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On A-level results day 16 August 2007, UCAS launches a new advice service for students in the popular virtual world, Second Life.

The new UCAS island will complement information provided by the UCAS website and the Customer Service helpline. Professional advisers will have a presence on the island as UCAS avatars throughout Clearing, offering real-world Clearing and application advice to students.

“The UCAS island is designed to be a pressure-free environment where applicants can learn about Clearing. It also provides a forum within which applicants and existing students can interact,” said Eleanor Stevens, Senior Communications Executive at UCAS.

The UCAS island has a series of ‘bio-domes’ to house information for applicants, with the opportunity to meet UCAS avatars who will answer their questions. The area also has a performance stage where up-and-coming bands will perform. The island has a PG rating and is designed to be free from swearing, sexually explicit language or behaviour and violent behaviour.

There are also areas for applicants to meet each other, such as the beach area, where they can sunbathe, play beach-ball or take a trip on a pedalo.

“We wanted the island to feel like an open air festival; somewhere for applicants to relax and be at ease with what can be quite a stressful situation. By including recreation areas and music on the island, we hope we have created this atmosphere. All of the bands featured on the site are currently unsigned and have a link to UCAS, whether they formed at university or are members of UCAS staff,” added Eleanor.

“More and more young people now source their information and advice from new media, and Second Life provides an additional channel to support other more conventional communications. One traditional method that hasn’t changed, however, is that young people still learn a lot from word of mouth. The UCAS island aims to encourage students to meet up and talk to each other about common issues affecting them and their route to higher education,” said Eleanor.

You can visit the UCAS island by entering UCAS into the search box within the ‘places’ menu screen on secondlife.com.

If you would like to speak to a UCAS adviser over the phone about your university place, please call the UCAS Clearing helpline on 0870 1122211.

Comprehensive information is also available at www.ucas.com/clearing and from the new social networking site provided by UCAS Media, www.yougofurther.co.uk.

-ENDS-
16 August 2007

Press release issued by Trailblazer PR. For further information please call Natalie Wilder on 01453 828789 or email natalie.wilder@trailblazerpr.com

Notes to editors:

A spokesperson is available for comment.

More images of the Second Life UCAS island are available on request.

You will need to be signed up to Second Life to visit the island – this is free and takes only a few minutes to do.

This year’s extended opening hours for the UCAS phone lines over Clearing are:

Monday 13 August – Wednesday 15 August: 8.30am – 6pm
Thursday 16 August & Friday 17 August: 8am – 8pm
Saturday 18 August: 9am – 5pm
Sunday 19 August: 10am – 5pm
Monday 20 August – Friday 24 August: 8.30am – 6pm
Saturday 25 August: 10am – 2pm
Monday 27 August (Bank Holiday): 10am – 2pm
Tuesday 28 August onwards: Back to normal opening hours (8.30am – 6pm)

The top tips from UCAS if you don’t get the grades you were expecting are:

• Don’t panic! Over 38,000 people found places at university through Clearing last year.

• Preparation and research is vital. Check the Clearing vacancy service on www.ucas.com or the listings in the Independent newspaper.

• Contact universities and colleges directly about courses that interest you as soon as possible.

• You don’t necessarily have to stick to the same subjects that you originally applied for.

• It’s a good idea to contact the universities and colleges yourself - the admissions tutor will want to speak with you directly!

• Talk to as many universities or colleges as possible during Clearing. Don’t feel as though you have to accept the first offer you receive.

• If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it. Your school’s career adviser will be a good person to talk to – they’ve been through it all before.

• Remember to always keep your Clearing Passport handy - a university or college that is interested in you will require your Clearing and application number.

• If you don’t get the grades you need, it is still worth giving your first choice university or college a call to see if they will accept you. If not, try the same procedure with your insurance offer.

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