How will the virus impact the process for 2020/21 applicants & the grades ?

UCAS Applications

UCAS is working with universities, colleges, and the government to support applicants during these unprecedented times. To give some more time to students applying, they have extended some deadlines such as their May offer deadline for UCAS Undergraduate applicants. UCAS aims to minimise the impact on applicants and is opting for the same process as previous years.

  • If you’re holding a conditional offer – your offer will still become unconditional if you meet the offer conditions.
  • If you’ve already accepted an unconditional offer – this does not affect your offer.
  • If your application is unsuccessful – you can still use Extra and Clearing as thousands of other students before you have.
  • If you’re applying as a private candidate – you need to get in touch directly with the universities or schools, you have applied to. Be assured they will consider your circumstances when they review your application.

Find out more on the UCAS website here.

Standardised tests (IELTS, TOEFL, A-levels)


IELTS tests have been suspended until further notice for the COVID19 outbreak to protect the health of test-takers.  IELTS has launched a new online test call IELTS indicator. The Indicator test will be available in selected location and bookings open from 22 of April. They are also planning to hold additional test sessions as soon as permitted, to ensure that they have the capacity for those who need to take IELTS, as quickly as possible, for an admissions decision.  Updated information here.


Tests have been moved online everywhere except Mainland China and Iran subject top eligibility. The test is an at-home testing solution for the TOEFL iBT test for students who have been affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19). Monitoring of the test will be conducted using live remote proctors and artificial intelligence technology by ProctorU, the leading proctoring solution for online testing. 


The government announced the closure of all schools until further notice and clarity that GCSE’s and A-level exams will all be cancelled. Have a look at how GCSE’s and A-levels will be awarded in summer 2020 here.

University Final Exams

The race has been on for quite some time to find the best way to reorganise end of year exams for students so that it remains highly accurate and controlled. Along with teaching, exams have been moved online, and institutions face a challenge of organising online exams. The task has been a challenge, how to grade each student on their modules, some subjects are looking at predicted grades, while others are converting their exams to coursework which can be submitted through portals online. There is much debate about this currently, some medical students have had exams ultimately cancelled, while Cambridge, in particular, is in the spotlight where their students are debating different views on how best for them to be assessed this year. Read more here.

It is specific to each institution how and when they take steps to transition to the current circumstances. While all students must strictly follow their school or universities guideline, we are certain that we have to accept an unconventional method of final examinations for students in 2020. 

Some Universities summer assessment announced below:

University of Oxford: There will be no exams for Trinity term. The first-year undergraduate students will consider having passed apart from law and medicine. For the second and third-year undergraduate students’ exams will be deferred into the next academic year. The final year undergraduate and taught masters would be replaced either open-book versions of papers, longer pieces of work completed over several days, or a mix of the two. 

University College London (UCL):  UCL adopted a ‘no detriment’ principle which recognises current performance so far and ensures that academic outcomes cannot be negatively affected by the alternative assessments that put in place in response to this extraordinary situation. UCL is working to offer a modified assessment rather than cancelling to complete the academic year. 

King’s College London (KCL):  KCL has adopted “safety net policy” which means to ensure that no student will be disadvantaged academically by the impact of the current situation. KCL will put in place a range of ‘safety net’ arrangements to manage any negative impact on students’ outcomes. KCL has adopted an assessment format that would allow the students to complete the assessment remotely, such as replacing some unseen, timed exams with open-book exams, or alternative forms of coursework.

Imperial College London:  The College has established an education group with membership, including students, academic and administrative representatives to consider the impact of the COVID19 and the delivery of the education. The education group concluded this year summer assessment would be taking place remotely rather than cancelling altogether. 

The University of Manchester: The university has taken no disadvantage approach for all assessments. First-year and internal Foundation Year students will progress automatically to your next year of study. All faculties will apply no disadvantage policy, and all student should complete the semester two dissertation, coursework, and projects. 

How are universities in the UK affected by COVID-19 and what actions are they taking?

Universities around the UK mostly followed pursuit in following government advice and gradually implemented institutional lockdown measures while moving to teach online. Some are involved in the research, whereas other schools and universities face unprecedented challenges that they must make necessary adjustments to accommodate a large population in this crucial sector.

University of Oxford 

Oxford took swift but gradual steps to suspend assessments and move to teach online when adapting to the detrimental effects of coronavirus (COVID-19). The vice-chancellor sent a letter early March stating that an outbreak at the University was “inevitable” and that they have been preparing for this since early February. At first, vulnerable staff and students were advised to go home after cancelling/postponing Easter examinations. Shortly after Stage 4 of its emergency response plan was initiated, operations closed except some including the COVID-19 research laboratories that are at the forefront of global efforts in understanding the virus and to finding a cure. Follow their progress here.

More information can be found on the University of Oxford page here.

University of Cambridge 

40% of their students are international, and they faced difficulty in trying to get homes before flight restrictions. They followed similar steps to Oxford, leading to their lockdown, details can be found here. They are also at the forefront in understanding COVID-19, a £20 million investment from the University was given to the Genomics UK Consortium to deliver large scale, rapid sequencing of the cause of the disease and to share intelligence with hospitals, the NHS and the government. Aiming to capture the experience of the Collegiate University and the City of Cambridge during the pandemic, Cambridge University Library has launched a new collaborative collection.

Keeper of the University Archives said:

“In launching this appeal for material, we want to revive the shared enthusiasm for themed collecting which assembled the Great War Collection at the University Library from 1915 onwards and the more recent collection on our Brexit materials, launched in 2016.”

Queen Mary University of London

Universities are in a race to find the vaccine for coronavirus. Queen Mary has organised their medical students form years 1-4 to volunteer, and are working on ways to offer NHS staff accommodation. At Queen Mary BioEnterprises Innovation Centre in Whitechapel, they are offering volunteers £3500 to be infected by a form of the coronavirus to find a vaccine. More information, click here.

Warwick University

The University announced further details for the intermediate final year online assessments. All assessments will have a 24-hour assessment window to be completed taking into account the different time zones. They also have an extra 45 minutes allocated to download and upload answers through an alternative exams portal. Five different types of online assessment have replaced all exams. These include Assignments, open-book assessments, file-based open book exams, multiple-choice question sets and oral exams. Read more here. 

City, University of London

Most of the campus buildings closed on Friday, March 20th. Face-to-face teaching has already ended, and staff are continuing to support students while working remotely as they mostly take similar actions to the other universities. A research expert at Cass Business School has developed a model which pools the intensive care unit (ICU) facilities to improve care for COVID-19 patients. Find out more here. 

The University of Edinburgh, University of Nottingham and Newcastle University

These institutions have announced the option of early graduation dates for medical students who were supposed to graduate in 3 months. These students have passed their exams and completed assignments in line with the General Medical Council. After a foundation programme, they can fast track to supporting the battle against the pandemic. Find out more here. 

University of Essex 

 At first, the University moved all teaching online, but parts of the University remained open such as the library, shops and catering outlets. Following government advice, these also closed and have caused increased pressure on workers and student staff when cases reached 1000. More than 250 people have signed an open letter to the University of Essex in protest against its decision to suspend contracts for zero-hour workers as they are left without pay for the foreseeable future. Read more here. 

University of Brighton

They have also followed in the footsteps of other university closures. Due to their vast number of international students, they have published useful FAQ’s with visa related questions etc. here.