Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

THE Scholarly Web: People

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

THE Scholarly Web: People

Article excerpt

Weekly transmissions from the blogosphere.

What's it like to go through clearing? If anyone needs to understand the process and to know how it feels to navigate it, it's the National Union of Students - and that's why president Toni Pearce decided to put herself through the trials and tribulations of securing a last-ditch university place.

Using her Twitter account (@toni_pearce) to keep her followers in the loop, Ms Pearce set about her "social experiment". "I'm going to see how hard it is to apply to clearing if you don't have any access to information, advice and guidance," she tweeted.

After finding her way to the clearing website, she immediately had some queries about the Ucas registration form. "The only options on the ... form for gender are Male/Female. Which is awkward, given those aren't even genders," she said.

"Not only do Ucas not acknowledge I'm a woman. They also don't acknowledge my postcode. Probs less of an issue though."

In search of more information, Ms Pearce headed to the National Careers Service website - which she described as looking "like an offshoot of the Olympics".

"Great, on the front page of the national careers service website today it doesn't mention the word clearing ANYWHERE," she found, to her chagrin. "In fact, the NCS website front page doesn't even mention the word university. Great."

Undeterred, she ran a search of the website for the phrase "clearing". "The second result is about landmines." Conclusion? "Okay, the National Careers Service has been zero use in helping decide what to apply for."

Next, Ms Pearce decided to go where we all go if we have a problem we can't solve and need some reliable, considered and well-informed advice: YouTube. …

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