Clearing. The moment we’ve all been waiting for. But when it finally arrived, what happened? Did the students behave in the ways our experts predicted? Who were the students applying through the Clearing process, and did institutions experience an influx of direct applicants as expected? 

It’s time to analyse the day’s events and see how they fared up to our predictions.

1. Students did their research 

With many students having selected their Clearing institutions before Results Day, universities needed to be prepared for an influx of communications, both digital and via the phone this year. ​

Our Product Director Alex Calder predicted, “I expect to see a decrease in offers made over the phone, and many more made via digital channels. [...] Invest in email, live chat and the back-end technology to support this infrastructure now.”

The reality? Calder explains “through dynamic call tracking via Akero we could see that, for some institutions, almost 50% of calls on 10 Aug came from students who had written the number down previous to Results Day, meaning students actively planned their approach.” This trend is likely to grow into 2022, and beyond, as students continue evolving into even more savvier and considered decision makers.

2. Tracking was essential

For those who opted for a more modern approach and contacted institutions via live chat or social media, tracking was imperative. Whether it’s UTMs, call tracking, or lead scoring, full visibility of the funnel is crucial to understanding where the students were and streamlining the Clearing processes. Alex Calder reflected, ‘institutions should be capturing data before Clearing’, even stating the possibility of booking calls in advance with those keen students. 

3. Contingency was key, especially when it came to budget

With an unprecedented amount of students actively researching their options and taking a measured approach, the day highlighted that flexibility is key to maximising enrolments.

And, with record-breaking numbers of students receiving A* and A grades, the competition was fierce to secure a place at the top-ranking institutions. As such, students looking to go through adjustment are still largely unplaced as courses filled up quickly on Results Day, and beforehand, causing some institutions to plead with students to defer their places until 2022.

But if you’ve still got budget in your contingency plan, where should you place it? Invest it in building your brand for next year, of course.

4. Clearing 2021 was less turbulent than in previous years 

Nick Willmer, Head of Education, predicted; ‘there will be more certainty and less turbulence in this year’s Clearing. It’s the personas you need to keep a sharp eye on. Numbers of direct and mature applicants will continue to rise and possibly equal or surpass the traditional student group, driven by older age groups wanting to retrain or upskill.’

And this held up. Clearing 2021 was relatively steady. Institutions experienced most activity in the morning which tapered off slightly as the day progressed. Those looking to secure places on Results Day had their research to hand and those looking to explore their options held out. This made Clearing smooth, rather than a scramble of panicked telephone calls. ​

Clearing isn’t over yet 

‘Students rightly will not be in a rush to make their decisions; the power sits with them and they know it.’ - Tom Setter, Advertising Director ​

While numerous offers were made on Results Day, not all students accepted straight away. The typical student market share increased by 3.9% this year, with 18-year-olds accepting offers immediately. ​

However, the other subgroup of Direct Applicant, the mature students, held out this Clearing, and this pattern of behaviour is likely to continue in the run-up to the start of term. The mature student requires an always-on approach and one that continues to drive applications long after Results Day. As of 11 August 2021, there were still over 100,000 students left unplaced in Clearing. 

If this article hasn’t made it clear already, then here it is loud and clear - Clearing is starting earlier every year. That means students are researching earlier so you need to get your brand in front of them as early as possible. Be disruptive in your approach so your students have no doubts about choosing your institution in 2022. 

Whether you’re looking for expert advice on your 2022 Clearing strategy, or you’re looking to convert those who have yet to accept an offer, get in touch today. We’ll help you exceed your offer targets. ​

Article by


Lois King

Digital Marketing Assistant