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Admission Rules Changes in the Impact of COVID 19 in the US, UK, Australia, and Canada

The COVID 19 pandemic has changed many things in the United States, Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. With lockdowns, social distancing, and a cautious approach to opening up schools and colleges and imparting in-person classes, universities across the world are adapting to the new world order. Naturally, admission schedules and processes have not been untouched by this pandemic. Here’s how different countries are handling university admissions this year.


Changes in Admission Rules in the US due to COVID 19

Coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the way our businesses, industries, higher education, and society works. The U.S. has introduced several changes to cope up with the situation. Besides, the country also had to grapple with social justice movements like Black Lives Matter.

In the field of higher education, U.S. universities have introduced many changes. They are using this as a chance to revolutionize the way students are recruited and make higher education more accessible to students. Some of the changes they have introduced include:

  • Many colleges have made standardized tests optional.
  • More virtual options are being offered to allow students to connect to their peers and teachers, and complete their tasks.
  • Holistic education is the focus now.

Those who are seeking admissions in U.S. colleges need to know the following:

  • According to FairTest, an organization advocating for reducing the role of standardized testing in college admissions, more than 1,600 U.S. colleges and universities have become flexible with tests. Some made standardized tests optional and some have implemented test-blind policies for Fall 2022. Limited access to ACT and SAT due to safety concerns during the pandemic led to these changes in testing requirements.


  • Colleges that have made tests optional allow students to decide whether they want to submit test scores with their application or not. Thus, if you have subpar scores on the test, you may choose not to submit them for the admission process. If you have a good result, you may flag it to add weight to your application.

Many experts think that test-optional policies do not work well enough in practice. Aviva Legatt writes in her book ‘Get Real and Get In’, that students should assume that submitting test scores is preferred. Hence, students should take the ACT or SATs and submit those scores with their application to test-optional schools.

Transtutors experts also advise that strong test scores can boost your chances of being accepted in your preferred school. Here’s a scenario:

Two students with similar GPA, letters of recommendation, and extracurricular activities apply to a program and there’s only one seat. Who do you think will have higher chances of being accepted – one with good test scores or one who chooses not to submit his or her test score?

Experts say that students with a perfect or near-perfect test score have higher chances of getting into college.

Taking the ACT or SAT is seen as an initiative by a student to prove his or her worth. Hence, highly selective colleges prefer students with test scores.

  • Colleges that are test-flexible allow students to submit results of other exams, such as Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate examinations. They may also allow students to submit other materials such as their portfolio instead of a test score.


  • Test-blind college admissions do not consider scores as part of the student recruitment process. If you are applying to test-blind schools, you can skip hours of test prep and pay more attention to other parts of the application.

Most experts at Transtutors recommend submitting your ACT or SAT scores to test-blind colleges too. They might not affect your selection process but they may certainly play a major role when it comes to scholarships to which you might be eligible later.

Some of the best scholarships in colleges are tied to SAT or ACT scores.

If you choose to apply without test scores, thousands of colleges in the U.S. might still be within your reach. Show them how you pursued your passions during COVID-19 and what work during this period demonstrates your best personality traits.

In their college admission essays, students are recommended to explain how they have taken advantage of all the extra time they had during the last two years. Anything they did differently or out of the ordinary should be highlighted. If you need help with writing college admission essays, contact Transtutors experts!

Right now, colleges are also reconsidering their policies regarding legacy admissions where family members of their alumni get an edge over their peers. A lawsuit against Harvard University showed that from 2009 to 2015, 34% of legacy applicants were accepted while only 6% non-legacy applicants were admitted during that period. It is alleged that legacy admissions give undue advantages to students from rich families over meritorious students.

Colorado has become the first state to put a blanket ban on legacy admissions in 2021. The University of Colorado Boulder ended the practice in summer 2020 – a year before the state laws were passed. California has also announced that its public colleges will end the practice of preferring legacy admissions. Ending this practice should make higher education more accessible to some students.

Transtutors experts recommend that students should present their authentic image in their college essays; present a clear, cohesive, and articulate narrative; submit letters of recommendation that back your statements; and apply for early decision application if they want to apply to a school with low acceptance rates.


