As part of the NCTJ’s clearing campaign, we spoke with NCTJ students who had been through the clearing process themselves.
Freelance Sky News runner Naomi Greenaway entered the clearing process when she didn’t get the required A-Level results for her first choice to study English Literature at King’s College London.
Although she was accepted into her second-choice English degree course at the University of Nottingham, the 20-year-old realised it was no longer the right fit for her and wanted instead to study journalism.
She said: “I was always interested in journalism and, at the time, wanted to do a conversion course. I had missed the mark by quite a lot to get into King’s College London. I rang them up and they told me they couldn’t take me. I was really upset.
“Although I got into the University of Nottingham, I remember panicking and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do.
“I decided to take the risk and I rang the clearing phone number. They were really helpful and I had a chat to them about my options. I decided I wanted to go straight into doing journalism.
“I also knew I needed to look for NCTJ accreditation to tip me over the edge of my competitors.”
After applying though UCAS clearing and going through the interview process, Naomi was accepted onto the BA Journalism course at the University of Kent and is now entering her third year.
She said: “I know clearing sounds like a scary place, but honestly it was the best thing that happened to me. From the first day I came into the university, I have been really pushed to do my best and get out of my comfort zone. Now I feel comfortable going out reporting and being in front of the camera.”
During her studies, Naomi, from Basildon, has worked as an intern with television channel KMTV and has now joined Sky News as a freelance runner.
She said: “I really want to enhance my skills and I have recently had my first day at Sky News. I really love the set-up and am getting to grips with how it all works.”
Giving her advice to those who may need to go through clearing on A-Level results day, she said: “My motto that I have stuck by is ‘rejection is always redirection’. Where you think you are supposed to be is not always where you need to be. There’s always possibilities and opportunities out there. You can do it.”
Connor Steel, 21, from Glasgow, used the UCAS clearing process to join his preferred course – BA Multimedia Journalism at Glasgow Caledonian University. He originally wasn’t accepted onto the course but got in through clearing.
He said: “I did have other choices that were similar but, because of clearing, I got the opportunity to get into my first choice.”
Now about to enter his fourth year, Connor’s training has led to lots of industry exposure and experience – including stints with the Glasgow Times, the Scottish Football Association and Partick Thistle FC.
Giving his advice about the clearing process, Connor added: “I would recommend this as a route into studying journalism. If it wasn’t for clearing, I wouldn’t be in my first-choice university.
“Even if you feel like this is a last-ditch attempt, why not go for it? If you check clearing, there’s going to be something there that will suit you.”
Angus Dixon, course leader for BA Multimedia Journalism course at Glasgow Caledonian University, said: “We’ve had some students who have ended up doing really well on the course and in the workplace come to us through clearing, so I would encourage all students interested to apply through clearing even if they haven’t previously applied for a journalism course or have been initially unsuccessful.”
Holly Brencher, 20, is another journalism student who went through clearing to secure a place on an NCTJ-accredited course.
Over the summer of 2020, while awaiting her A-Level results, Holly decided against starting a script-writing degree in London.
Instead, she took a gap year and – just weeks before the course was due to begin – applied through clearing to join The School of Journalism’s BA (Hons) Multimedia Journalism degree delivered by News Associates.
Holly, who is based in Kent and now about to enter her third year of study, said: “It was the best decision I ever made. I was going through a stage where I didn’t know what I wanted, but now the NCTJ course is amazing.
“It’s not like going to uni or school, I don’t feel like I am in a lesson. I am in a room with colleagues working towards the same thing.
“It was a big jump at first but when I went into the office on my first day I realised this is where I belong.”
When she graduates, Holly aspires to write “deep dives into crime stories no one is paying attention to yet”.
Find out more about applying for an NCTJ course through UCAS clearing here.