Schools shutdown creates UK university admissions uncertainty

UUK says students ‘should not lose out on opportunity to go to university’ after exams cancelled

March 19, 2020
Downing Street

Admissions for UK universities have been thrown into uncertainty after the government moved to shut down schools and cancel this summer’s examinations amid the coronavirus crisis.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson told MPs that officials were working with exam boards “to ensure that children get the qualifications they need”, after prime minister Boris Johnson announced the move on 18 March.

Universities make offers on the basis of predicted and actual grades in A levels and other exams – raising major questions over the impact for students planning to enter higher education this autumn.

Alistair Jarvis, Universities UK chief executive, said: “We await further information following [the] announcement that school exams will not go ahead.

“Students should not lose out on the opportunity to go on to university this year because of the challenges posed by the pandemic.

“We are committed to working closely with the government, Ucas, examination regulators and school leaders on the practical implications of this and hope there will be clarity on this for students, parents, teachers and university admissions staff as soon as possible.”

On universities’ immediate positions on whether and how to continue functioning during the crisis, Mr Williamson said: “We know that many universities and other higher education institutions are already taking necessary steps to keep their staff and students safe. We are confident vice-chancellors are making the right decisions and the Department for Education continues to support them in doing so.”

Mr Jarvis said: “The government understands that universities must continue some essential services and cannot fully be locked down given students living on many campuses and some areas of research that cannot be left unmonitored.

“Universities are particularly mindful of international students who are separated from friends and family and may be unable to travel because of the pandemic. Universities will continue to do all they can to support those remaining on campuses and keep them safe, and are regularly communicating with students and staff to provide them with timely and accurate information.”

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