Students left in limbo as university offers delayed
Scottish students are being left waiting to find out whether they will receive offers from their first choice university - while accommodation requests and funding applications for other institutions are already open.
School pupils who have applied through UCAS have not yet received offers from some universities, despite them already sitting their "alternative assessments" this week - leaving some unsure what grades they are aiming for.
Meanwhile, others are being asked to apply for accommodation at institutions where they do not yet know if they will take up a place, because they have not yet heard from their first choice university - while Scottish funding body SAAS closes for applications in just six weeks.
UCAS has extended its usual offer deadlines due to the pandemic - however some students say they have still not received all offers, despite the deadline closing next week. Usually students know where they have been offered a place before they sit their final exams.
Universities which have opened their applications for students accommodation require students to have accepted an offer before they apply – leaving many in limbo and at risk of having less choice as to where they live if they are forced to apply late.
One Glasgow parent, whose son is applying for a university place this year, said that the UCAS deadline for students to put in their applications had originally been advertised as 15 January but was delayed to 31 January after the post-Christmas lockdown – and the deadline for the universities to reply and accept or decline applications delayed from the end of March to 20 May.
She said: "It just seems like this is a perfect storm that's really having a negative impact on young people. What's resulted is that the deadlines for universities coming back to applicants has been moved. The unexpected consequences are that a lot of kids are still waiting for applications from some universities. They just can't do anything.
"Meanwhile, we're now at the point where universities are advertising the fact that applications that are open for accommodation. A lot of those universities won't accept an application for accommodation until you've actually accepted their offer, which again makes sense but it means that you could get into a situation where all these deadlines are just rubbing into each other.”
She added: "My son doesn't know whether he's going to be moving away or not: one of his choices was Glasgow, where we live and he's received a decision on that, but he's still waiting for Edinburgh, so he doesn’t want to make decisions until we've heard from them - the final piece of the jigsaw.
"SAAS have now opened for applications for tuition fees, so if my son is going to be studying in Scotland, he needs to apply to them for his tuition fees, but he can't apply until he's decided which institution he is going to - but the SAAS deadline [to get funding in time for the new academic year] is the 30th of June, which doesn’t give us a lot of time."
While some Scottish students will already have the Higher grades they need to meet any university offers and are applying from sixth year, others will be relying on the results of this term’s assessments – which this year are carried out by individual schools rather than being held as nationwide exams – for their places.
A spokesman for the University of Glasgow admitted there had been “slight delays” but said most offers were being made on schedule.
He added: “The University’s admissions policy published in 2020 is clear and remains unchanged, although there is some flexibility to take account of personal circumstances.
“There has been a large increase in applications this cycle, complicating and delaying decisions for some Scottish applicants to some degree programmes. However, the majority of pupils have received offers while others are in the process of receiving theirs.”
A spokesman for the University of Edinburgh said: “As of this morning, decisions have been made on all but a handful of applications from Scotland, with fewer than one per cent awaiting a decision.”
The university states on its website: “Provided you applied by the October or January deadlines, you will receive a decision by 20 May. We usually respond to most applicants by the end of March but the extensions to application deadlines have led to delays this year. We expect to have made almost all decisions by the end of April.”