FE minister offers reassurance to students

Scotland's FE minister, Richard Lochhead, writes to prospective college and university students about admissions process

Kate Parker

Coronavirus: Scotland's FE minister, Richard Lochhead, has written to college students to offer reassurance

Scotland's FE and HE minister Richard Lochhead has written to prospective college and university students to reassure them that their education futures are being protected in the current crisis.

In the letter, Mr Lochhead says that prospective university and college students will receive their results on time, and universities and colleges will assess qualifications as part of the admissions process.


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He writes: "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.

“The Scottish government took this action to prioritise the health and wellbeing of our children, young people and staff.

“While the protection of life remains our utmost priority, 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.

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“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.”

Universities are being urged to observe a moratorium on changing offers made to undergraduate students.

Mr Lochhead also wrote a letter to principals underlining the need for a stable higher education admission system. 

In it, he writes: "My purpose in writing to you at this time is to seek your support to ensure our sector continues to act in a way which maintains the stability of the university admissions system and ensures students’ best interests are safeguarded."

The minister's letter to principals in full: 

You may be aware of a letter issued by Michelle Donelan, the UK government universities minister, on 3 April informing higher education providers in England of the moratorium, until 20 April, on changing offers made to undergraduate students, such as converting conditional offers to unconditional offers or changing entry requirements. I know you will understand very well that this practice risks destabilising the admissions system, increasing financial uncertainty and volatility for all institutions at a time when universities are already facing significant pressures.

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. 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.

However, I feel it’s important to provide some reassurance to our prospective students about the admissions process at what is an extremely worrying time for them. I will therefore shortly be issuing a message to reassure applicants that they will receive their exam results in good time for universities to assess qualifications in the usual way; and to remind them that the Ucas May deadlines are being extended by two weeks to give students more time to make decisions about their future.

My purpose in writing to you at this time is to seek your support to ensure our sector continues to act in a way which maintains the stability of the university admissions system and ensures students’ best interests are safeguarded. I am aware that the sector in Scotland is already working with SQA [Scottish Qualifications Authority] and my officials to ensure that the admissions process works for this year’s applicants. I would like to commend you for that and my hope is that we can continue to work collaboratively on this matter in the coming weeks and months.

I would like to extend my thanks to all universities and colleges in Scotland for their support in dealing with these unprecedented circumstances.

Yours sincerely

Richard Lochhead
Scotland's minister for further education, higher education and science

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Kate Parker

Kate Parker is a FE reporter.

Find me on Twitter @KateeParker

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