Bait offered as clearing nears

August 3, 2001

The media relations department at Lincolnshire and Humberside University said it all: "These days it's not students competing for places - it's universities competing for students."

University publicists around the country have been in overdrive during the past month in a bid to sway reluctant applicants and overturn the enduring stigma attached to the clearing student.

In a new approach this year, clearing success stories are being spun like mad in the run up to the annual bunfight, which is still a fortnight away.

More and more university departments, even at prestigious institutions, rely on last-minute applications to fill places.

At De Montfort University, there is a clearing website that includes tips on getting in to university ("don't go on holiday until you have a university place") plus answers to frequently asked questions relating to fees and qualifications.

York University's website tells prospective students that it expects to have clearing vacancies in seven academic fields including sociology and chemistry.

Leeds Metropolitan and Greenwich universities have already listed dozens of 2001 vacancies on their websites.

Bradford University has a reminder of clearing contacts on its website and is flagging student success stories.

Dana Barrett is a second-year European studies student who said she was in despair when she got her A-level results. But going through clearing meant she had more choices.

"I was frightened that I had missed my chance and there was no way I would get into university, but it was OK," she said.

Graeme Loarridge, a peace studies undergraduate, was disappointed not to get the grades he needed to study at King's College, London. "I gave up on university but I managed to speak to admissions tutors here and now I'm glad things turned out as they did."

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