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UCAS Applications 2020 During Covid-19: August Update

Starting university can be stressful at the best of times, but in the midst of a pandemic it can be incredibly difficult to get your bearings.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic making considerable changes to our lives, the UCAS Applications 2020 Autumn intake is running according to plan – with universities processing domestic and international applications already ahead of the upcoming semester.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic making considerable changes to our lives, the UCAS Applications 2020 Autumn intake is running according to plan – with universities processing domestic and international applications already ahead of the upcoming semester.

But what should you look out for – and how should you prepare for the upcoming application period? Here are five tips to guide you through the orientation stage.

How has Covid-19 impacted the application stage?

Despite the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, there has actually been an increase in UCAS applications compared with last year.

500,340 applicants held a firm offer for an immediate start in 2020, an increase of 6,000 from the 494,530 in 2019. This is of course good news for students and universities.

Will my classes be in person or virtual?

Whether your classes will be in person or virtual will of course depend on the university and the course you take, but anyone should expect a blend of on and off campus attendance.

Improvements in technology have led to more learning going online for decades now, a process which has been accelerated by the pandemic.

That said, the early stages of lockdown showed course coordinators how important it is to have an in person component of a degree – therefore modified tutorials along with exams and other assessment activities are likely to remain common place.

A study by Universities UK found that 97 percent of British unis will provide in person classes of some sort, although the total amount of online learning delivery is certain to rise. 

With infection rates fluctuating in different parts of the country, the best advice is stay up to date with official advice from your university at all times – and to expect the unexpected.  

How will Covid-19 affect international students?

Culturally and economically, international students have become an essential part of British universities – and as yet nobody really knows when things will return to normal again.

While this creates a massive financial hole for British universities, the situation is also uncertain for hopeful internationals who now also have visa issues to add to their list of worries.


If you are an international student intending to start in Autumn, check with your university and with your embassy to see your visa situation.

Several institutions have set up specific helplines for international students and they will be happy to try and answer your questions, even if the immediate future remains a little uncertain.

As the situation can change incredibly quickly, one option popular among international students has been to start the semester studying online from home before making a move, for instance when the infection rate subsides or when quarantine measures are lifted.

What about social events?

Many sixth formers had their A-Levels and proms cancelled as a result of the pandemic, so the news that freshers’ weeks are either cancelled or heavily watered down will be both unsurprising and disappointing.

Unfortunately, while university is set to go full steam ahead, social events have taken a hit. But while the typical orientation week events may have been pushed back, some will be continued (subject to distance and hygiene requirements).

Also, get in touch with your faculty, student organisation or clubs and societies coordinator to work out if there are subject-specific events that you can attend – even in an online capacity.

The same Universities UK study mentioned before found that 87 percent of universities would offer some form of in-person social activity, whether that be sporting competitions or other events.

Therefore, while things may appear a little different due to the pandemic, there’s nothing to say you can’t have a full university experience – both inside and outside the classroom.

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