Queen Mary University of London

Crunch-time at UK universities

Clearing is crunch-time for UK universities

The UK university application process includes two intensive days called “clearing”. It is a market where students apply to join the best courses they can, and universities fill up any free spaces with the best students they can.

During these two days data is collected, and offers are made. Universities need to keep a close eye on their predicted student numbers. There are funding penalties for institutions that over- or under-recruit.

We commissioned Underscore to develop a recruitment dashboard for data entry and reporting during our yearly admissions cycle. The software they created was delivered on time, and is easy to use and fast. It gives us accurate intake predictions in real-time, hours ahead of the estimates delivered by UCAS.

—Matthew Evans, Queen Mary University of London

Complex domain

Clearing is not simple. There are a number of steps, judgement decisions to make, and different departments have different criteria and processes. The software needs to support, rather than enforce, the customer workflow.

Underscore worked with QMUL in the design of the service and took on responsibility for the full-stack and the staff training.

No opportunity for failure

The software not only needs to be reliable, scalable, and easy to use. It also needs to be extremely well tested, and easy and fast to modify in light of any situations that may occur on the day.

Underscore’s on-site support rescued us at a critical phase during Clearing, when a networking failure rendered our campus single-sign-on service inoperable. Their support team quickly responded to the crisis, implementing a standalone login and saving us from a potential crisis.

—Matthew Evans, Queen Mary University of London


The service is built on Scala, Play, Slick, and AngularJS. Underscore’s expert team developed the software and delivered it on the Heroku cloud platform. In addition to this remote development, the team met frequently with departments and designed and delivered effective training material.

This combination of expert development, training, and domain knowledge has delivered successful outcomes for the past 6 years.

We thoroughly recommend Underscore as a software development partner for mission critical application development

—Matthew Evans, Queen Mary University of London