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How will coronavirus affect my university application?

Making a Ucas application is tough at the best of times. But what if it's happening as the country is locked down as a result of coronavirus?

Making a Ucas application, receiving offers, doing exams, waiting for results. The process of university application is always an anxious time and the extra uncertainty caused by the closure of schools and colleges and the cancellation of exams makes it even more difficult.

But there are some positives and reassuring developments.

Perhaps the best news is that it’s expected that the normal admissions process will take place. This year’s system of teacher-assessed grades has been designed to avoid disruption to uni applications. 
Results days for GCSEs, AS and A-levels are two weeks earlier than had previously been planned. This is to allow time for students to appeal their grades if they need to, with appeals for uni applicants being prioritised to help you move on to higher education smoothly. 

A-level results day is Tuesday 10 August. GCSE results day is Thursday 12 August and Btec results are expected the same week.

Want answers from the experts? Check out our video for inside info about this year's uni applications.

Receiving offers 

Universities will continue to send offers and all existing offers will stand. But they have been stopped from making unconditional offers this year.

That’s because the government do not want students to feel pressured into accepting an offer because of worries about the process for deciding grades.

The education secretary Gavin Williamson has said: “We are providing the fairest possible system for those pupils, asking those who know them best – their teachers – to determine their grades, with our sole aim to make sure all young people can progress to the next stage of their education or career.”

Getting results

Despite the cancellation of exams, students will receive grades for all their A-level, GCSE, SQA, Btec and other courses due to end in summer 2021.

Grades will be decided by your teachers, based on how you’ve got on with your course. They may consider a range of academic work to base their decision on such as your classwork, homework, mock exams or additional assessments.

After results

For those students disappointed with their grade or who have missed the requirements for their preferred course, there are a range of options.
1. There will be a process whereby students can appeal against the grade they have been awarded. Every student has a right to appeal and there’s no cost to do so. Your teachers will handle the first stage of your appeal. More details of the process can be found in this article on our sister site The Student Room.

2. An extra set of exams are being planned to take place in the autumn term. Students unhappy with their teacher-assessed grades will have the opportunity to improve their grades by sitting exams - but only if they want to. 

If you are satisfied with your teacher-assessed grades, you will not have to sit any exams in the autumn.
Exam regulator Ofqual has opened a consultation on its proposal for how this will work. This consultation closes on Friday 9 April.

3. The Ucas Clearing process will operate as usual, enabling students to apply for places on university courses that still have spaces. If you miss your university offer, Clearing provides a way to find another uni place. Clearing opens on Monday 5 July 2021.

University start dates

It is anticipated that university terms should start at the usual time although there may be special later start dates for those students sitting the extra set of exams in the autumn. We will know more when the consultation results are announced for 2021 autumn exams.

These dates will, of course, depend on progress in combatting coronavirus.

Researching universities

For students wishing to find out more about specific universities, it looks like the lockdown will mean that visits and open days will not be possible for the moment.

But there are alternatives. 

Virtual open days

Most universities have moved open days online. Keep an eye open for these through social media or by visiting university websites. These virtual open days may include video tours, livestreamed presentations and Q/A sessions.

Virtual tours

These are often available on university websites alongside opportunities to ask questions and talk to current students.

University forums on The Student Room

You can chat with other students applying to particular universities and with students already there to find out what it’s really like.

Alternatively, you can research courses and universities using the tools here on The Uni Guide.

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