23rd January 2024

Every year, universities provide students with the opportunity to apply for leftover spaces last-minute. As you may know, this process is called Clearing. The system is designed for students who failed to meet the required grades for their chosen course or haven’t received any offers. But how does Clearing work for super-competitive courses like Medicine and are there any alternatives?

Let’s look at how Clearing differs in the UK and Europe, whilst considering other alternative options for prospective medical students.

We’ll cover:

  • What Clearing is and how it works for Medical School
  • Why Medicine Clearing is tough
  • Better alternatives (over Clearing) for studying Medicine

Ready to get started? Let’s dive in.

What is Clearing?

Clearing is part of the university admissions process that happens every year. It’s designed for students who either didn’t meet grade requirements for their course or didn’t get any offers.

It’s a UCAS-led process enabling students to apply for course spaces for the next academic year. That means little time is lost between receiving results and getting into a course!

Clearing exists in Europe too – however it differs slightly from the UK. In Romania for example, some universities have two sessions. An early July session where they try to fill as many spaces as possible, and a late September session where students can apply for the leftover spaces.

In Bulgaria, most universities have very late deadlines compared to the UK. This allows students to apply until late August for a chance to start their course a month later, in late September or October.


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Can you get into Medicine through Clearing?

Clearing is a little different for Medicine compared to other university courses. This is, in part, due to Medicine’s competitiveness and the small chance of spaces going unfulfilled.

Students wanting to go through Medicine Clearing may have missed the grades required for their chosen Medical School, or didn’t get any offers but still hope to study Medicine this year. If that’s you, you need to understand that it’s very difficult to get into Medicine via Clearing – but there are also some great alternatives available that can help you overcome the challenge.

There is a stronger chance of finding spaces at European Medical Schools during the Clearing period. This is due to less competition compared to the UK and greater availability of spaces.

How does Clearing work?

Clearing works on a first-come-first-serve system. Knowing where places are, by keeping a list in a single document with contact info and standard entry requirements, is a smart approach.

For UK universities, you’ll need to use the UCAS website to search for vacant spaces, contact the university, and check if you meet the admissions criteria.

Keeping in touch with MedConnect Europe about the requirements for Medical Schools in European countries can help you gain a better understanding about the process too.

Alternatives to Clearing

Medicine Clearing is unlike clearing for most other courses. Spaces are rarely available – and when there are, competition is intense. Luckily, there are other options available to help you bypass the Clearing process and go on to study Medicine.

Some of these options may not be as “ideal” as getting into Medicine the first time you apply, but they’re still worth exploring if your dream of becoming a Doctor is still alive!

Reapplying After A Gap Year

It is possible to reapply for Medicine the following year if you didn’t get the grades needed this year. During this extra time, you can do other things to boost your UCAS application, such as more work experience.

However, applying again after a gap year can be even more competitive than applying the first time round. If you’re resitting A-Levels to improve your grades, some universities may ask for higher grades than they required if you were not resitting. Also, some Medical Schools won’t allow you to reapply if you got to the interview stage last year. This means that reapplying for Medicine in the UK can be tricky.

Graduate Entry Medicine

Another option involves studying something else at university, gaining a degree, and then applying for Graduate Entry Medicine. Some Medical Schools even have spaces open for a small number of Biomedical Science students to transfer to Medicine after year 1 or 2 of their studies.

Choosing a STEM degree can keep your options open. You might want to search for universities in Clearing that have pathways into Medicine or Graduate Entry programmes.

It is worth noting that Graduate Entry Medicine in the UK is still a highly competitive entry route into Medicine, with less than 20 UK Medical Schools offering this programme. You will also need to consider the financial implications of student and maintenance loan debts when doing two degrees.

Studying Abroad in Europe

Of course, you can still become a GMC-registered physician while losing no time at all. Studying Medicine in Europe is a good option that bypasses the routes of UK Clearing, Graduate Entry, or taking a year out (or several) to resit and reapply.

This route is so popular that thousands of medical graduates come back to work as Doctors in the UK after studying abroad every year.

Studying at reputable, globally recognised universities teaching in English, you’ll be surprised at the standard of teaching and the potentially lower costs too.

Medicine Clearing Vs Study Medicine in Europe

The main advantage of studying Medicine in Europe over other options is competition.

It’s possible to gain acceptance into a European Medical School with lower grade requirements, granted you can pass entry exams which are more straightforward compared to the UK admissions tests.

You can also enrol in Graduate Entry programmes abroad that enable you to study Medicine for 4 years too.

Which European country is best for medical studies?

International Medical Schools in countries like Bulgaria, Romania and Latvia are open to all English-speaking students and welcome individuals who were turned down or overlooked in the UK due to lower grades or intense competition. For students who missed out on an offer at home, these are all safe bets that offer good quality tuition and clinical training.

The course is taught completely in English and the degree is fully recognised worldwide. As such, practising Medicine in the UK after the degree would not be a problem at all. Many graduates from European Medical Schools have successfully started their careers in the NHS. There are hundred of Doctors graduating yearly, meaning that studying Medicine abroad is a proven pathway to fulfilling your dream.

Where is best for you will depend on individual preference and finances. Bulgarian universities currently have the largest number of graduate Doctors working in the UK, so it’s always a good place to look into.

If you’re interested in finding out more about studying medicine in Europe, check out the MedConnect Europe website or call the Clearing hotline on +4420 8190 0310.


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