UCAS update on COVID-19

Please see the most recent message from Clare Marchant, Chief Executive of UCAS.

Dear colleague

I am writing to provide you with an update on the activities that UCAS is undertaking in response COVID-19, and assure you that UCAS has the flexibility and expertise to support all audiences during this time.

UCAS set up a cross-business coronavirus working group in early February to identify and understand risks and issues relating to our services, review contingency planning, and coordinate communications and risk mitigation activities – this group now meets daily to ensure we are responding to the fast evolving environment, and are well positioned to support the universities, colleges, schools and students.

Most undergraduate applicants are already in the UCAS system. There are currently nearly 600,000 undergraduate applicants, and just under half are UK 18 year olds. The majority of these applicants will be holding an offer and have pending qualifications, such as A levels or Highers.

We continue to operate the admissions process as normal – we are continuing to support customers via our Customer Experience Centre and will continue to keep students informed of the latest developments via our established communication channels. For our customers, we are publishing the latest updates online in three main places:

However, with the cancellation of examinations across the UK, we recognise that the way in which students are accepted to higher education this year will be different to previous years. We are working extensively with the relevant government departments, regulators and sector bodies, such as Department for Education, UUK Ofqual, Scottish Government and Office for Students, to ensure that there is shared information and understanding as the situation developments.

I am confident UCAS has the flexibility to accommodate any changes to the examination awarding process. We will be providing further information about this once there is clarity regarding the awarding process and timeline. However, when reviewing how we can flex the cycle to accommodate the cycle, our paramount consideration will be fairness to students.

We’re also currently undertaking modelling exercises to understand how potential changes to the application cycle could alter behaviour in both the 2020 and 2021 admissions cycle. We will be able to share some of this intelligence in due course in order to support their sector with their own planning.

UCAS is ready to play a key role in supporting the sector to reduce the impact of the pandemic on admissions to higher education. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or would like to discuss further, particularly if you feel UCAS can offer you support.

Yours faithfully