Universities go the extra mile during this year's clearing

August 20, 2009

Rubber-duck racing, an all-night internet chat service and an iPhone application are among the tactics being employed by universities for this week's clearing process.

With the government-imposed cap on student numbers expected to result in a tough time for those participating in the national scramble for places, universities are going the extra mile to help people vying for an offer when A-level results are released today.

The University of Buckingham is promising to reward every student accepted during clearing with a rubber duck, which they can enter into its annual duck race.

This year's race, which takes place on the River Ouse on 2 September, includes a special category for clearing callers. "What better way to take your mind off your worries than by decorating a little yellow duck?" the university said.

Buckingham, which is Britain's only private university, is also pitching for business by playing up its freedom from the expansion constraints. "There is one campus university in the UK entirely free of government cuts. As such, it is able to take as many well-qualified students as come forward," it said.

The University of Greenwich, meanwhile, is laying on late-night phone lines for inquiries, extending this to an all-night opening on A- level results day.

At Edge Hill University, academics tending the phone lines have been charged with giving advice not only about the institution and its academic requirements, but also on the "atmosphere" of courses.

Other institutions are taking a high-tech approach to clearing.

Thames Valley University will be updating its course and clearing information via an iPhone application, which includes prospectuses as well as information regarding campuses, contacts and funding advice. The university is also using social networking websites Facebook and Bebo to get its message out.

Twitter is being put to use by numerous institutions, including the universities of Northampton and Wolverhampton.

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