Interview: what Covid-19 means for your university application

student working in library

How will your university place be affected by the coronavirus pandemic? We spoke to a uni admissions expert for an insider’s view

There’s no getting away from it: this is a strange year for applying to university.

Exams have been cancelled, meaning uni places will be decided on grades calculated by your teachers. Meanwhile, universities have closed their campuses with lectures and seminars moving online.

But, despite all this upheaval, hundreds of thousands of students will start university in the autumn. 

Here, head of student admissions at the University of East London (UEL), Rob Tucker, provides an insight into how one university is handling applications during these uncertain times.

How is the uni applications process different this year?

Universities understand that it’s an anxious time for applicants.

It’s a worrying time, but university admissions teams are here to explain, solve, and give you all the info you need to put you at ease.

Many institutions, like us at UEL, have expanded the admissions teams to give you even better access to the help, advice and reassurance you need with your application.

This means you’ll be able to use a range of platforms to communicate with us and stay in the loop.

When it comes to the application itself, the main difference you’ll find is that the process has now moved online.

Admissions were naturally going digital, but the coronavirus has accelerated the process across the sector.

At UEL, we’ve embraced technology to shift from face-to-face interviews on campus to remote interviews that are now accessible to even more applicants. 

We’ve even rolled out virtual open days and events to give you a taste of campus life without having to leave home.

What will happen to university applications if students choose to sit autumn A-level exams?

If you need to sit autumn A-levels then a lot of university courses will give you the option to start in January 2021.

You’ll also have the option to defer. 

We know how important it is to be flexible right now. At UEL, we’re working hard to expand the range of courses that can start in January to make sure everyone has equal access to study.

Should students defer this year and go to uni in 2021?

When you choose to enrol is a personal choice.

UEL – like other universities – is putting everything in place to give you the flexibility to start in September 2020, January 2021, or to defer your studies until September 2021.

Are universities going to be more lenient on their entry requirements this year?

You may not be sitting  A-levels this year, but entry tariffs are still the same.

We’re no more lenient, but universities are working together to make sure entry is flexible and fair.

At UEL we always assess the individual, so – alongside your grades – we’ll be focusing just as much on your personal profile and your ability to achieve and succeed.

Your personal statement, references and work experience are really important for giving us a well-rounded view of you as a person – especially for courses that don’t require an interview.

How will overseas students be impacted?

The impact on overseas students will differ from country to country. But we’re making sure learning goes ahead – and that everyone has access to it.

If you’re an overseas student worried about travelling to the UK then we’ve got plans in place to accommodate your studies in any scenario.

From online learning to remote live classroom experiences, you’ll get the support you need to enhance your learning whatever the restrictions.

How will online classes work?

Technology is already reshaping the higher education experience – but coronavirus has really accelerated the process.

At UEL, we’re investing heavily in a dual delivery learning experience that’s more immersive and accessible than ever.

This dual delivery model provides the chance to flex between on-campus and live online study, in a way that suits your circumstances.

You can expect a mix of online and on-campus learning that includes remote interactive sessions, recorded lectures, and the ability to share projects online.

This new approach puts you at the centre of the learning experience so you get access to everything you need to succeed in your studies.

As an added bonus, the new process gives you access to the types of digital communication platforms you’ll find in the workplace  – which means you’ll also gain the skills you need to get a head-start in a variety of careers, too.

student working in library

What are universities doing to keep students safe in class?

Student safety is the number one priority.

At UEL we’re following the UK government’s advice to make sure every student is safe, secure and able to learn.

We also understand that a hands-on learning experience is essential for some subjects.

In these cases, we’re making sure all the necessary safety measures – including PPE if needed – are in place at workshops, labs and studios in time for autumn enrolment.

Will scholarships or bursaries be affected?

Yes – but in a positive way.

We know it’s been a challenging time for many of you, and we know you need more financial support.

At UEL we’ve torn up the rulebook and are looking at scholarships from a new perspective.

You can expect to see more financial help and support across the sector as we try to make higher education more accessible for all students.

Is anything going to be open at university?

We get that going to university is more than just studying. You want the full university experience – and we’re doing everything we can to make sure you get it.

At UEL, we’re following the latest government advice to make sure our campuses are safe, secure and open by autumn.

You can also expect campus shops, bars and sports facilities to open in line with the Government’s guidelines – and with all the safety measures in place to make sure you have fun while staying safe.

Will students still be able to move into halls in the autumn?

Universities are working hard to make sure their halls of residences will be open by autumn.

At UEL, we’re assessing both halls and student accommodations.

We’re putting the safety measures in place to give students a secure living environment – even if that means less students in halls or shared accommodation.

About our sponsor

UEL logo

From this September, students at the University of East London will benefit from a dual delivery approach to learning. This model provides a first-class physical and online learning experience, with the option to flip between on-campus and live online study throughout your course. Find out more about dual delivery learning.

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