uk university
Now that the UK is on lockdown, what will happen to your UK university offers for this year? Source: Daniel Leal Olivas/ AFP

The complete shutdown of universities around the world has undoubtedly shaken the expectations of soon-to-be undergraduate students in the UK. 

Many are caught in the web of COVID-19 confusion and questioning the stability of their offers for the 2020/21 academic year.

If you are one of those prospective undergraduate students who are anxious about the future – don’t fear.

The UK government has told UK universities to ensure university applicants’ admission for the 2020/21 academic year are safeguarded and no undue pressure to be put on applicants to commit to courses.

uk university

The UK is now on lockdown, but what does this mean for UK university applicants? Source: Isabel Infantes /AFP

Two week pause

To prevent your university from making any sudden changes to your undergraduate offer, such as changing a “conditional” status to an “unconditional” status or altering entry requirements, the Universities Minister Michelle Donelan has called for a two-week pause.

“We are facing unprecedented circumstances as a country, but it is essential that we create a period of stability for both students and universities,” says Donelan.

“We must also look out for students too, who in these uncertain times may be feeling anxious about their futures. I want to reassure students that we will provide them with the grades they need. No student should feel pressured into making a quick decision which may end up not being in their best interest.”

Exams including A levels, BTECs and other Level 3 qualifications have been cancelled in the UK. To secure students for the 2020/21 academic year, certain institutions have changed “a significant portion” of offers from “conditional” to “unconditional”.

Starting from March 23, this two-week pause grants the DfE time to work out admission arrangements with UK universities amid exam cancellations and pandemic panic. It will for further advice to given to students and providers about how the new system of awarding A-Level grades will work, and how the admissions arrangements will work.

Office for Students chief executive Nicola Dandridge has pledged to take action against irresponsible universities caught making unscrupulous changes to offers during this tumult.

“Many universities and colleges have been responding to the enormous challenges of coronavirus with innovation and ingenuity. But it is critical that every university and college puts the student’s interest first in these difficult times,” she said.

“So, I want to make it very clear to any university or college – and its leaders and governors – that if any university or college adjusts any offer to students, or make any unconditional offers, during this two week moratorium we will use any powers available to us to prevent such offer making on the grounds that it is damaging to students and not in their interests.”

The Universities UK Chief Executive Alistair Jarvis has called for the admissions process to be fair and consistent so that the universities value your performance and work efforts so far.

“It is important that these efforts are not undermined by inappropriate admissions practices increasing worry and pressure for applicants,” Jarvis said.

“We support today’s call and believe universities will respond positively to ensure that no student feels rushed into a decision at what is already a difficult time.”

What to do

In this current climate of uncertainty, the last thing you’ll need is increasing pressure.

For instance, you may still be wondering about when you can travel to the UK and when the first year of your degree will start.

The DfE advises against making rash decisions that could hinder your venture into higher education. 

uk university

The UK government is trying to stabilise uncertainty by safeguarding your university offers. Source: Lindsey Parnaby/AFP

Remember, if you do accept an unconditional offer, you will still be able to release yourself as part of the UCAS self- release process to explore other options during Clearing.

You can also reach out to international student advisors from your UK university choices if you need extra help or guidance on what to do.

But for two weeks, the UK university admissions process is still under review – so hang tight for further updates.

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