How to Make Your Way through Maze of Clearing If You Have Missed the Grade; Students across Wales Will Be Opening Their A-Level Envelopes Today, with Many Making the Leap into Higher Education. but for Those Who Don't Make the Grade, the Transition Can Be Tough. with 50,000 Expected to Battle for a University Place through "Clearing", Rilla Morries, Head of Information and Marketing at Careers Wales, Answers Your Questions

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Q What is clearing and am I eligible? A Clearing takes place following results in August and September. During clearing, students are able to apply for places available on suitable unfilled courses. It is important to research courses carefully before applying. To take part in clearing, you must have already applied through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas). If you are eligible, an "add clearing choice" button will be visible on the Track section of the Ucas website. For more information and to find out whether you are eligible, visit www.ucas.com Q But surely clearing means that I've failed? A No, it means you haven't achieved the right grades for your chosen course. However, depending on your actual grades, there are lots of other courses you may be able to choose from. If you're not able to get on to a degree course, you could consider applying to take an alternative level course to a degree such as a higher national diploma.

Q What do I have to do and where do I look for vacancies? A Seek advice from you parents, teachers and Careers Wales to determine which courses or subjects are most suited to you. For independent advice from Careers Wales, visit www.careerswales.com, or call our Learning and Careers Advice Line on 0800 100 900.

Check which courses have vacancies by reviewing official vacancy lists on Ucas.com, or in the national media.

Some course vacancies get filled quickly and some have more space available as the day progresses. Keep up to date by checking the Ucas website throughout the day. Once you have your exam results, contact as many universities and colleges with course vacancies that you want to.

You can choose any course which matches your skills and interests, you don't have to stick to the subject choices you made originally. Have your clearing number to hand and make yourself available to speak to admissions tutors by telephone - do not get your mum or dad to do it.

During clearing, you may receive provisional offers from a number of universities and colleges, but you don't have to accept the first offer that you receive, and should consider carefully whether it's the right course, location and career path for you. Be prepared to make a decision about which offer to take and confirm your choice on the Ucas website. Ucas will let you know if you have been accepted, if not you can apply for another course through clearing.

Q How long have I got to apply through clearing? A The clearing system is available between July and September, although most people use it after receiving their results in mid-August. You can apply to clearing up until September 20, or if you applied to university through Ucas after June 30, you will be automatically entered into clearing.

Q Can I apply to the same university that rejected me the first time? A Yes, you can apply for any course at any university providing you have the required grades. If you declined an offer from a university or college earlier in the year, you can re-contact them to see if they will accept you in clearing, either for the same course or any other. …