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WATCH: University admissions chief answers students’ coronavirus questions

Professor Richard Harvey, academic director of admissions at the University of East Anglia  Picture: UEA

Professor Richard Harvey, academic director of admissions at the University of East Anglia Picture: UEA

UEA

A university admissions chief has offered some reassurance to A-level students concerned about losing out on skills due to school closures and exam cancellations.

It remains unclear how further education places will be allocated after exams were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

What has been confirmed, however, is a calculated grade process that will take into account non-exam assessment and mock results.

Students unhappy with a calculated grade will have the chance to sit an exam as soon as possible after schools reopen.

Professor Richard Harvey, academic director of admissions at the University of East Anglia (UEA), said the cancellation should not put students off taking the next step in education, but that they should use their time to avoid sliding into a skills gap and falling behind when they arrive.

Prof Harvey said experience had taught him that A-level grades did not always predict how well people do at university.

“Having those so-called soft skills, like being able to take notes in lectures, articulate questions, and use data, are kilometres more important to get on and do well in most degrees,” he added.

“My advice is use the time you’re spending at home over the next couple of weeks, or months, to make sure you don’t fall into this dangerous skills gap.

“Channel your energy into developing soft skills you could need at university, rather than worrying about grades and what they’ll mean for you. It’ll put you in much better stead for wherever you end up, and doesn’t hurt if you do go down another path.”

UEA has a free massive open online course for pre-university skills, which includes ideas for revision skills, referencing, analysis and structuring thoughts.

Course leader Dr Harriet Jones said the few months before exams were crucial, adding: “Your revision becomes intense, you consolidate your knowledge and continue learning independently, so if students miss out on this period they could be losing out on skills that would help them in higher education.

“Studying at university is very different to school. So many students just turn up to a lecture, listen and leave. For them, it is not a learning experience and they can end up struggling.

“This year’s A-level students will benefit enormously if they take time to do the course, so they can get the most from their experience right from the start.”


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