We use cookies to ensure the best user experience and to serve tailored advertising. To learn more about our cookies and how to manage them, please visit our cookie policy

Check our Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates
Applying to university

Coronavirus updates for exams and university applications

Together with everyone working in universities and higher education, we want to help you understand the current coronavirus situation and how it affects you.

Female student walking through a city wearing a face mask


  1. How the Complete University Guide can help

  2. Exams and results days

  3. Unconditional offers

  4. Starting university in September

  5. Deferring university

  6. Replying to offers: Deadline dates

  7. Possible cap on the number of university places in England

  8. Student loans and finance

  9. Links to official announcements

Results days for 2020 have been confirmed after exams were cancelled due to coronavirus. Universities have moved to online and remote teaching and are deciding how to approach current applications and teaching for students starting university in the autumn.

This has created a lot of uncertainty for students already at uni and those planning to start in the autumn. Together with everyone working in universities and higher education, we want to help you understand the situation and how it affects you. 

How the Complete University Guide can help

Do you have a question? Follow us on social, DM or post your question, or ask our experts at ask@thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk.

In the meantime, our advice about choosing a course and a university is unchanged: find the right course and the right institution for you.

Remember that universities make their offers on more than just your exam results. Universities and colleges want to support every student through their application and progression to higher education. 

Exams and results days


  • A and AS Level, BTEC, Cambridge Technical results will be published on 13 August 2020
  • Ofqual (the exams regulator) has developed a process to provide every student with calculated grades for A Levels based on previous attainment, course work and the grades teachers believe students would've been awarded if exams had gone ahead
  • There will be an appeals process for students, and an option to sit an exam later if you don't feel your grades reflect your performance
  • Calculated results will also be awarded for vocational and technical qualifications used for progression to university – these qualifications include many BTEC, Cambridge, UAL and IB awards

Northern Ireland

  • A and AS Level results will be published on 13 August 2020
  • Students in Northern Ireland will be able to use this year's A Level results for entry into universities in the Republic of Ireland, as confirmed by the Irish Universities Association and the Central Applications Office
  • The priority will be to ensure students receive fair and equitable results that reflect their hard work and enable judgements to be made about progression to study or employment or other avenues
  • The Department of Education will work with the Further and Higher Education sectors to ensure the arrangements that are put in place will allow them to operate admissions processes as efficiently as possible


  • The SQA aims to provide all students with their grades by 4 August
  • The SQA is developing an alternative process to provide students with grades for Highers and Advanced Highers, based on completed coursework, previous attainment and estimated grades provided by teachers
  • All students are strongly encouraged to sign up to MySQA


  • A and AS Level results will be published on 13 August 2020
  • Grades for A Levels will be calculated using a range of evidence, including work already completed and standardised teacher-assessed grades – what your teachers think you'd have achieved if exams had gone ahead

Other exam boards

  • Exam regulators are working with organisations offering qualifications such as BTEC and IB – the intention is to supply grades for all students, whatever exams they were entered for

Unconditional offers

England, Northern Ireland and Wales

The temporary ban on universities making unconditional offers has now been lifted. Universities are still expected to act in the best interests of students as unconditional offers during this period of uncertainty may put pressure on them to accept a course that's not the best for them.


Scottish universities and colleges may continue to make unconditional offers.

Find out about unconditional offers and how to reply.

Starting university in September

Universities in the UK have begun to indicate their plans for students arriving or returning in September or October. All unis will, if they haven't already, let all offer holders know of their plans. 

Most universities have mentioned they will be approaching Semester One with a blended teaching model, with large classes and lectures staying online and other smaller and more manageable groups returning to face-to-face. However, each university is different, so check individual websites for more information. 

Deferring university

It may be tempting to defer starting university in the autumn due to the current pandemic, but make sure you think about every aspect and what deferring your university place will actually mean. Universities may start capping the amount of students who apply for deferrals, and disruption may only last for the first semester. 

Read more information on the pros and cons of deferring on our dedicated page.

Replying to offers: Deadline dates

The deadlines for replying to offers have been extended, depending on when UCAS gets the last decision from your chosen universities. The new deadline is 18 June (if all your university decisions were received by 4 June). If you received decisions on or before 13 July (including UCAS Extra), then you have until 20 July to respond. Check UCAS Track which will show your personal deadline and make sure you reply by that date.

Remember that universities base their decisions on personal statements and references, as well as exam grades. Please try not to panic and keep calm about your university choices. There is still a lot of uncertainty but, in the meantime, continue with your application journey, attend virtual open days and interviews, research your chosen subject areas and universities, and keep an eye out for emails from UCAS about your applications.

James Seymour, Director of Communications, Marketing and Student Recruitment at the University of Gloucestershire

Possible cap on the number of university places in England

A cap on the number of university places in England has been reported. This means universities in England will have the number of students capped at what they've currently forecasted, plus 5%. Universities in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will only be allowed to increase their intake of English students by 6.5%. 

Even so, you shouldn't worry about your application, or even your decision about university this year. Wait until all the facts are known.

Student loans and finance

You should still apply for a student loan if you're considering going to university this year (academic year 2020–21). 

The Student Loans Company (SLC) has published updates for prospective and existing students, and for those who have already graduated. This information is for students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. See the appropriate links below. 

The SAAS has published FAQs for students in Scotland, covering accommodation, applying for finance, and for those who are currently receiving student loans.

Read about university tuition fees and the financial support available.  

Links to official announcements

Related articles

Clearing student at York St John university

Clearing success story: York St John

Discover students' experiences of getting a place through Clearing at York St John...

02 Jul 2020
Becky used Clearing to get a place at the University of Salford

Clearing success story: Salford

Read about Becky's experience of getting a place through Clearing to study Zoology at the...

29 Jun 2020
University of Gloucestershire campus

Clearing success story: Gloucestershire

Read about Lizzy, Demi, Zoe and Sophie's experiences of getting places through Clearing...

30 Jun 2020

Is this page useful?

Yes No

Sorry about that...



Thanks for your feedback!