Coronavirus: fear of UK university lifestyle change as A-Level results loom

Young people have serious concerns about societal changes Covid-19 has caused

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson poses with his arms out-stretched in a classroom as he visits St Joseph's Catholic Primary School in Upminster, east London, on August 10, 2020 to see preparedness plans implemented ahead of the start of the new school year as a response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.  / AFP / POOL / Lucy YOUNG
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Nearly a third of university applicants in the UK are less likely to begin tertiary education this autumn because of Covid-19, a new survey suggests.

And one of the most significant concerns among pupils are that grades will be lower because of exam cancellations.

The survey found that 30 per cent believe they are less likely to get into their preferred course, while 16 per cent feel they stand a better chance.

The research by the education charity Sutton Trust suggests young people have serious fears about the societal changes Covid-19 has caused.

The survey, of 502 university applicants who were questioned in July, was released a day before A-Level results are available in England.

Seventy-three per cent of applicants are most worried about the effect on their social life, and two thirds are concerned about a lack of face-to-face teaching.

More than half fear the possibility of catching or spreading Covid-19.

Only 33 per cent said they were "fairly worried" or "very worried" about leaving home.

Thirty-six per cent of working-class applicants and 42 per cent of applicants from Black, Asian or ethnic minority descent are worried about moving away from home.

Peter Lampl, founder and chairman of the Sutton Trust, said it was clear there was a huge degree of worry among young people applying to university.

“What is of utmost importance is that students from low-income backgrounds don’t lose out,” Mr Lampl said.

A controversial method is being used to calculate A-Level results after the cancellation of exams, including the use of a moderation system that includes past school performance.

There are widespread fears that this could unfairly disadvantage talented students from poorer areas.

“If these students narrowly miss their grades tomorrow, universities should give them the benefit of the doubt, given the upheaval in their education and the cancellation of exams," Mr Lampl said.

"They should be given a break given how much they’ve been affected by the pandemic.

“Many young people are extremely worried about what student life will be like in the coming year, and the impact of the pandemic outside the lecture hall should not be underestimated.”