A-level students not put off by coronavirus crisis, says Ucas

Survey reveals nine out of 10 A-level students still want to go to university

A new survey shows the disruption caused by coronavirus has not deterred A-level students from wanting to attend university.

According to the research by Ucas and youth market research company YouthSight, 86% – almost nine out of ten – undergraduate applicants in the UK have not changed their mind about wanting to enter higher education this autumn.

Applicant behaviour

The survey also found that, as they await news of how their grades will be awarded, just 5% of A-level students are currently planning on sitting their exams in the autumn

Nearly two thirds (60%) of survey respondents have chosen their firm (first) choice of university, with the majority of those choosing a conditional offer.

Overall applicant behaviour in the 2020 cycle is unchanged – with the expected number of new applicants each week currently consistent with previous cycles, and so far no significant moves to change firm choices or providers, or to defer entry.

When asked if they felt supported at the moment, 37% said they felt fully supported – this is higher amongst white applicants (40%) and lower amongst BAME applicants (29%). 51% of respondents said they wanted more help.

Students are keeping their sights on the exciting futures that lie ahead for them at university or college

“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,” said Clare Marchant, chief executive of Ucas. “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.”

Trusted information

The most popular official online sources being used by students to get the latest information, are universities’ own websites (62%) and the Ucas website (54%) .

“We are dynamically keeping students informed online, through social media platforms and personalised emails, plus our team are on hand for individual help,” said Ms Marchant. “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: “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.”

The survey took place between 27 and 30 March 2020, and weighted responses from 500 current undergraduate applicants from the UK, aged between 17 and 19 and currently studying A-levels.


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