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Game-changer 2020: how COVID-19 affects UK university admission process

What was it supposed to be like? Due to the quarantine measures that were implemented in spring 2020 throughout the UK sitting their GCSE and A-levels became impossible for students. The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) developed a new procedure for obtaining school certificates. A complex certification method was introduced. It combined a preliminary student assessment made by school teachers and a grading algorithm. This complex algebraic equation considered a number of factors: student ranking in the class by subject, school rating, etc. The main purpose of its creation was to maintain high standards for evaluating graduates in the absence of actual final exam results.

What was it like?

Instead of the satisfaction of justice that the standardisation model was supposed to provide, the Department for Education had to deal with rebellious students. A huge number of young people were devastated by their results and expressed their anger in the streets and on social media. According to The Guardian, the results of almost 40% of students were downgraded by the algorithm. The doors to dream colleges were now closed for many of those who would have been admitted if not for the standardised system. In August 2020, when A-level grades were announced, a series of demonstrations transpired, lawyers, taking actions on behalf of affected students. Teenagers made statements on social media, demanding real, not computer-based, justice.

How did it turn out?

4 days after the publication of A-level results, the Government decided to revert to teacher assessments that were now considered to be the most reliable measure of student performance. With this U-turn, the number of students that met the requirements of universities increased two- or threefold in a matter of minutes. In order to avoid more confusion and anger, even top universities had to offer places to all applicants they had previously rejected based on their algorithm grades.

What do we do now?

The pandemic and calculated grades turmoil gave a place at the most prestigious UK universities to a bigger number of students than ever before. It’s a great chance that needs to be used wisely. Lectures keep being conducted online at a big number of schools. There are on-campus seminars and consultations, but not in all departments. How does one keep up with their studies in these circumstances? A virtually unlimited number of places at colleges that an online format provides(professors do not mind giving an online lecture to 300 students instead of100) does not change the curriculum, making the study program any easier. Oxbridge remains Oxbridge. If you want to get a degree from one of the best universities in the world, you need to choose a better strategy than hoping for a temporary easing of admission procedures. What you need is a high-quality career plan that embraces both the current situation and your long-term prospects. Students that have managed to keep their minds right, not losing control in the times of global turbulence, will be the champions of tomorrow.


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