Coronavirus has created an entirely new education landscape for all and it’s causing mass uncertainty over student’s university prospects. It’s a difficult situation as it’s characterised by unknowing. We don’t know when things will go back to normal and what the state of world and country will be by the autumn term where some 500,000 students are set to go to uni.
For many, this has led so some serious questioning. It’s easy to question the future right now and wonder what to do, so don’t worry if this is you. Firstly, it’s vital you keep up to date with official information from the Department of Education and Ofqual, as well as your schools and uni choices. If there are any delays to uni courses in autumn then these are the first places that will let you know.
I’m Confused About My Choices
Many students are wondering about whether or not they want to go uni in 2020 and universities are braced for much lower admissions rates. This is compounded by the fact that exams are cancelled and students will instead be receiving grades calculated from their existing work. This may not suit everyone and resits are an option in autumn or summer 2021 if your grades don’t meet your expectations.
Going forward, you have 4 main choices here:
- Stick to your Choices
Universities have been instructed not to pressure students in firming choices early so you can leave them open for longer than usual. If you’re happy to keep your choices as they are then hopefully, by the autumn term, uni will proceed in some form, either as normal or via distanced learning at first. At the moment, it’s impossible to predict what (if any) elements of uni will be affected.
- Change your Choices
You may want to change your choices partially or totally and you can do this through UCAS Extra which is open now. The deadline is July the 5th, so you’ve got some time to think. This might suit those that want to change their education or career direction, or want to apply to universities closer to home, etc.
UCAS Extra is suitable if:
- You used all of your 5 UCAS choices (if you didn’t then you can add more before June 30th)
- Have changed your mind about offers or declined them, or haven’t yet been made offers
One thing to be aware of is that student numbers will be limited more heavily this year, the government has sought to cap them to reduce crowding. Some courses, e.g. medicine and biology, maybe increasingly subscribed also.
You may also be considering changing your choices to an online course or degree. Online courses are already offered by many major unis and are equivalent in commitment and difficulty to normal degrees, resulting in the same qualifications. You also have the option of studying on Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) which are non-degree but highly credible flexible courses that use self-paced learning. You can search these via FutureLearn, many have been developed in conjunction with leading unis and organisations including Harvard, Loughborough and MIT.
- Defer a year
Deferral may be best for those who are very worried about uni this year and want more time to prepare and consider their options. Those in higher-risk categories for coronavirus should consider this if they’re concerned about autumn induction. Deferral is pretty simple and you can retain your choices until next year. Gap years are as popular as ever and if you were on the fence, maybe now is the ideal time to make your mind up to take one.
- Change Direction
Some may decide to put uni on the backburner for now and concentrate on other things. In this case, you may as well defer just in case you do want to go uni in 2021, it’ll cost you nothing to do so and it keeps your options open.
Clearing allows students to apply to courses late from the 6th July if they’ve received no offers or otherwise want to choose a new course without going through UCAS Extra. Clearing is a bit chaotic so it’s best to be prepared with ideas so you can check clearing options at unis you wish to attend.
Overall, you have choices going forward so don’t panic worrying about your future and whether or not your current courses are for you, etc. It’s a chaotic time and all we can do is wait whilst staying on top of the latest information from unis, Ofqual and the Department of Education. Always remember that there’s thousands of students in the same boat up and down the country – you are far from alone.