Following the Government's announcement on this year's grading system, we used our applicant mood tracker to see how this has impacted applicants' decisions about starting university this year.
Our applicant tracker, which is commissioned by our client at UCAS, showed us that there hasn't been a significant change in confidence amongst applicants, with many sticking to their original plans about starting university in September. But, that's not to say that they're not still thinking about changing their mind...
17% of applicants in our survey said that they feel less confident about securing their place. They also fear that their calculated grades will not be respected when they begin higher education or even further down the line, when they enter the labour market.
When we asked applicants about this year's grading system, 87% had heard about how it will work, but when questioned, 74% showed some level of confusion around it. The positive message was that nine in ten applicants think they'll still get a place and this was even higher in the survey once the system had been explained to them.
It's also worth considering that now we're in lockdown, applicants will be spending more time at home with their family, which means parents and guardians will probably have a greater say in their decisions. Only 1% of applicants are considering choosing their closest university, whilst one in ten parents are concerned about their child moving to a city or far from home. So, how influential will the parents' concerns be in their child's decisions?
In response to these new fears, UCAS recommends universities dedicate sections of their website's homepage to providing information that reassures each of these various stakeholders: applicants, current students and parents. Reassurance and clarity is the key to nailing your comms strategy at this time.
- 77% of applicants have been personally affected by the virus
- 1% are considering changing their preferred choice to be closer to home
- 30% have chosen their closest university (this figure was 31% in 2019 showing that location is not currently playing a large role in applicants' decisions)
- 11% of parents are concerned about their child moving far away
- 90% think they'll still get a place at university, 13% think they will not get a place because of reduced chances and 9% are considering deferring a year
Want to see how applicants' mindsets change as time goes on? Follow the UCAS webinar series to keep up to date.
We have partnered with our client at UCAS Media to bring this series of free insights to support HE professionals through these different times. The series will guide you through how your UG, PGT and prospective students are feeling throughout the crisis and what they are looking for from those around them.
Click below to see the full schedule.
Watch the first in the YouthSight x UCAS webinar series, focusing on how COVID-19 has impacted student and applicants' choice.
Webinar Recording: Awarding Grades during the Corona Pandemic
The second look at our applicant mood tracking data focusing how the grade system has impacted choice.