UK: Coronavirus: What’s happening with university admissions?

UK/ 19 August 2020/ Source/ https://www.bbc.com/

By Judith Burns and Ian Westbrook

Exam grades for students across the UK have been revised after a U-turn over grading systems.
Centre assessed grades (CAGs) from schools and colleges will now be accepted for A-level students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, following a similar change in Scotland.
This means many more students have met university offer requirements, throwing the admissions system into overdrive.

What should I do if I now have the grades I need?

Students should contact their universities as soon as possible to discuss the options.
If you had an offer through clearing and now no longer want it, you should also talk to the university.
Schools and colleges will also be able to advise.

Will universities have space for all the extra students?

Many universities will be able to accept extra students, particularly now the government has withdrawn its cap on the numbers each institution can admit.
But there could be logistical problems at some oversubscribed universities.
Simply put – will there be enough space, accommodation, lab equipment and staff – from academics to cleaners?
And this problem is likely to be even more acute, given the need for social distancing and extra hygiene.
A few universities have said they will honour all their offers – but for others it’s not so easy.
Worcester College, OxfordIMAGE COPYRIGHTMIKE LEGEND
image captionWorcester College, Oxford will honour all offers – but some institutions will find it harder
University of Oxford says it will update offer holders as soon as it can, and added: “We will need to ensure we minimise the risk to the health of our staff and students caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, whilst also protecting the quality and the personalised nature of our teaching.
“We are now working to ensure everyone who has met their offer conditions… can be admitted either this year or next.”
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Are universities legally obliged to uphold their offers?

The answer seems to be that once a student has got the grades stipulated in a university’s offer, there is a contract, and by law the university has to honour it.
Mary Curnock Cook, former boss of university admissions service, Ucas told the BBC it would be “incredibly difficult for universities to row back at this stage”.
When universities make an offer which is conditional on grade achievement, “they’re contractually obliged to accept those students who meet the conditions”.

Will this have a knock-on effect next year?

With many more offer holders meeting their grades than normal, some universities could seek to fulfil their contractual obligations by asking students to defer until 2021.
But population fluctuations mean there is currently a dip in the number of 18-year-olds.
So some universities could accommodate more students, particularly if they ask some to start next year.
Some students had already considered doing this, with much teaching being online because of coronavirus.
A University and College Union survey found more than one in five could defer going to university this year.

Will universities be open as normal in September?

There are 137 universities in the UK, and 89 out of 92 of those which replied to a Universities UK survey will provide some in-person teaching next term,
This will be part of a “blended approach” to teaching and learning, with many universities announcing that lectures will be given online.
You need to contact individual universities or check their websites to find out what they have decided.

Will universities charge full tuition fees?

The government says university students in England must still pay full tuition fees even if their courses are taught online.
The maximum UK university tuition fee is £9,250 a year, which is totally covered by a student loan, although international students may pay more.
Scottish and European Union students pay no tuition fees for attending a university in Scotland.

What about accommodation costs?

Accommodation costs can vary, but usually run into several thousand pounds.
Maintenance loans for living costs are means-tested, so you must make up the difference.
Some students had their accommodation fees removed for the cancelled summer term, but others had to pay, even though they were unable to stay at university.
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