UK lockdown: Ucas application deadline pushed back to 29 January

Research excellence framework submission deadline still set for 31 March

January 6, 2021
Closed school
Source: iStock

UK admissions service Ucas has extended its main deadline for applying to university courses by a fortnight, following the closure of schools and colleges across the country.

The January deadline – the point by which the vast majority of applications are submitted – has been pushed back to 6pm on 29 January, Ucas said.

The move came as the Westminster government said that A-level exams would not go ahead this summer.

Clare Marchant, Ucas’ chief executive, said the extension reflected “the significant demands on teachers’ and advisers’ time as they move to online learning”.

“This additional time also allows schools and colleges to support students who do not have readily available access to digital devices to make arrangements to put the finishing touches to their application,” Ms Marchant said.

Ms Marchant added that between now and the deadline, Ucas “will be providing students and schools and colleges with additional support, information and advice to complete applications”.

“As we have done throughout the pandemic, we will keep students informed in relation to the announcements regarding examinations and how this relates to their application, ensuring they have the information they need to make their decisions,” she concluded.

On 5 January the Department for Education said that it “will not be asking students to sit GCSE[s] and A levels”.

“Working alongside Ofqual, the department will consult on how to award all pupils a grade that reflects the hard work they’ve done and will continue to do,” the department said.

This comes after the cancellation of A-level exams last year led to chaos in university admissions. When results were initially published, more than 250,000 results were downgraded from teacher estimates as part of a standardisation process, but the algorithm was scrapped after it emerged that it was likely to penalise students from poorer backgrounds. This left tens of thousands of students potentially eligible for an offer for which they had previously been rejected – and with that place possibly having already been taken by another applicant.

Alistair Jarvis, chief executive of Universities UK, said that vice-chancellors supported Ucas’ decision to extend the deadline.

“I want to reassure applicants that admissions teams are working hard to assess their applications and ensure decisions and offers are made as quickly as possible despite the additional challenges we all face during this national lockdown,” he said.

In a separate development, UK research funders said that they still planned to go ahead with the research excellence framework submission deadline planned for 31 March, but that they were “keeping a number of areas under close review”.

“This includes where the effects of increased measures for universities and/or significantly worsened rates of infection may result in individual [institutions] being unable to make the submission deadline,” an update said.

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