IB Students: At a UCAS Clearing Advantage?

Do IB students have an advantage in the UK's UCAS Clearing system, which allows students who didn't receive the university offers they hoped for to 'shop-around' for other courses...
IB Students: At a UCAS Clearing Advantage?
By Carli Allan
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If you do not get the grades you need for your original university course in the UK, then you may need to go through Clearing.

You can apply for a course using Clearing from July 5 until October 17, 2023 – if you’re not already holding an offer from a university or college, and the course still has places. This means that IB students, who collect their results on July 6, have more time to navigate their way through Clearing compared to those doing A Levels.

However, the majority of Clearing places won't become available until after A Level results are published on Thursday, August 17.

UCAS Clearing is for anyone who didn't meet the conditions of their university offer, did better than they expected and wants to see if they can find a 'better' course, didn't receive any offers - or anyone that accepted no offers.

Over 60,000 applicants obtained places through Clearing last year. These include places at top universities and on sought after courses, for a whole number of reasons - not least because of students failing to get their grades, or last minute switches from students who perhaps did better than expected.

What advantages do IB students have when it comes to Clearing?

Florence Everett is Head of Horizons at Bradfield College, which offers both the IBDP and A Levels at sixth form. She explains: 

“Clearing is open from July 5, 2023, before A Level results are published so some courses may become available at this time, and it is again worth calling round universities to see if you can find a place on a course that may have come up in Clearing.

"However, many places may not be available until after the A Level results are published so you can try again to find course availability then. So, the advantage is you have two chances of finding a course through clearing.”

Alessandro Capozzi is Head of Sixth Form at King’s InterHigh, which is currently piloting the world's first online IBDP. He adds:

“For the most part the advantage for IB students comes from taking a brilliant qualification that prepares them very well for the independence and rigour of university. At King's InterHigh, we also make sure students get intelligent, relevant advice so they can make informed choices on their university applications that increase their likelihood of getting several offers. 

“But some students do get better results than expected, change their mind or apply late to UK universities so Clearing is the option for them. For IB students, they can engage earlier with these opportunities; plus, as their course has helped develop them as critical and nimble thinkers, they can often process what they want to do very well and consider how well suited it will be for them.

"Then, of course, as with all DP students, the IBDP is very well regarded internationally, and universities are always interested in taking on IB students.”

Clearing: What you need to know

When we asked UCAS for the most simple way to find your Clearing place, their education experts said:

Clearing offers choice and flexibility for any student, whether they’ve received their predicted, better, or lower grade - especially for anyone wanting to keep their options open, or change course or institution. They can also use UCAS’ Clearing Plus tool that matches them to a personalised list of available courses.

“Clearing Plus is only available if you’re unsuccessful with your application or are applying for the first time for a place in Clearing. You’ll be able to ‘view your matches’ in your UCAS Hub.

“We can help you secure a place in three simple steps."

1: From July 5, check our listings of available courses.  

Almost every university participates in Clearing. There are still thousands of courses to choose from.

2: Contact your new choices directly.

Get in touch with the university or college directly to see if they will accept you for the course you’re interested in.

3: Add your Clearing choice in your application.

Once you have an offer, add it in your application so the university or college can officially accept you. Congratulations, you’re in!

Need some inspiration? If you’ve already applied and find yourself in Clearing, you can sign into your application to see courses you’ve been matched to and might like. 


Please remember that your examination results do not define you or your future. Many people set off from their school years with plans and expectations that take turns in different directions, irrespective of how well they did academically.

Examination results do not define the person you are; it is your personality and the way that you deal with results and other challenges - great, good, or not so good - that determines your future.

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