A Clear Case of Planning Your Future Studies; EDUCATION NOTEBOOK

Article excerpt

Byline: GRAHAM GRANT

FOR thousands of youngsters across Scotland, today could be the moment their lives change forever.

As exam results drop through letter boxes, pupils will greet the contents of the dreaded envelopes with joy, despair - or both.

But experts are already lining up to reassure them that, even if their results fail to meet expectations, there are other options.

One vital safety net is provided by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), which operates a 'clearing' service to help people without university or college offers find places on courses.

Most people who use clearing have already applied through UCAS but have not secured a place.

Students can be eligible for clearing if, for example, they are not holding any offers from universities or colleges, if their offers were not confirmed when their exam results were announced or if they have applied too late for their applications to be considered before clearing.

Anyone applying for clearing will need a clearing entry form (CEF), but there is still time to obtain one.

UCAS will process forms received until September 20 and after that date universities or colleges can be approached directly.

A spokesman said: 'We are doing all we can to provide advice and support to applicants who need to rethink their plans.

'Our customer services team will answer any queries applicants have about what they need to do next.

'And we are again working with Careers Scotland to provide the exam results helpline, staffed by careers advisers.' Helplines operated by Scottish universities and colleges which still have places on courses will have extended opening hours and extra staff on hand to help students.

In Scotland, most of the activity takes place in the first week after results are published, and course vacancies are published on the UCAS website, www. …