Clearing web 2

Clearing and Adjustment: helping students make the right choice

With Clearing and Adjustment just a week away on Thursday 16 August, teams across the University are gearing up to deliver this vital service to student applicants to help them make the right choice for their future.

With more flexibility and choice of places and options across the sector, Clearing is becoming more and more popular as a route into University for students. Thanks to teams of staff volunteers and colleagues from academic departments across the institution, as well from Student Recruitment and Admissions, Global Engagement, CiCS, Marketing and ACS, we’re able to provide students with an efficient and supportive experience.

Visit the new Clearing website

Clearing webA key part of student recruitment

Clearing and Adjustment is a huge operation at the University. Last year, we answered around 5400 calls on A-Level results day as well as taking 4500 applications over the phone or via the website.

We also saw the biggest ever number of applicants placed through Clearing on A-Level results day, with 700 home and over 100 international students accepting places through Clearing. With the introduction of Adjustment a few years ago, more and more applicants are taking this route to to come to Sheffield when they have exceeded their predicted A Level results. Clearing also allows us to offer places to some first-time applicants on our foundation programmes. With every clearing place, we focus on attracting high achieving students who fully meet the requirements of the course and who we believe will flourish at the University.

Applicants don’t have to make up their minds on A Level results day itself, and have the opportunity to visit the University on a special open day on the Saturday following Clearing.

We’re also pleased to offer an accommodation guarantee for all applicants coming through Clearing. Not all universities can do this and it really helps prospective students feel secure in making their choice to come to Sheffield, and supported in the transition through to living and studying in a new place.

The contribution of our staff

Wyn ClearingWe have a dedicated team of staff and temporary student helpers and ambassadors who provide information to applicants via the helpline, social media, and targeted communications. They play an important role in helping the applicants decide whether Sheffield is the place for them to study.

Last year was the first time staff volunteers were recruited from across the institution to help support the work of the Clearing helpline. They worked in shifts taking time away from their day job to help operate the phones. Over 40 volunteers were recruited and contributed to making Clearing a success. There is still an opportunity to volunteer in Clearing 2018, find out more here.

Our staff teams who work on clearing, either in their professional roles in recruitment, marketing or admissions or as volunteers away from their day job, are hugely important to the operation. We're really grateful for the extra support of volunteers, as it means we can deliver an even more efficient and supportive service to applicants, on what can be a stressful and disorientating day for them.

Clearing 2018 - what’s different?

A proactive campaign

This year the Clearing campaign ‘Take the lead’ was launched a whole month earlier, with registration for applicants opening at the start of July. A significant number of students have already signed up to this service and can browse available courses as well as be prioritised on results day. The Clearing Portal is hosted on the University’s new website. Departments across the University are being encouraged to make use of the resources available to promote their programmes.

Visit the Clearing portal

Make use of the campaign resources

The campaign features students, who themselves came to the University through Clearing, talking about their experience and providing insight and advice.

Watch the videos

Operations on the day

Clearing will be run from a special Hub in the Diamond. The team from Student Recruitment will be running the call centre helpline and a social media hub, joined by the call centre helpline team, International Recruitment, Corporate Communications and Academic Departments. Alongside operating the helpline, teams will be ensuring we have a good presence on social media and are responding to all queries through our platforms. Applicants will also have the chance to explore the University through a virtual open day service, this option is particularly important to international students not currently in the UK. The work of all teams is crucial in carrying out targeted conversion activity to ensure our applicants have all the information and support they need to make the right decision for them and, hopefully, choose to come and be part of the Sheffield community.

The UCAS embargo

The UCAS results embargo is now in place - each year we receive exam results ahead of applicants which allows us to make decisions on their applications, consider change of course options, ensure communications are ready for them on results day, and ensure we know which students we're looking to attract through Clearing and Adjustment.

Evidently, we have to keep the results under strict embargo until applicants get the information from UCAS or their school. We make changes to our systems to ensure we don't send out any emails or information to applicants by mistake.

Read the Times Higher Education story by Liz Carlile, our Head of Admissions, on running a successul Clearing operation.

Volunteering on Clearing

Find out what it’s like to be part of a team on A Level results day. Previous volunteers talk about their experience:

Jon Benson 2Jon Benson, Student Recruitment and Marketing Officer, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health

1. What did you do last year as part of volunteering for Clearing?

I have volunteered to support Confirmation and Clearing for several years - in fact I got involved when I was a student! Last year I worked on the incoming calls team - where students call the University to find out if they have a place, to make Clearing or Adjustment applications or find out more about the University, such as accommodation, the city, registration and more. It's incredibly busy but very rewarding being able to help so many students, which as a student recruitment officer is the highlight of my job.

2. What made you decide to volunteer?

It's an obvious choice to volunteer. Clearing is an incredibly important part of student recruitment that is essential for all of our academic departments.

3. What was the best thing about the experience?

Just like with my day job it's about helping students explore their study options and find the right course for them. We all know going to university is about much more than just picking a course, it's about developing your knowledge, building friendships, debating and challenging and discovering something new about the world and yourself. Clearing can be very stressful and intense for some students who are making big life decisions. Being able to play even just a small part in helping them is worth it - especially if students feel Sheffield is right for them!

4. What was the worst thing about the experience?

It's certainly very busy, but we all get fantastic training and support from the Admissions Service throughout the time. Colleagues that know me well, will know that I have a massive desk fan on full blast even when there's a blizzard outside... it can get a bit warm in an IT lab. But in fairness I think I'm alone in complaining about warm weather!

5. What advice would you pass on to volunteers this year?

Bring lots of water, your favourite biscuits/snacks and sleep well the night before. You'll need a clear head and you'll need to apply your training to lots of different situations, everything from processing applications, checking statuses, to giving very good news as well as giving difficult bad news. Staff are there to help you so don't be afraid to ask.

6. What do you think are the benefits of running an effective Clearing and Adjustment operation?

Some colleagues may not be aware that Clearing has changed a lot over the last ten years, with student choice and competition having grown. A significant minority of the total student intake is now through Clearing and Adjustment and it's a crucial time of year to get right for departments to achieve their student recruitment targets.

Sheffield has long been a sector leader in having an exceptional service at Clearing - we have online clearing pre registration, communication campaigns and excellent systems that enable us to turn around decisions for students very quickly. This is crucial when students could be enquiring with several other competitors on the day.

A big thank you to everyone that gets involved and especially to colleagues in Student Recruitment and Admissions, Global Engagement and Corporate Communications - see you on A Level results day!

CharisCharis Bronze, Widening Participation Officer, Faculty of Engineering

1. What did you do last year as part of volunteering for Clearing?

I helped on the phone lines, calling students to let them know they had been successful with their application to the University of Sheffield.

2. What made you decide to volunteer?

I know this can be an incredibly stressful experience for students and so I wanted to be able to help.

3. What was the best thing about the experience?

Giving out good news (and wearing a Britney Spears headset!).

4. What was the worst thing about the experience?

The early morning start and a very full-on and long day, but it's totally worth it.

5. What advice would you pass on to volunteers this year?

Don't be worried and enjoy it - you're given scripts to read and training on how to use the phones.

6. What do you think are the benefits of running an effective Clearing and Adjustment operation?

It gives prospective students a great impression of the University if the Clearing and Adjustment operation runs smoothly.