Following last month’s announcement that universities are considering changing to a post-qualification admissions system, Student Hut asked 250 prospective students whether this would be a good idea. Their answers will shock you but should prepare you for the coming revolution.

If you really want to know what prospective students are actually thinking, ask them. Our friends at Student Hut wanted to know whether prospective students would actually prefer to apply directly to universities once they have grades and what they thought about using the Clearing process to do so. The answers gave us the three main trends that all education marketers need to know about.

(Read Student Hut’s original article here)

At Natives, we know that the trend for more and more students wanting to apply directly to university through the Clearing process once they have their grades has been shifting in the past five years since we launched the National Clearing Survey. But even we were surprised by these findings.

1. 60% of students would rather apply to university with their final grades

“I'd just rather know what my final grades are, to then be able to show the university as to what I have actually achieved and capable of.”

- Student Hut Opinion Panel

This is a savvy generation, one knows the cost (and benefit) of university and one that wants control over their future. The current admissions system is not set up for them. However, Clearing is. But…

2. Almost a quarter of students don’t know what Clearing is

clearing girl
“Only if you underachieve in your exams, you go through Clearing.”

- Student Hut Opinion Panel

That’s right. Despite Clearing being decades old, and regardless of your best efforts to inform, almost a quarter of students still don’t know what Clearing is and how it can be the answer to the students’ needs. And worse than that...


3. Two-thirds of students view Clearing negatively, as something only for those who get lower grades than expected

This isn’t good news for anyone.

  1. Either you’re a Russell Group, and prospective students may not consider that you offer direct applications through Clearing, or, worse, will see the fact that you do as damaging to your brand. 

  2. Or you’re non-Russell Group, and your involvement in Clearing may be seen as a testament to perceived low-level status.

“Universities that are less popular in general offer Clearing. Usually, the unis that are quite low on the league tables.”

- Student Hut Opinion Panel

So what can you do? There are two simple things to do. And you need to start now.

  1. Embrace Change. Your students want to apply to your university once they have their grades. Make Clearing a positive choice.*

  2. Know your audience. The National Clearing Survey is six years old this year. It is the first, largest and only independent survey to understand the motivations of Clearing students and is completely free for universities to take part.

*Oh, and if you want to find out how Natives blend research, data, creativity and advertising to change the narrative for their clients, why not get in touch.

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Article by

Steve Evans