Clearing 2023 and the cost of living

16 August 2023

How to survive and thrive at university

A-level results day can prove a stressful time for many students and their families, with places at favoured universities often relying on the achievement of specific grades. This year, the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, combined with the news that approximately 40,000 students are predicted to miss out on securing a place at their preferred university, might lead to many students questioning whether further education is the right option for them.

In these difficult times, it's natural to wonder whether coming to university is a good idea. Many essential bills that come with leaving home, including food and accommodation, have increased over recent years, which can be challenging for those looking to live independently for the first time. Despite this, university remains an investment that could greatly benefit you in the long term, with graduates earning 30 per cent more than non-graduates.

For those who are worried about securing a place at university and dealing with the cost-of-living, it is important to remember that there are options available, and ways to prepare that will help you make informed choices that will lead to positive outcomes in the long run. 

Don’t panic, consider your options

The news that nearly 100,000 fewer top grades are expected to be awarded this year, may have caused some students to question their plans. If you’re currently waiting for your A-level results, the advice ‘don’t panic’ might seem futile, but it is the best approach. Acknowledging the possibility of disappointment and considering your alternative options is a very practical step that you can take to help ease the pressure of results day.

Should you miss out on the grades you were expecting, there are plenty of other routes you can take to progress onto higher education. Many students who don’t secure a place at their favoured university will secure a place at their insurance offer, and so the path to university will remain straight forward. For those who this isn’t the case for, or for those reconsidering their options, it is still possible to secure a place at another university, through Clearing.

"Acknowledging the possibility of disappointment and considering your alternative options is a very practical step that you can take to help ease the pressure of results day."

This is a great opportunity to not only look at alternative course options, but to consider different cities and locations, some of which will offer cheaper living expenses than others. UCLan, for instance, offers the third cheapest monthly rent on average in the UK, and the cheapest overall in the North-West, according to Save the Student.

Knowing your choices, should you need to make them, means that you can spend time exploring factors such as accommodation, financial support and bursaries, and you are more likely to find an alternative that is right for you.

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Preparation is key

Whether you secure a place at your first choice, or find yourself in Clearing, preparing for your next steps will put you in a strong position to make the most of your university experience. If you have questions or concerns about your university plans, it isn’t too late to explore your options and familiarise yourself with available information and support.

Clearing can be a good tool to utilise, and a fantastic opportunity to explore options that you hadn’t previously considered. However, it is important not to rush into any decisions. Conducting some research before results day, and building a list of potential universities, courses and contact numbers, is a good place to start. This can help provide you with a clear course of action on results day, making the process much easier to follow and helping you to make considered choices about your future.

Again, it’s worthwhile taking time to research factors such as accommodation prices and cost of-living support, to help you make an informed decision.

"It’s worth looking at the range of skills and experiences that each university can provide you with, whether that be a chance to take a placement year, study abroad, or engage with pioneering research."

Keep an open mind

When looking at the alternative options, it’s worth trying to keep an open mind and think about routes that you might have previously overlooked.

Different universities excel in different areas and can often offer varied experiences. For example, UCLan is part of the MillionPlus Association for Modern Universities, which promote, champion, and drive innovative, real-world learning. It’s worth looking at the range of skills and experiences that each university can provide you with, whether that be a chance to take a placement year, study abroad, or engage with pioneering research.

Ask for guidance

Don’t be afraid to ask for guidance or support before you make any decisions. Speaking through your options with a family member, tutor, lecturer, or careers advisor can help you figure out what options might be well-suited to you. Many universities will also have information and guidance about the cost-of-living and financial support they offer, which can help to put you at ease.

If you are still uncertain about what decision would be best for you, there is no harm in taking your time to think about your options. Clearing continues until mid-October, so you have plenty of time to consider all the information available.

Stay calm, gather what information you can, and consider all possibilities. Whilst missing out on top grades or having to live independently might feel like causes for concern, they could be the factors that lead you to a new and exciting opportunity you wouldn’t have otherwise considered.

Learn more and apply through Clearing

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