Most UK university applicants ‘still want to study this autumn’

Ucas says overall applicant behaviour has so far been consistent with previous cycles

April 3, 2020
Source: iStock

Almost nine out of 10 undergraduate applicants in the UK are still looking to start university this autumn despite the disruption caused by the new coronavirus, according to a study.

A survey from Ucas and YouthSight found that 86 per cent of A-level students were continuing with their university application as planned. Just 5 per cent said they were planning on sitting their exams again in the autumn.

Almost two-thirds (60 per cent) of respondents said they had selected their first choice of university, with the majority choosing a conditional offer, while just over a quarter (27 per cent) had received all their offers but had not yet made their choice.

The virus outbreak has led to the government cancelling A-level exams in England, with the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments also making the same moves on exams. Instead, teachers will be asked to make a judgement about the grades they think their A-level students would have received, based on a range of data.

Ucas said that overall applicant behaviour has been consistent with previous cycles in terms of number of new applicants each week and that, so far, there has been not been a significant number of students looking to change their first choice or providers or to defer entry.

Just over half (51 per cent) of students surveyed said they felt supported but wanted more help in the application process, while 37 per cent said they felt fully supported, rising to 40 per cent among white applicants and dropping to 29 per cent among BAME applicants.

The survey, which took place between 27 and 30 March, gathered responses from 500 undergraduate applicants from the UK who were currently studying A levels. The responses were weighted to be representative of the current young applicant population.

Clare Marchant, chief executive of Ucas, said the findings show that “students are keeping their sights on the exciting futures that lie ahead for them at university or college”.

“With fewer young people in the UK’s population this year, there will be plenty of places available, and there is no need to rush and risk making a rash decision. Clearing will also be a great opportunity to explore alternative options later in the summer,” she said.

ellie.bothwell@timeshighereducation.com

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