A Guide to UCAS Clearing

The only reason I got into the University of Glasgow is clearing. I was not meant to go to a Russell Group university with my predicted grades. When results day rolled round, I had got into my firm and insurance choice universities but wasn’t sure if I still wanted to attend them so I decided to check out what universities were in clearing. I phoned round a couple of well known prestigious universities but their grade boundaries were still too high. When I saw a UofG place on the clearing list for English Literature, I though I’d be turned down again but decided to give it a shot anyway.

Reader, they offered me a place. I had actually visited the university with friends the year before and loved it but hadn’t even seriously considered it as the required grades were far above my own.

Then began the tricky process of getting my firm and insurance choice universities to withdraw their offers. They have the right to keep you as a student as you have entered into a contract. Fortunately they were kind enough to let me go, and Glasgow verbally confirmed my place down the phone. It took over 24 stressful hours for UCAS to update and reflect this. I was refreshing the website on my phone every 5 minutes, desperate to have the official confirmation. I had the fear that UoG would withdraw their offer and I would be left with nothing. I was down the pub with my parents, tentatively celebrating my results when the confirmation came through.

Obviously it’s far better to have your dream university as your firm choice months in advance of results day. However if things don’t go to plan, clearing is a godsend. I can honestly say it changed my life and for the better. I could never have pictured myself at this university but I’m so glad that I decided to be a little bit cheeky and try for it anyway.

If you think you might go for clearing then check out the clearing list in advance and figure out which universities you might want to go to. Some universities even have open days for clearing candidates.

At approximately 8am on results day, UCAS will show if you’ve got into your firm and/or insurance unis. Once you find out your results, figure out what you want to do and if you’ve decided on clearing, get on the phones. Find a quiet place and phone every university that you fancy the sound of. This might mean considering a city or course you haven’t considered before but do make sure it’s somewhere and something you could actually see yourself liking for the next 3/4/5 years. You should be prepared with your results, clearing code and an idea of why you’d like to take up that place as they might ask you questions about your motivation and suitability.

If they make you an offer on the phone, check if this comes with a time limit and how they would like you to confirm/decline but phone or email etc. Obviously this is a big choice you want to fully consider it but you also don’t want to let it slip out of your hands. If you do accept then you’ll need to update your Track screen on UCAS.

If you got higher grades then expected you can also go through a similar process called adjustment. This is pretty much the exact same as clearing, only you can keep your firm choice while you look around.

You can also decide to put off university for a year or not attend at all. If you decide to delay for a year then you can work and build up cash for a year, travel for a gap year or just focus on yourself. At my school we weren’t really educated about non-uni options such as apprenticeships, or going straight into work. Some companies like M&S or Deloitte have schemes aimed at school leavers that will pay and train you, a tempting prospect in contrast to tuition fees!

Good luck and congratulations whatever you decide to do!

[Rose Jackson – @ginger_git]

Top 5: Things To Do If You’re Staying Home This Summer

Feeling like you’re the only one not hopping around Europe or doing an exciting internship this summer? You’re not alone – but you still deserve to enjoy the time off! While we’re already well into the holidays, there’s still plenty of time left to make the most of.

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Top 5… No-No’s for Your Hoo-Ha

After some moron decided to create a lipstick that literally seals your vagina shut for when you’re *gasp* menstruating – I know, the horror – we took it upon ourselves to make sure the student population of Glasgow knows what they should and shouldn’t be doing to their vagina. I know, you’d think having got this far in life most people would have a clue, but someone thought vagina glue was a good idea so you can never be too sure.

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Dangerous Dieting

 

Even if you’ve never tried a ‘fad’ diet yourself, chances are you know someone who has. I’ve watched friends suffer through unpalatable shakes, weekly fasts, and questionable ‘natural’ medications. All of these people are intelligent and successful, so what is it about the £2bn UK dieting industry which makes them buy into it again and again? The grip which the dieting industry has on us is perhaps stronger than ever, as developments in social media mean we are constantly bombarded with images of what we should look like, as well as advertisements for “miracle” diets, if only we’re willing to part with some cash. It’s a dangerous business, and one that looks set to continue growing.        Continue reading

Not Guilty, Your Honour

I was skipping along Buchanan Street to Natasha Bedingfield’s ‘Unwritten’ last month, smiling because it felt like I was finally living out the opening sequence of scripted-reality masterpiece The Hills, albeit with less sun and more pigeons. Then my heart sank. I realised, in one panic-fuelled moment, that I had forgotten to do something really important.