Changes in Admission Rules in the UK due to COVID 19

As of 12 January 2022, the UK has approved many countries to its approved vaccine program list. Passengers from approved countries do not need to quarantine if they are under 18, or if they have received the complete course of UK-approved vaccines:

  1. Covaxin
  2. Moderna
  3. Janssen (single-dose vaccine)
  4. Novavax (Nuvaxovid and Covovax)
  5. Oxford/AstraZeneca
  6. Pfizer BioNTech
  7. Sinopharm Beijing
  8. Sinovac-CoronaVac

Except for Janssen, a person must have received both doses of the vaccine before 14 days of arriving in the UK.

International students in the UK can receive COVID-19 vaccines for free if they are at least 16 years old so that they are protected when they return home. Some UK universities have announced that they will reimburse testing fees and the cost of 10-day hotel quarantine for international students coming to the campus. Students who choose not to travel during this period need to inform their institution and get their visa status updates to cover the full period of study once they join back.

Many UK universities are opening up their campuses but hybrid learning is likely to continue. Digital lectures and online seminars may remain the norm in 2022. When students need to come to campuses, social distancing and other government guidelines are being followed.

UK universities are accepting applications as normal for January and September intake. Transtutors experts recommend students apply for admissions and scholarships as usual and consult them if they face any challenges.


Changes in Admission Rules in Australia due to COVID 19

With Year 11 and Year 12 students in Australia caught up in the coronavirus pandemic, Australian universities are amending their traditional admission policies. Due to schools closures, end-of-year exams for senior secondary students were disrupted. Schools supported students with their VCE and VCAL through online learning and delaying exams as well as deadlines of assessable work.

Queensland dropped one of the four assessments for Year 12 students to provide some relief to students and allow teachers to work better with reduced classroom time. New South Wales announced that the Principals will have more power over the number and weighting of assessments in the higher school certificate (HSC) exams.

The University of Western Australia announced that it will allow students two entrance pathways to its undergraduate degrees:

  1. Normal Australian tertiary admission rank, as well as
  2. Predicted ATAR calculated on the basis of students’ Year 11 results and special tertiary admissions test.

The universities in Australia are preparing contingency plans for admissions in the face of the unpredictable situation due to the pandemic. Swinburne University has entered into an agreement with the Templestowe College in Melbourne to grant pre-acceptance to students without ATAR and allow them to study a university subject in their final year of schooling.

Some experts are rooting for scrapping ATAR altogether and allowing students who have some form of pass-fail prerequisites to go to a university. The universities are using diverse pathways for accepting students. Admission processes are flexible and adapt to accommodate changing circumstances, students’ needs, and the needs of the community in general.

Australian universities are using a range of methods to identify students’ potential. Different universities are using different admission processes and timelines. Some of the ways in which you can seek admission to an Australian university include:

Most of the Year 12 students apply for a university course through the Tertiary Admission Centres (TACs) where they are selected based on the Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR) and other criteria. 

You can also apply for university admissions directly. Direct entry processes maximize the chances of students getting admission in their desired course.

How does ATAR work?

ATAR is a rank, not a score. It means that COVID-19 disruptions do not necessarily mean a lower ATAR as students are ranked related to other students’ performance. 

Besides ATAR, other factors that are considered by Australian universities include work experience, bridging courses, leadership and community service, previous vocational or higher education credentials, and other special achievements. 

Transtutors experts suggest that students should get in touch with the admission team to explain their difficulties and situation and understand all mechanisms they can use to their advantage.


Changes in Admission Rules in Canada due to COVID 19

As of January 2022, international students can only enter Canada if they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. It means that you must have received all prescribed doses of COVID-19 vaccines approved by Canada, which include:

  1. Pfizer-BioNTech,
  2. Moderna,
  3. AstraZeneca/Covishield,
  4. Johnson & Johnson,
  5. Sinopharm,
  6. Sinovac, and
  7. Covaxin.

The last days should be taken at least 14 days before traveling to Canada.

Canada is still processing study permit applications but there are delays by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) due to the impact of COVID-19. Earlier, Canada was allowing students to submit incomplete study permit applications if they were not able to obtain some documents due to the pandemic. But since January 15, 2022, they can submit complete applications only.

If students have studied online 100% of the time from a Canadian university, even if they have been abroad between Spring 2020 and August 31, 2022, they will still be eligible for the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). Earlier, special measures were taken to help international students whose classes got canceled due to the COVID 19 pandemic but now most of the educational institutions are operating normally.

For more questions about admissions to Canadian universities, speak with our experts!

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January 21, 2022

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