University clearing: Can I cancel a UCAS choice after Government U-turn?

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THE A-level fiasco has resulted in thousands of students losing out on places – but now the Government U-turn means many will qualify for their rightful places. Can you cancel a UCAS choice?

The fiasco surrounding A-level results has prompted a screeching U-turn from the Government, after results produced by an algorithm designed to ensure grades were “as fair as possible” and consistent with previous years failed dramatically. Approximately 40 percent of students had grades put down, with many not being able to get into university or further education because of the marked down results.

The Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said he was “sorry for the distress this has caused” after a dramatic retreat by the Government over the system for awarding grades.

The change puts unbelievable pressure on universities to accommodate a new slew of students who suddenly meet the grades to attend place they were originally rejected from.

About 30,000 pupils who missed their grades have signed up to their second choice, and thousands more have taken places in clearing.

When selecting where to go to university and what course, students need to give a firm choice and a reserve choice in case they do not meet the requirements for the course at the end of their A level studies.

Thousands of pupils were told they did not get the grades to attend their top choice uni after results were downgraded using an algorithm.

The algorithm meant many students did not meet the grades to get into their first choice, and for many also their second choice.

It left many fighting for clearing places, which filled up quickly at a variety of universities.

This has now been changed, with pupils A-level results being decided by what their teachers predicted them.

The change means many who have now achieved their desired results may want to take up their original offer – but can this be done?

Can I change my university choice?

It is currently unclear how students will be able to go about changing their choice, especially if they have already confirmed they will be attending a different university.

Many places have already been distributed through clearing to those who achieved the grades with the algorithm scores, that would have belonged to those who were downgraded.

If you have your second choice university but want your first choice, you will need to contact the university to find out if there are still spaces on the course and what your new grades are.

The choice will be down to the university and whether they will honour places originally offered to students.

Mr Williamson has now lifted the cap on university places for this year, despite concerns about social distancing and coronavirus.

He said: “They won’t be fined and we’re removing those caps on every single university in the United Kingdom, so that they have the ability to expand the number of places, welcoming more students into those universities, as many as possible.”

Logistical and capacity problems are now entirely transferred to universities, who have to try and honour their legal obligations to meet their places, whilst also honouring their other set of legal obligations to enact social distancing.

Some universities have already honoured students who were given a conditional offer by still taking them through, and more are expected to follow suit.

Alistair Jarvis, chief executive of Universities UK, said: “Today’s policy change will mean that more students will have the grades that match the offer of their first choice university.

“This will cause challenges at this late stage in the admissions process – capacity, staffing, placements and facilities – particularly with the social distance measures in place.

“We are seeking urgent clarification and advice from Government on a number of crucial issues.

“Almost 70 percent of students are already placed with their first-choice institution, but those who are not should think carefully about their next steps, speak to their parents, guardians and teachers and get into contact with their preferred university to advise on their options.”

David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, said: “It is vital that information is provided speedily on how this decision will impact on higher education institutions, students wishing to apply through clearing and those who may have been rejected on their original grades.”

Can I change my university choice?

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