that aren’t always realistic.”

Likewise, Joanna viewed the system as problematic. “It can lead to students desperately trying to chivvy staff into giving them higher predictions than what we (teachers) realistically think they’re going to get.” She added that students often think they’ll get three As when they’ve been predicted three As. “This is not the reality, you’ve got to do the work.”

View our video with Joanna Large: 

Student Opinions on Clearing

We also chatted to students on Results Day about their views on Clearing and choosing universities. Here’s what they told us…

Malek Busari, a sixth former from St Charles Catholic Sixth Form College who studied mathematics, further mathematics and physics, was fortunate enough to get into his insurance choice at the University of Essex. He told us that he viewed Clearing as a particularly ‘hopeful’ process. He shared that his brother gave him a lot of advice on how the Clearing process worked and he found the UCAS website especially useful.

Danielle Edwards, a student from the same school, got into her first-choice university, after getting the right grades for biology, chemistry and mathematics. Her main method of research was going directly to university websites to see which vacancies were available. She said: “I initially found the prospect of Clearing scary, but my teachers were very supportive and reassured us that it’s just another way of getting into university.”

Cody Quiza who studied applied science level three admitted that he didn’t understand how Clearing worked at all. The limited knowledge he did have was thanks to advice shared by his sister who had gone through the process previously. When choosing a university, his main criteria was how close the university was situated to his home or to a city.

Hermon Tekeste, who successfully got into law at the University of Roehampton, said her primary consideration when choosing a university was for it to mimic her college experience as much as possible. Of Clearing, she said: “It’s vital for students to be prepared. I did all my research on various university websites and then compiled a list of suitable options ahead of Results Day. I also had a good understanding of what documentation I needed on Results Day.” Besides looking at university websites, Hermon also watched videos on YouTube about Clearing and spoke to her school’s careers coordinator. “Not only did our careers coordinator advise me on which courses were suitable for my grades, but he also recommended suitable backup options,” she explained. “These A-level exams were really hard, I’m very happy to have gotten into Roehampton. It’s amazing to think that the outcome of these two years in sixth form determines the rest of your life!”

One of the big feel-good stories of the day was from a very happy mother-and-daughter duo. Dayane Celi, an only child who moved from Spain to the UK with her family six years ago, was delighted to receive triple As and secure her firm choice of studying accounting and finance at the University of Bath. “I am so happy and so surprised. When I first got my results I was shaking,” she shared, while her mom stood proudly by her side.

Reaching More Students

This year’s Clearing has been the biggest yet for our Complete University Guide and Whatuni teams,. On A-level Results Day alone, The Complete University Guide had over one million pageviews with 3673 Clearing web-clicks and Whatuni had over a quarter of a million pageviews and 5848 web-clicks. Read our key Clearing trends for 2018 and click here to find out how your institution can work with us to boost recruitment during Clearing.

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