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A level students still setting their sights on undergraduate study

Almost nine out of ten undergraduate applicants in the UK have not changed their mind about wanting to start university or college this autumn.
Posted Fri 3 April 2020 - 00:01

86% of applicants studying A levels who responded to a joint UCAS and YouthSight survey said they were continuing with their application as planned, in light of disruption caused by coronavirus. 

Ahead of more details on how grades will be calculated this year being published, just 5% are currently planning on sitting their exams again in the autumn – however this may change as the cycle progresses.

Since most schools closed for all but the children of key workers on 20 March, official online sources are being used by students to get the latest information, with universities’ own websites (62%) and the UCAS website (54%) being the most popular.

Nearly two thirds (60%) of survey respondents have chosen their firm (first) choice of university, with the majority of those choosing a conditional offer – an offer that is dependent on achieving specified grades. Just over a quarter (27%) have received all their offers but are still waiting to make their firm choice, where deadlines have been extended to give students more time to make big decisions about their futures. Overall applicant behaviour in the 2020 cycle is currently consistent with previous cycles, with the expected number of new applicants each week, and no significant moves to change firm choices or providers, or to defer entry, so far.

Over half (51%) of respondents feel supported at the moment, but want more help. While 37% said felt fully supported now, this is higher amongst white applicants (40%) and lower amongst BAME applicants (29%).

Clare Marchant, UCAS’ Chief Executive, said: ‘Our immediate insight during these extraordinary circumstances shows students are keeping their sights on the exciting futures that lie ahead for them at university or college. With additional flexibility already introduced into this year’s application cycle, everyone should take the time they need to confidently make considered, fully thought through decisions. 

‘We are dynamically keeping students informed online, through social media platforms and personalised emails, plus our team are on hand for individual help. With fewer young people in the UK’s population this year, there will be plenty of places available and there is no need to rush, and risk making a rash decision. Clearing will also be a great opportunity to explore alternative options later in the summer.’

Josephine Hansom, Managing Director of Insight at YouthSight said: ‘Our joint research shows how attractive university remains, with students still aiming high and thinking about their futures. Having the right support is an issue for some though, especially those from BAME backgrounds.

‘The online information provided by UCAS and universities is rightly being prioritised by current applicants, though it cannot be underestimated the importance students place on the individual support they receive from those who know them best, especially in these trying times.’

Ends

UCAS Press Office

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Notes for editors

UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, is an independent charity, and the UK's shared admissions service for higher education. We manage almost three million applications, from around 700,000 people each year, for full-time undergraduate courses at over 370 universities and colleges across the UK.

Figures quoted as taken from a joint UCAS and YouthSight survey that took place between 27 and 30 March 2020.

Responses from 500 current undergraduate applicants from the UK, aged between 17 and 19 and currently studying A levels, have been weighted to be representative of the current young applicant population.

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