UCAS, Rosehill, New Barn Lane,
Cheltenham, GL52 3LZ.
Message from the Universities Minister, Michelle
I understand the uncertainty that many of you who are planning to
go to university will feel at the moment, due to the impact of
coronavirus on all aspects of your lives. I wanted to write to you
and address as many of these issues as I can.
The Government is working closely with universities to ensure
prospective students can start and continue their studies. We want
to minimise the impact of COVID-19 on your ability to progress to
university and achieve your goals. This means ensuring that this
year’s admissions cycle faces as little disruption as possible and
Clearing goes ahead as normal, so you have every opportunity to
make the decision that is right for you.
When I previously wrote, I told you we had asked universities to
temporarily pause making changes to offers already made to
prospective students: this ends today, Monday 4 May. The
Government, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service
(UCAS), the Office for Students, and universities have been working
together and today we have announced measures that will empower you
to make more informed decisions about entry to higher
We have agreed with UCAS to bolster the Clearing process this year.
Whether you have a conditional or unconditional offer, you will
have the opportunity to change your choice once you have received
your grades. This will be supported by a new service that can
suggest alternative opportunities, based on your qualifications,
your course interest, and other preferences, helping you filter the
multitude of courses in a structured way.
In response to calls from universities, we have also temporarily
limited the numbers of students each higher education provider can
recruit, to ensure a fair, structured distribution across
providers, and deter practices which might induce you to make a
decision against your own interests. Providers will be able to
recruit full-time, domestic students up to 5% above their forecasts
in the next academic year, and the Government will also have the
discretion to allocate an additional 10,000 places, with 5,000
ring-fenced for nursing, midwifery or allied health courses, to
support the country’s vital public services.
I want to reassure you that, if you have accepted an offer, meet
the conditions, and decide to take the place, nothing has
On 16 April, Gavin Williamson, the Education Secretary, announced
that A level results day will remain unchanged (13 August). We also
recently set out the approaches to other Level 3 qualifications
of vocational and technical qualifications), and more
information will be provided in the coming days and weeks. I am
also pleased that UCAS has moved its forthcoming decision deadline
to 18 June. This means you will have more time to make important
decisions about your future, if you need it.
I will continue to work to make sure there is a clear and
supportive admissions system that allows you as prospective
students to make the best choice for you.
Those of you planning to begin your studies away from home may well
have concerns about the impact the coronavirus outbreak could have
on your ability to move into your term-time accommodation next
I am pleased to tell you that a number of universities and private
accommodation providers are already considering how these impacts
could be managed in accommodation contracts for the 2020/21
academic year, to give you confidence to make your plans.
I welcome the actions of many university and private accommodation
providers in waiving and reducing rents this summer, along with
their efforts to support and care for their students through this
difficult period. This gives me confidence in their ability to help
us all navigate the unprecedented circumstances that make the
future so hard to predict.
If you have already signed an accommodation contract for next year
and, because of coronavirus, think it may no longer fit your
requirements, you should talk directly to your housing provider. If
you run into problems, you will be able to raise a complaint under
one of the accommodation codes of practice, as long as your
provider is a code member: The Student Accommodation
Code, Unipol, and National
Residential Landlords Association.
While I am confident that consumer protections are in place to help
with your plans to move into halls or private housing next academic
year, it is still important that you carefully read your
accommodation contract before putting pen to paper.
Means Tested Maintenance Loans
Many of you will have applied for a Maintenance Loan for the coming
academic year, 2020/21, and some of your families will have seen
their income reduced in recent times. If you have been awarded the
maximum Maintenance Loan, you do not need to do anything, as you
will receive the maximum level of support as planned. If you have
applied for support, and have been awarded a lower amount than the
maximum, and believe your household income for the current tax year
(2020/21) will drop by at least 15% compared to the household
income you provided when you were initially assessed, Student
Finance England may be able to help. Further guidance on
eligibility and how to apply is available online.
Mental health support
I understand some of you may be feeling uncertain and anxious, and
it is vital that you can access the mental health support you need.
I have told higher education providers that this should be a
priority at this time, and many are strengthening their existing
mental health services and adapting how they are delivered, so it
doesn’t have to be face-to-face. Once you start your studies, I
would encourage you to stay in touch with your provider’s student
support and welfare teams, as these services are likely to be an
important source of support. As well as speaking to your
university, any student who is struggling can
resources from Public Health England, along
with online support from the
NHS and the mental health charity,
Finally, I was glad to be able to answer lots of questions that are
on your minds during the recent UCAS Facebook Live event. It was
great to hear your views directly and understand what the most
important issues for you are, so I can help to address them. I am
looking forward to taking part in another UCAS Facebook Live
tomorrow (5 May), so if you have questions about this letter or any
other issues, please put them forward and tune in.
I remain committed to helping you, as prospective students, to move
on to the next exciting phase of your life.
Michelle Donelan, Universities Minister.