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How is Covid-19 impacting University Admissions in 2021 in the US, the UK, Australia, and Canada?

Coronavirus pandemic has brought a big change to how everything works. Due to frequent lockdowns and social distancing norms, university admissions have also changed across the world. Domestic and international students looking to enter the university in 2021 and 2022 are seeing a whirlwind change in how university applications are being lodged and how universities are accepting students.

Here’s a quick glimpse of how universities in major study destinations of the world have changed their admission requirements and procedures:

 

New application norms and procedures of the universities in the US:

 

  • The majority of the universities in the US have switched to a computer-based system for submitting new applications and their decisions. This, along with e-signatures and digital submission of supporting documents like transcripts, test scores, and recommendation letters has made everything paperless and easy to access at any time. Though there is an option for applicants to request a printed copy of their decisions, most universities request the applicant to keep the same as electronic.
  • Most of the universities in the US now follow a ‘first come first served’ policy for accepting new applications and making admissions offer. Applicants who apply early will receive offers earlier than those applying during the regular decision round. Even though most universities indicate that they will make admissions offers for the fall semester, most universities will only make admissions offer up to spring or summer.
  • This year, due to COVID, the marks in the qualifying exams have been awarded extra weightage to compare students across the world. This has led to a drastic change in calculation and awarding of GPA and also in weights given to different subjects and their equivalents. For example, in the US where math is compulsory for everyone, few universities take into account higher-level mathematics while offering admissions whereas other universities will only consider the standard-level mathematics for admissions.
  • Though many universities have not yet indicated the number of international students they are accepting, several universities have introduced new policies to cap or reduce their intake of international students. Universities are either capping the number of incoming international students, admitting them on a need basis, or increasing tuition fees for the incoming international students just so that the school receives the lost profits if any due to the lower number of international students.
  • Many universities in the US now follow a rolling admission process (where deadlines are followed in chronological order) and give applicants until May 1st to accept their offer of admission. Applicants can choose between round one and round two that take place in May, with round two being the final admission offer.
  • A majority of the US universities now allow international students to apply for financial aid and start applying as soon as admissions are made. Universities have set up several policies for international students who would like to study in their institution. The most popular among these is the F1 visa program that allows the student to study at the university of their choice.
  • Most universities now require international applicants to submit their test scores for either English proficiency or SAT Subject tests along with their core academic requirements. For students who are not able to take these tests, they can also submit an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam score instead of SAT or ACT test scores. This is to ensure that the student has an adequate proficiency in English before they join their program.
  • Due to COVID-19, certain universities in the US have restricted the number of applications they receive while others like Harvard and Yale admitted more students than last year. Universities like Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Columbia University, and Cornell University announced that they will accept fewer applicants for entry in Fall 2021. 

 

In many cases, universities across the world are now looking to build up their international student population as much as possible which is why they are admitting more students than before.

 

New application norms and procedures of the universities in the UK:

  • The majority of the universities in the UK have moved to an online application system and make admissions offer electronically. Applicants can track the status of their application using a unique ID that they receive during admission time.
  • Many universities in the UK, however, continue to accept applications under UCAS Extra until May 1st for courses that end in December. This is meant for those students who want to defer their admission offer by one year and pursue a gap year program or enroll in a course that doesn’t start until January or February of the following year.
  • Most of the universities in the UK now require international applicants to submit SAT/ACT test scores along with their application submission. There are a few universities in the UK that have exempted this requirement and will only require a standard academic transcript from their students. International applicants for financial aid must submit a valid English proficiency test score unless they are exempted from this requirement.
  • This year, due to COVID, the marks in the qualifying exams have been awarded in a percentile format instead of the old A-E system that has been in use for 50 years. The new system is, however, not compulsory and universities can choose to continue with the older grading system based on their preference.
  • The majority of the universities in the UK now admit more international students than before due to COVID-19. Universities, like The University of Cambridge, London School of Economics (LSE), and The University of Oxford, have admitted more international students than the previous year.

 

New application norms and procedures of the universities in Australia:

 

  • While most of the universities in Australia now require international applicants to submit SAT/ACT test scores along with their application submission, a few universities in Australia have exempted this requirement and will only require a standard academic transcript from their students. However, most universities require both an academic transcript and test score with or without English proficiency criteria. International applicants for financial aid must submit a valid English proficiency test score unless they are exempted from this requirement.
  • Many universities in Australia have been accepting more applications from international students since COVID-19. Universities like The University of Melbourne, Australian National University (ANU), and the University of Sydney have all increased their number of international students for 2021 admissions.

 

New application norms and procedures of the universities in Canada:

 

  • Due to COVID 19, Canadian universities have stopped requiring TOEFL/IELTS scores from their international applicants. The majority of the universities in Canada now require both an academic transcript and test score with or without English proficiency criteria. International applicants for financial aid must submit a valid English proficiency test score unless they are exempted from this requirement.
  • Many universities in Canada like Dalhousie University, the University of British Columbia (UBC), and Queen’s University admit more international students than before. However, some universities like McMaster University, the University of Waterloo (UW), and the University of Calgary have admitted fewer international students.
  • Students were awarded marks in the qualifying exams in a percentile format under COVID-19. The new system is, however, not compulsory and universities can choose to continue with the older grading system based on their preference. 

 

Should I go for online admissions to foreign universities in COVID times?

 

Yes, you should go for online admissions to foreign universities as it will be an easy and simple process. Colleges/universities from all over the world have started accepting applications from international students through the Internet. However, make sure that you apply well in advance as some colleges might close their application windows earlier than expected or there might be changes in the application norms.

 

Is it advisable to travel to other countries in COVID times for higher education?

 

Yes, you should travel to other countries for higher education in COVID times as many colleges/universities offer quality courses at affordable prices. However, make sure that the country you want to study in does not restrict immigration or has any other restrictions on student visas.

 

Will COVID affect my college admissions status?

 

It will not affect your college admissions status as long as you are already enrolled in high school. If you take care of your academics and maintain your grades, you will be surely considered for admissions to different colleges/universities.

The courses offered by colleges are changing because of COVID-19. Make sure that you keep yourself updated with the latest course information and also check if your college offers the courses of your interest.

 

Are student accommodations accepting new students?

 

Yes, most student accommodations are accepting new students, especially in COVID times. However, make sure that you apply well in advance as the availability of student accommodations is limited and the majority of them are fully booked before admissions start.

 

Will I be able to work as a student during COVID times?

 

Work opportunities have drastically come down in COVID times, especially for students. You can, however, apply for part-time jobs outside of college/university and gain some valuable work experience.

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October 25, 2021

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