Coronavirus: Scots universities warned against changing entry grades

Scotland's universities have been warned against changing their entry requirements for prospective students after Coronavirus caused the cancellation school exams this year.

Exams have been cancelled in Scotland's schools this year
Exams have been cancelled in Scotland's schools this year

The Scottish Government has urged principals to stick with a moratorium on changing any offers to Scots pupils seeking to get into university or college, with grades still being awarded on the basis of course work.

Universities minister Richard Lochhead has also written to Scots pupils to assure them that they will receive their results on time and universities and colleges will assess qualifications as part of the admissions process.

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Mr Lochhead has stepped in after recent concerns that some universities across the UK had been changing conditional offers to unconditional offers amid the confusion of the exam cancellations, in order to guarantee student numbers next year.

Michelle Donelan, the UK Government Universities Minister, issued a moratorium earlier this month to universities in England on changing offers made to undergraduate students

Mr Lochhead has now warned Scots university principals in a letter that such a move "risks destabilising the admissions system."

"I firstly want to thank you all for not having changed offers to students, or participated in any activity that has led to the moratorium being necessary," he said.

"I am, however, writing to you in expectation that Scottish institutions maintain this position and observe the moratorium until 20 April, to ensure consistency with English providers.

“I am confident institutions will act responsibly and recognise that our shared priority now must be to ensure the stabilisation of the Higher Education admissions system, which is in all of our interests, whilst we collectively respond to the challenges Covid-19 presents.”

The minister has also assured prospective students that they will receive their exam grades in good time for universities to assess qualifications in the usual way.

Grades will still be awarded for Highers and nationals this year, but they will be done on the basis of course work and teacher assessment, rather than end of term exams.

“I understand that many students who have applied to university or college this year will be anxious that school exams cannot go ahead as a result of the impact of COVID-19," Mr Lochhead added.

"I am absolutely clear that we must ensure that the interests and life chances of our young people are protected, and that they will be rewarded for their hard work.

“Despite the disruption, students will quite rightly have their achievements recognised, and gain the qualifications and awards that they deserve after so many years of hard work.

“I am also confident that institutions will act responsibly, and recognise that our shared priority now must be to ensure the stabilisation of the Higher Education admissions system, which is in all of our interests, whilst we respond to the unprecedented challenges COVID-19 presents.”