Students will be given an extra two weeks to complete university and college applications following the announcement of partial school closures.
The Universities and Colleges Admission Service has announced an extension of its equal consideration deadline to January 29 at 6pm in recognition of the “significant demands” on the time of teachers and careers advisers.
The government announced on Monday that schools will be closed to most pupils until at least February half term, with only vulnerable pupils and the children of key workers receiving face-to-face provision and the remainder learning online.
It has also been announced that GCSEs and A-levels won’t go ahead as normal this year, although the government has not yet said what system will run in their place.
The UCAS January equal consideration deadline is the point by which the vast majority of applications are submitted each year. It was due to fall on January 15.
The organisation’s chief executive Clare Marchant said today that the deadline had been moved because “whilst the feedback is that the vast majority of students are on track with their applications, there is recognition of the significant demands on teachers and advisers’ time as they move to online learning”.
“This decision to extend the deadline is about relieving the pressure not only on students, but also teachers and advisers.
“We know from our data that most students have started their UCAS application and we expect to see the number of applications submitted by January 29 exceed the numbers we have seen in previous years.”
The move will also allow schools and colleges to support students “who do not have readily available access to digital devices to make arrangements to put the finishing touches to their application”, Marchant said.
However, she strongly advised students not to leave applications to the last minute if they are ready to submit now.
“Whilst students can in many cases apply to courses after the January deadline, applying before January 29 means your application is considered equally against all other students that submit to the deadline and gives students the best possible chance of maximizing the numbers of offers they receive.”
UCAS will also provide students, schools and colleges with “additional support, information and advice to complete applications”.
Universities Minister Michelle Donelan welcomed the extension, saying it was “vital students applying to university…have this extra time to carefully consider their applications and make the best choices for their future”.
Gavin Williamson is due to make a statement in Parliament today to outline the support that will be offered to school and college students.