You’ve finished your A Levels, Highers or BTECs and are nervously waiting to find out how you did. It’s worth looking into your options now so you can hit the ground running if the big day doesn’t go the way you hope. Results day is the most stressful date for many students. It may feel like disaster if you don’t get the grades for your chosen course, but there are options. 

Universities still want you – more than 50,000 students find their places through Clearing every year. Many more choose apprenticeships, internships, gap years, or go straight into work.  

How Clearing works

Universities fill spaces that are still available after results day via Clearing, matching students with places. This year the system opens from 5 July to 17 October. It’s operated by UCAS

It could be right for you if you:

  • Didn’t receive any offers
  • Didn’t get the grades conditions for your chosen unis
  • Rejected the offers you received and are looking for another uni or course 

UCAS offers a helpful Clearing Plus matchmaking service. It uses the information they have to match you to courses you might be interested in, bearing in mind what unis are looking for.

Missed out on medicine?

Optometry can be a great option if you originally applied for medical school. You’ll train to be a qualified health professional, examining the eyes to detect vision problems, injuries, diseases or abnormalities as well as general health problems. You’ll even learn to treat some eye conditions. Optometrists usually work in high street practices or in hospitals. 

Dispensing opticians

Dispensing opticians are qualified to offer the best advice on frames and lenses to suit your lifestyle and prescription. They fit and supply the most appropriate spectacles for you. Some take extra qualifications to become contact lens opticians.

Ophthalmic dispensing is a really flexible choice. You can study full time or earn while you learn, with part time courses on day or block release. 

There are various two year foundation degree (FD) and three year BSc courses available at Anglia Ruskin University, Bradford College, ABDO College, City & Islington College and Glasgow Caledonian University.

Many people study through blended learning – involving block release, distance learning assignments, in-practice supervision and examinations. 

At the end of the course you can achieve the ABDO Level 6 Diploma in Ophthalmic Dispensing (FBDO) qualification required to become a dispensing optician registered with the General Optical Council.

Find out more about becoming a dispensing optician.

Make the most of Clearing 

  • From 5 July, check the UCAS listings for available places.
  • Contact universities directly to find out if they will accept you. 
  • Add your Clearing choice in your application.


There are several different kinds of apprenticeships available in eyecare, allowing you to combine work with studying towards a recognised qualification. Find out more about apprenticeships.

Find a job

There are lots of different careers available in eye health. You could go straight into employment in roles such as optical assistant or optical lab technician. You can then go on to develop your career in areas such as management or study for qualifications to become a dispensing optician.