'There are always other options' - Current students offer their advice on Clearing
A-level and BTEC results day is rapidly approaching, but what happens if you haven’t got the grades you hoped for, or if you’ve changed your mind about which course to study?
Maybe you didn’t apply for university but would like to know what’s available for you.
Whatever your situation, Clearing provides another opportunity to secure a place in higher education in September.
Here, three current students discuss their Clearing experience - and why the University of Bradford was the best choice for them.
A change of plan
Tiki Jathunarachchi, 21, is in her fourth year of a pharmacy degree, but she had initially applied to study medicine.
Tiki, from Durham, said: "I did biology, chemistry and maths for A-level and medicine seemed like the obvious route.
"But I realised I didn’t want to do surgery and I couldn’t see myself as a GP. I want to work in community healthcare, and pharmacy allows you to do that. It also brought in more of the chemistry side, which I am more interested in."
On A-level results day, Tiki didn’t achieve the grades she hoped for.
She said: "I didn’t know if I would be able to get onto a pharmacy degree.
"It’s so hard when you don’t know where you will be going or even if you will be able to get to university, when so many of your friends are celebrating and have their places secured."
At the time, Tiki knew very little about the Clearing process.
She said: "I assumed it was a mad rush for places and that once you had an offer, you couldn’t then shop around elsewhere. Neither of which is the case, I later discovered."
So, at 8am on results day, she shut herself away in her bedroom and began going through an alphabetical list of universities.
She said: "The University of Bradford’s five-year sandwich course, which includes two six-month work placements, stood out as being quite unique and really appealed to me.
"I didn’t know anything about Bradford at the time - I even had to Google where it was - but it was an easy distance away from Durham and a quick look online showed it ticked a lot of boxes for me."
It took just 10 minutes for Tiki to secure her place.
She said: "When I called the University, they asked me about my grades and why I wanted to do the course. There was a short interview, as that is part of the process to enroll in pharmacy.
"Ten minutes later and I had a place. I went back out of my room and told my parents, ‘Yes, I am going to university.’
"It was such a relief, especially to have it sorted on the same day as getting my results."
Tiki said: "My advice to anyone who doesn’t get the grades they are hoping for is, firstly, to try to keep calm. It’s not the end of the world even though it feels like it at the time.
"There are always other options or other ways to get where you want to be.
"I’m so happy to be at the University of Bradford. I’ve grown to love the city and its culture.
"There are so many societies to join. I became the Vice President of the Bollywood Dance Society as well as a Student Ambassador.
"I’ve now started my first six-month placement which is a really exciting opportunity."
'My heart was set'
Aaron Rodriguez Deb, 21, grew up in Spain and moved with his family to Watford, Herts., six years ago.
He is studying for an Master's in physiotherapy - sports and exercise medicine.
Aaron said: "I did A-levels in maths, further maths and physics, and had a place to study engineering at a Spanish university.
"But as it got closer to the start date, I realised it wasn’t what I wanted to do.
"I was offered the opportunity to shadow a physiotherapist for some work experience and straight away, I knew that was the career for me.
"I completed a BTEC in Sport and Exercise Science at West Herts College, but without the right A-levels, I knew my chance of getting onto a physiotherapy degree was slim.
"I had three offers to study Sports Science, but my heart was set on physiotherapy so I decided to try through Clearing."
Staff were so welcoming
Like Tiki, Aaron was apprehensive about Clearing.
He said: "It’s a really nerve-wracking time and I was dreading the process.
"I wanted to go to a university in Yorkshire, and Bradford appealed because it has easy connections to cities like Manchester and Leeds.
"The staff were so accommodating and welcoming. They immediately put me at ease and it was a massive weight off my mind when they offered me a place.
"I’m about to go into my second year and I couldn’t be happier here."
Part of the family
For Aaron, going to a smaller university has brought many benefits.
He said: "There are so many positives about the university. It’s nice being on a smaller campus because you feel part of a family.
"I started playing squash and I’m now the President of the Squash Club – something I might not have had the chance of doing so soon at a larger university.
"At the same time, there are still plenty of opportunities on offer. In September, I am going to be doing a pitch-side placement with a local rugby club, which is great to get such experience so early on in my degree.
“My advice to anyone who doesn’t get the grades they are hoping for on A-level day is to try to keep calm and trust the Clearing process."
'I wanted to feel included'
Kofi Ogbans, 28, came from Ghana to complete a Masters in logistics, data analytics and supply chain management. He is now a Student Ambassador and completing his dissertation.
He said: "I did a Bsc in administration management at Ghana Technology University College and, after working in customer service for a few years, I decided to look at UK universities for my Masters.
"What really stood out for me at the University of Bradford was the addition of data analytics as part of the course, which wasn’t offered at the other two universities I was considering.
“I felt like I was getting value for money and another set of skills."
Kofi added: "I knew that the School of Management was regarded as one of the best in the world.
"But for me, what really caught my attention was the diversity of the University.
"Coming from abroad, it was important to me to find somewhere I would feel accepted and included.”
Applying for a place was a straightforward process.
He said: "The staff made everything so easy for me. Right from the start, I felt like a valued member of the University.
"Sadly, not long after I started on my course, my mum passed away. The University has been so supportive. They organised some counselling for me and helped me sort out my finances."
Kofi said: "I had never been to the UK before and there was some initial cultural shock, but I quickly came to love Bradford, both the University and the city.
"Although I’m from Ghana, I joined the University’s large Nigerian Society. Being with other Africans made settling in much easier.
"As part of my year here, I was able to take part in a month-long summer placement in Lyons, France, which was a great experience.
"I originally thought I would return to Ghana to start my career but I really love West Yorkshire, and I like the diversity and the opportunities available in the UK so I have decided to look for a job here."