‘Not the year for nitpicking’: UEA chief reassures A-level students over places

UEA's director of admissions Professor Richard Harvey. Picture: Richard Harvey

UEA's director of admissions Professor Richard Harvey. Picture: Richard Harvey - Credit: Archant

Worried students have been told “we will not be nitpicking” by the head of admissions at the University of East Anglia.

Thousands of students across Norfolk will receive their A-level results on Thursday and find out if they have been accepted into their chosen university.

The usual nerves are exacerbated this year by the early closure of schools and colleges and the absence of exams - all because of coronavirus.

Ahead of results day Ucas, which manages the university application process, has indicated clearing could be the “busiest yet” as students who may have taken a gap year will look to find a place via clearing.

More: A-levels 2020: When are results published, how do grades work? Norfolk student questions answeredProf Richard Harvey, academic director for admissions at the University of East Anglia (UEA), said he anticipated fewer deferrals this year but was confident young people would not face rejection if they did not get the grades they expected.

He said: “‘Busiest’ can mean several things – it might mean that there will be a lot of activity this year. That will be true – it will be high-ranked universities accepting as many people as possible. But those are people who have already applied to those places. Busy in terms of unplaced applicants – not likely.

“Students did think a lot about deferral at the start of lockdown but it seems their anxieties have abated.

“In my opinion they are right as, for most students, deferral is a bad option – what will they do instead? And they will defer to 2021 which will be busy as the demographics will produce more applicants and thirdly, and most importantly, I think the new-style teaching is likely to be excellent.”

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On Tuesday, the government’s universities minister wrote to all vice chancellors asking them to hold places for students appealing their A-level results.

“This is the not the year for nitpicking over details, “said Prof Harvey, “If we can accept someone – meaning we have space and we can teach them – then we should.”

More: A-levels 2020: Norfolk students should be ‘confident’ of fair gradesOn Thursday, UEA will be operating a call centre which follows social distancing guidelines, but many calls will be taken by staff working from home.

Applicants will also be able to speak to the university through online chat or email.

The university would normally have between 400 to 500 people working on results day.