Last week we held our National Clearing Survey webinar, The 2022 Clearing Student Revealed.

It was a chance to provide strategic marketers with a unique opportunity; to take the first look at the new 2021/22 personas, question the research team and have the headline results presented for the very first time. Our Net Natives’ strategists then shared how these insights might be used to inform integrated marketing plans to give institutions an edge in 2022. So, what were the key takeaways, and how should you be preparing for this year’s Clearing? 

It’s fair to say that Clearing 2021 was more low-key than usual, with Clearing acceptances down a huge 33% (after 28 days) compared to 2020. Factors including a near-collapse in EU applicants during the Clearing window (down 56% year-on-year), turbocharged by Brexit and Covid-19, and very high A Level results following teacher-assessed grades all contributed to this. 

However, our Net Natives strategists are predicting a busier Clearing in 2022, due to the increasing 18-year-old demographic combined with a gradual return to IRL exams. 

Going off our key findings from the 2021/22 NCS report, there are some things to keep in mind when planning for Clearing 2022. 

Firstly, Clearing is increasingly becoming an active choice for students:

  • Fewer students contacted their original institution in Clearing 2021, down from two in three in 2018 to only one in three this year.

  • Double the amount of students (42%) had done research on Clearing in 2021, compared to 2018 (20%).

  • More students chose an unknown institution this time around - with almost a quarter (24%) not having heard of their Clearing university beforehand, compared to only 14% in 2018.

This highlights that many students are no longer simply going back to their original choice of university with lower grades, but are instead actively choosing to look elsewhere in Clearing. This means there will be more opportunities to capture these students and shows that the quality of your value proposition and being strategic in your marketing are more important than ever. 

In addition, year-on-year we’ve seen “how the Clearing process works” and “when does Clearing open” being the top areas students are researching. This emphasises the importance of having content around these topics, as if your institution can provide the answers when students are looking, you may well be their first choice further down the line. 

The NCS report also revealed that The radius of Clearing students who are willing to travel from home is shrinking. One in three clearing students say that ‘distance to travel’ is becoming a larger barrier to entry, and ‘being close to home’ was the second most important factor when deciding what institution to contact. Only 7% of Clearing students said they wanted to stay close due to Covid, so this feels like a permanent trend. This is something universities should therefore factor in when targeting their Clearing campaigns.

Another key finding from the report was that students continue to use a wide variety of channels, with the biggest relative loss/increase in daily use by Clearing students happening on Twitter and Facebook (loss) and TikTok (increase):

  • Instagram -9% 
  • Snapchat -11%
  • YouTube -17% 
  • Twitter -28%
  • Facebook -39%
  • TikTok +1150% 

Instagram and Snapchat are still the most popular, and for “traditional” age students

TikTok is the third most used platform daily. For your Clearing campaigns, it’s important to tailor content for the different platforms. For instance, we know from our Student Pulse research that when students go on TikTok they want to see lighthearted content, and student-generated content which gives them a feel for student life or the campus. 

Ultimately, one of the most important messages from the report findings and the 2022 Clearing Student Revealed webinar, is that you should stop thinking of Clearing as being the ‘Black Friday of education’, and instead plan campaigns strategically throughout the year, to raise awareness early and to solidify your institution as a clear contender come Results Day. 

Take part in the National Clearing Survey 2022/23

The National Clearing Survey is only made possible with the support and cooperation of our university partners. By getting involved, not only are you helping to make Clearing better for everyone, but there are numerous benefits for your institution. Having your institution-specific data as a NCS partner allows you to benchmark against national findings. Your Akero Data Labs dashboard will help you:

  • Identify which segments you should be targeting

  • Uncover where there is potential opportunity to grow market share during Clearing

  • Position effectively against these segments

  • Engage and support prospective Clearing students, cutting through the noise

  • Develop a comprehensive marketing strategy for Clearing based on real data and insight

  • Have potential for further deep-dive research

To make the most of these key findings, sign up to Akero Data Labs today for free .

If you want to watch the full webinar, you can catch up on demand. And to delve even deeper into the insights, check out the full NCS report

If you have any questions about getting involved with next year's NCS, the dashboards or any of the findings, please get in touch at 

Article by

Tilly Howarth

Marketing Events and Campaigns Executive