Almost half of the students who will go via Clearing don’t know where they'll land

Eleana Davidson on 11 August 2020

With the Covid Tracker, we’ve seen sentiment and opinions change weekly since March. And our most recent insights report has shown us that things are still worth tracking, most notably, how this year’s Clearing is shaping up to be one of the most dynamic we’ve seen. And being this close to Results Day; any insight that can get your nose ahead is an insight worth having. Here’s what we’ve learnt. 

Almost 4 in ten students told us that they are considering applying through Clearing this year. There has been a 14 point increase in students who want to change their course, since March, climbing from just 8% planning to change, to now seeing 21% planning to change. Those who are considering changing their university choice have nearly doubled since the beginning of lockdown too. 

What could be a very different turn of events this year is that around four in ten said they would challenge their results (an outcome of the new normal?) if they aren’t what is expected. 

And if Scotland is anything to go by...

Prospective students that do not get the grades they need to get into their firm or insurance choice, the majority (54%) have said they will go through Clearing.

Prospective students that get better grades than expected, one in five said that this will make them go through Clearing. 

What’s important for institutions to know, is that when students who said they would consider going through Clearing were asked whether they already know the institutions they would want to apply to, a huge 45% said they didn't. Meaning there is still much to play for...

What’s more: a quarter of students say they will take a few days to decide on what university they apply to via Clearing upon receiving their results. Compared to last year according to the National Clearing Survey, only 4-9% waited until the days after results day to start their process. So don’t expect this year to be a one-day event. 

But what behaviour can we expect on the day itself? 

When asked what time students were planning on checking their grades on results day, the most common answer prospective university students gave was 8 am-9 am. 15% of students said 7 am-8 am and 17% said 9 am-10 am. Few students said they are planning on checking their results after 11 am. So while we expect Clearing activity to be stretched beyond the day itself, that’s not to say all students have slowed in their quest for a precious place.

Looking to 2019’s NCS once again, 34% of our respondents had secured their place on A-level Results Day by midday last year (an increase from 25% in 2018/19). So get ready to fight on the day, but just make it sustainable and be prepared to invest in paid promotion deep into August and early-September. 

Be sure to keep pushing your brand and what you have to offer in front of them this week, and prepare to be active and advertising beyond, as that could be the difference between you and another institution they’re weighing up. 

To read the full report, upgrade here and while the Covid Tracker presents in-depth, real-time insights into future decision making, the difference between prospective decision making and those made retrospectively can be very different. The only way to fully understand what happens during 2020/21 widely unique Clearing is by partnering with the National Clearing Survey, where you’ll be able to benchmark your own institution’s data, with national benchmarks and the Covid Trackers findings. There’s still time to partner, just click here.

Eleana Davidson
Eleana Davidson on 11 August 2020