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To Go or Not To Go? That is the Question…..

Updated: Jul 27, 2020

Debating whether to take up your university place this year? Fiona Mckenzie, our Head of Education, reflects on what the university experience will look and feel like this year and whether it is better to take up a place or to defer until next year.

To go or not to go? This is the burning question for most of this years’ cohort of students who, as they put in their applications in January, were eagerly anticipating starting at the university of their choice this September. However, things are looking somewhat different now, thanks to the covid pandemic.

First the facts….

Universities in the UK and the US are planning to open their campuses this year.

  • Large group lectures will mainly be offered online, but most universities are planning to teach small groups in person, adopting safe social distancing protocols.

  • Some courses will have more online content than others. Subjects that require hands on practicals, such as engineering, medicine and some of the sciences will try to offer more in person teaching.

  • ‘Freshers’ Weeks’ this year will be an online event.

Need advice and guidance about whether to take up a university place or defer until next year? Contact our expert Consultancy team on +971 44385276 or at

Reasons not to go….

Recent research from UCAS reveals that just over 40 per cent of potential students are considering changing plans because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic with 71% of students saying they would rather delay starting if it meant they would have more face to face teaching time.

  • With travel restrictions in place, for some students starting university this year being on campus will not be an option and if they are paying for a ‘university experience’ they may feel they would rather wait until they can have the ‘real thing’.

  • With the current uncertainty, some students will be reluctant to start in a new environment that they perceive as putting them at risk.

  • Many universities are considering ‘bubbling’ subject groups of students to limit social interaction between students, which whilst a sensible safety precaution could be challenging to maintain.

  • All the normal ways of meeting people and making friends, such as societies, sporting activities and social activities are likely to be severely reduced.

Reasons to go….

With the situation changing all the time, it is hard to predict how long any restrictions will last.

  • Although the first semester maybe online, there is a strong chance that campus life will return to near normal by January. So it could be short term pain but long term gain.

  • There is a chance that with some students guaranteed to defer, that spaces will open up in universities that were previously out of reach, so there maybe options to ‘trade up’.

  • Not all universities will allow students to defer. They may have to withdraw and reapply next year, and gamble that they will be accepted although they will be up against a bumper crop of new applicants and those who didn’t go this year.

  • Realistically, if restrictions are still in place, then it will be hard to fill this year with travel or work experience opportunities, so students may find themselves stuck at home anyway.

Ultimately universities are ‘their own bosses’ so while they will abide by the guidelines set by the government, they have the freedom to develop their own ‘pandemic roadmaps’. Here is some of the latest guidance for the UK:

  • Cambridge have confirmed that lectures will be online for the whole academic year but tutorials can take place in person and LSE are taking a similar approach.

  • The University of Birmingham will operate a dual system so students can start on line and join the campus when they can.

  • The University of Manchester will deliver online for the first term but plan to be back to normal for January

  • The University of Bolton have announced they will be running a fully operational campus in September supported by online learning tools.

If you would like any advice on Clearing, please feel free to contact us on +971 44385276 or at


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