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Can You Be Vegan Without Being a Dick?

Veganism: “the greatest social justice movement of our time”, according to the campaign group Go Vegan World. The website of the Ireland-based campaign urges its readers to give up all meat and animal products by making the argument that animal lives are entirely equal to human lives, and that our use of animals for food, resources and entertainment should be considered as great an injustice as if we were carrying out those same practices on human beings. To believe otherwise constitutes what some vegans and animal-rights advocates call “speciesism”.  

It’s certainly an evocative argument, and one that’s propped up by its appeal to universally recognised symbols of oppression, such as an image of an elephant’s chained feet next to chained human feet, or the use of the term “animal holocaust” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GgvB89AbHu4&t=100s) to describe the eating of animals. Unsurprisingly, the borrowing – or appropriation – of imagery and terminology associated with atrocities committed against minority groups of people is highly controversial, and it is as likely to deter people from becoming vegan as it is to persuade them. Despite the many compelling arguments for going vegan – such as environmental sustainability, and opposing the horrendous cruelty of the meat and dairy industries – vegan discourses have a reputation for straying into problematic and potentially toxic territory. Navigating this minefield is something that anyone with an interest in giving up animal products will have to deal with, and this is made harder by the fact that the various arguments for veganism touch on issues that can’t necessarily be resolved or condensed in a straightforward way.  

There is an undeniable lack of nuance in the speciesism argument. Why should it be necessary to claim that every animal life has the exact same value and importance as a human life, in order to believe that animals deserve basic rights and that they shouldn’t be exploited and misused by us? The speciesism line of thinking becomes harmful to disenfranchised groups of people by diminishing the significance of the struggle against racism, misogyny and imperialism; all of which have historically been used to oppress people by denying their claim to humanity. Moreover, the speciesism argument falls victim to its own paradoxical nature, in that it demands equality for animals on the basis that humans have no claim to supremacy as a species, but then frames animal rights entirely within human narratives, by equating the meat industry with slavery, genocide, and rape.  

On the other hand however, it would be misguided to overlook the ways in which the killing of animals is connected to the oppression of people. Feminist vegan theorists have been making the argument for decades that our patriarchal society mistreats animals and women and gender minorities using the same logic of domination. Carol J. Adams’s acclaimed book The Sexual Politics of Meat revealed meat consumption as an ideological staple of hyper-masculinity, and her arguments still ring true today. You don’t have to believe that a cow is literally equal to a woman in order to acknowledge that the same patriarchal structures normalise violence against both. The feminist implications of giving up animal products are wide-reaching, even if we do need to be wary of detracting from the fight for equality that faces many women and minorities around the world. This is why it’s particularly frustrating to see animal-rights organisations like PETA using the objectified bodies of women to promote their message through shock-tactics, because they are playing to the very structures they should be opposing.

Veganism should be first and foremost a radical movement; one that recognises the problems in our society, and looks for alternative ways of thinking and living that will benefit us all. It would be impossible to do this without adopting a critical mindset, and being willing at all times to question the dogmas that are put to us. This is what made Kip Anderson and Keegan Kuhn’s 2014 documentary Cowspiracy  so significant, because it was able to expose not only the disastrous impact of animal agriculture on global warming and environmental destruction, but it also delved deeper to look at why this “inconvenient truth” had been practically ignored and even deliberately glossed over by environmental protection groups and politicians. The connections the filmmakers identified between the erasure of vegan discourse and the reach of the global meat industry into every aspect of our culture and politics (including “green” politics), were ground-breaking. And yet this multi-layered argument for veganism, rooted in a powerful, anti-establishment message, is a far cry from the vegan arguments that tend to attract the most media attention thanks to their provocative, unsubstantiated and often harmful claims.

The fatphobia and body-shaming of websites that promote veganism, the vloggers claiming that periods are a sign of a “toxic body” and that it’s healthy and desirable to lose your period due to eating a raw vegan diet, and the offensive appropriation of experiences of racism for easy Twitter memes all reinforce the idea that vegans are sanctimonious, misinformed, and bigoted. While this is unfortunately true of some vegans, responsible and politically aware veganism is both possible and important. It requires us to question not only the structures that govern us, but also our own assumptions and biases, and to resist the urge to oversimplify a complex issue into easily digestible dogmas. It requires accepting that things are never simple, and that we don’t need to get it right 100% of the time.       

So yes, it is possible to be vegan without being a dick. But for the love of God, don’t go on any PETA marches.

 

[Cat Acheson – @cat_acheson]