2021 admissions: applicants told to ‘aim high’

Ucas and UUK move to dispel applicants’ concerns about applying for university in 2021

Students applying for university courses starting in autumn 2021 have been encouraged by Ucas and Universities UK (UUK) to be ambitious with their 2021 applications.

The sector bodies point out that there was no substantial rise in deferrals in 2020 – the number of UK students choosing to delay beginning their course for a year increased by just 0.1% (to 5.8%) in 2020.

They also stated that “universities will expand capacity on some courses to meet growing demand, where possible”.

Following an increase in students from disadvantaged backgrounds being accepted onto courses beginning in 2020, Ucas is this year also allowing teachers to provide more details on their students’ backgrounds, so that providers can get a fuller picture of an individual.

“Ucas and universities and colleges are already receiving applications for next autumn, with plenty of opportunities available,” said Clare Marchant, chief executive of Ucas.

“The key application deadlines remain the same, meaning the consistency and target dates that we know teachers value are retained in this exceptional year. As with all things, we keep everything under review as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to impact our lives. By applying on time, students will be in a great position to receive offers, carry out further research, and secure a place on their chosen course. They will also have clear targets to work towards in their exams and coursework throughout the year.

“Everyone involved in admissions is alert to the ongoing challenges posed by coronavirus and flexibility will be key. Last year, students benefitted from more time to consider their offers, there was a welcome increase in students from disadvantaged background achieving a place, and some of the most competitive universities increased their overall intake of students.

“With no substantial rise in deferrals, many universities planning to raise their capacity, and teachers able to easily supply more relevant information, I encourage students to aim high as opportunities abound for them.”

UUK chief executive Alistair Jarvis told applicants: “Choosing to study at university will open doors and provide value throughout your life. Despite the hugely challenging circumstances of this pandemic, students continue to show their resilience and determination and achieve excellent results at university, and I have no doubt that will continue.

“The application process continues to develop, with teachers able to provide more details on their students’ background than ever before, and universities have taken steps to ensure that, while taking a blended teaching and learning approach, opportunities remain engaging and interactive.

“When choosing to apply, applicants should explore a range of options, speak to their parents, guardians and teachers, and get in to contact with university support teams to ask questions about the experience on offer. They are there to support you to make the choice that best suits you.”

Insight from recent Ucas surveys suggests that young people:

  • want more online information than in previous years to make their choices
  • are particularly interested in graduate employment rates to ‘recession-proof’ their degrees
  • are less interested in staying at home to study
  • are overall feeling positive about applying to study at university in 2021

Deadline for applications to the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, plus medicine, dentistry, and veterinary courses close on Thursday 15 October. The deadline for ‘equal consideration’ for all other courses is 15 January 2021.

Clare Marchant of Ucas and Alistair Jarvis of UUK will be providing help and advice to applicants, teachers and parents as part of a special Facebook Live event, hosted by Ucas, on Tuesday 20 October at 4.30pm.

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