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Prospective University Students - To Accept Or Defer?


The coronavirus pandemic has affected all aspects of our day-to-day lives and this has particularly affected university students.  The effect spans out to prospective students, current students and those students who are due to graduate this year.

Our higher education solicitors have therefore considered the impact that the pandemic may have on prospective students.


Prospective Students

It has been widely reported that many sixth-form students are concerned about the potential learning experience they will be offered if they accept a place at university this year. This is particularly pressing given that many students will need to confirm their choice of university by 18.06.2020.

There have been reports of universities amending 30,000 conditional offers to unconditional offers following the coronavirus pandemic. However, the Office for Students is now seeking the power to control university admissions on a temporary basis. This will therefore complicate matters for prospective students given the level of uncertainty surrounding their offers and standard of service that will be offered if they are offered and accept a place.


Standard of Services

Given the recent circumstances, can these universities confirm and deliver the level of service that these students should expect? Will remote learning or assessments be suitable for the subject matter? Will the University be able to provide reasonable adjustments for prospective disabled students? These are only a handful of questions and issues that our higher education solicitors expect will be in the minds of many students.

Our University Lawyers appreciate that distance/online learning will particularly affect students who rely on practical learning/assessments including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Medical students – may be unable to complete/commence practical placements;
  • Music students – may be unable to undertake group practice and assessments;
  • Teaching students – may be unable to complete teaching placements;
  • Drama students – may be unable to partake in group activities or assessments;
  • Science and Engineering students – may be unable to undertake practical or laboratory work.

Students pay a significant sum each year for university fees each year; particularly international students. However, will the requested fees be reasonable and fair given that some students may potentially receive a second rate service?

A survey undertaken by the London Economics found that over 25% of students would consider deferring their studies if their university of choice were not operating as usual during the first term in autumn 2020.  There are a number of universities that are currently providing online resources for students and undertaking alternative means of assessment. However, this may not be a suitable means to deliver courses to all students.

The current position leaves many prospective students uncertain as to the quality of services that they would receive if they enrolled in the autumn 2020 term. As such, our Further Education solicitors understand that this will be a very difficult decision for prospective students to make, particularly where Universities have not made it clear about how they intend to deliver certain courses. 

Our higher education expert legal team are happy to discuss potential options and provide expert legal advice to students during these uncertain times.


Our Services

Our experienced Higher Education lawyers are able to assist students with the following:

  • University complaints;
  • Academic appeals;
  • Mitigating circumstances/extenuating circumstances;
  • Fitness and practice proceedings;
  • PhD complaints/appeals;
  • Exclusions;
  • Litigation – Breach of contract and/or discrimination claims;
  • Complaints to the OIA;
  • Student finance queries.

Our University law experts are passionate in assisting students through the above processes.  If you would like to discuss your Further Education law dispute in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact one of our specialist team of expert University lawyers.  Please contact us on 0333 202 7175 or contact us by email on

The information in this blog is accurate as of 09.06.2020.