Applicants and offer holders (UK)

Starting your course

We want you to feel comfortable and confident about studying at Aston during these uncertain times. Our number one priority is the health, safety and wellbeing of our students and staff, ensuring that you have a high quality learning experience whilst undertaking your degree course safely. That’s why we’ve made the Aston Student Pledge to reassure you that we will maintain standards in teaching, support and openness.

All our new students will start their studies as planned on 21 September 2020, through a blended learning approach that combines both online and on-campus teaching.

Admissions

To meet the unprecedented challenges that COVID-19 brings, we have put plans in place to ensure that the University can continue to deliver a fair and transparent admissions service to all of our applicants. We want to reassure you that we are committed to ensuring that our admissions process recognises the hard work that you have put into your qualifications so far.  We’re working closely with UCAS to ensure that you will not be disadvantaged as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

We know that this is a very unsettling and worrying time for you and our admissions team and colleagues from across the University are here to support you. You can contact our admissions team or 0121 204 3030 (Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm GMT).

Further information

We have put together a guide below to answer some of your frequently asked questions regarding admissions below. We will be updating this regularly as we respond to advice from Public Health England, the Department for Education, UCAS, the Office for Students and Universities UK.

We know that many of you may also be affected in your personal lives as well as your studies. If you need advice on health and emotional support, please visit our health advice page.
Please note at this time our campus remains closed and we continue to operate via our virtual channels.

Information on Start Dates and deferring
Will I be able to start my course in September?

The University is continuing with preparations to welcome undergraduate students for a September start. See our current start dates.

The health and safety of the University’s students, staff and other stakeholders is of the utmost importance to us, so we will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation as it develops and will follow the government’s advice. We are developing contingency plans so that we are prepared, for example, to offer alternative start dates if necessary.

Do you have a January start for your courses?

We do not currently offer a January start for Undergraduate programmes.  

Can I defer?

The University normally allows deferred entry for most of our courses; if you defer entry this would mean that you would start your course in September 2021. If you wish to defer your place, you will need to request this by contacting our admissions team.  We are not always able to consider deferrals for programmes such as Medicine or Audiology due to restrictions on student numbers, but will consider requests for those courses on a case by case basis and will aim to be as flexible as possible. 

For students who are waiting for calculated grades in England (or similar forms of alternative certification in other parts of the UK) or for qualifications internationally, we will ask that you wait until you have received your grades/calculated grades (or equivalent) before deciding whether to request a deferral so that you can make the most informed choice. If you wish to defer once you have your calculated grades, we will publish further information on the situations where a deferral will be possible – and where it will not be - at that point. 

If you decide you would like to defer, you will need to contact our admissions team to request a deferral; you can do so by emailing ugadmissions@aston.ac.uk. 

You can find out more about what it means to defer your entry to University on the UCAS website.

If I take the exam option and improve my grades can I transfer course? 

Aston’s standard arrangements for course transfers will apply.  These arrangements are outlined on our student transfer page.

What will my learning experience be like in September?

We know an inspirational learning experience is important to you, so we have been working on an integrated offering which blends online and on campus sessions.  As well as the traditional set-piece lectures which will be delivered online, there will be interactive practical lab-based work, clinics and discussion groups, sessions with your tutors and with the Learning Development Centre and the Centre for English Language and Communication at Aston.  Our lecturers are busy planning sessions so that you can develop the skills employers value so highly, as well as getting enjoyment from your studies. Many of the sessions will be run on campus, provided it is safe to do so whilst adhering to social distancing guidelines, and the rest will be delivered in an engaging and interactive way online.

Lectures will be delivered online for the first term until at least January 2021. These are interactive sessions where there will be opportunities for you to ask questions and engage with lecturers and other students.  As part of Aston’s commitment to a blended learning approach, you will also be invited to attend a number of on-campus small group learning sessions and activities as part of your course. Academic staff are keen to support you with your learning, through regular office hours where you can ask specific questions, or via a Personal Tutor allocated to all students.

Our intention is to gradually phase in more on-campus teaching and support as social distancing rules are relaxed/removed and it is safe to do so.

 

Student Support Services
Will I be able to access student services?

You will also have access to a mix of online and on-campus student support and Library Services. We will expand this section and provide more details about these as we take account of the latest health advice.

Our Student Advice Team, Enabling Team and Student Counselling and Mental Wellbeing Service have moved to offering our current students guidance, advice and appointments over email, phone and Skype.

 

Student Life
Will the Students' Union be active from September?

Aston Students' Union (SU) is looking forward to welcoming new students in September. New students are automatically members of the SU and this is the place where you can join a variety of clubs and societies and starting making some amazing friendships. Of course, things will be a bit different this September, but as restrictions change so do the SUs plans for getting students together. We understand you want to have a great time and meet loads of new people when you arrive, and we will do all we can to make that happen.

The Aston Students’ Union (SU) operates a variety of services to support your wellbeing and help you settle into university life, and will offer a mix of both virtual and on campus activities during the academic year.

Earlier this year the SU set up a ‘virtual campus’ where students can connect and participate in a variety of online activities and events. Additionally, our Aston Auntie Scheme will partner new students with a current student who can act as a friend to introduce you to life at Aston. 

As soon as it is safe to do so, we will start to introduce on-campus events and activities to give you more opportunities to engage with clubs, societies and meet other students. Whether via the website, social media, or if you visit their amazing building, the SU is the go to place to enjoy the fun side of university and get the most from your student experience. 

Are there any updates about accommodation?

We know many of you will need residential accommodation and we’re working with our accommodation provider to outline how this will work for the start of term. Our accommodation has remained open for students throughout the pandemic and we are committed to supporting you to find accommodation where you can feel safe and part of the Aston community. For further information please see our accommodation FAQs or visit Unite Students.

Safety on campus
What measures are in place to keep us safe on the Aston campus? 

We have carried out a comprehensive COVID-19 risk assessment and we have established cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures in line with guidance. We are installing additional signage around campus to remind everyone of the need for social distancing and establishing one-way systems in some areas control the flow of people around our buildings where necessary.

Additionally, in areas where staff and students are likely to form queues, rails or tape will be used to encourage proper spacing and social distancing. Some areas may also have Perspex shields installed to minimise the risks of face-to-face contact.

Hand sanitiser stations will be made available at access points and everyone is advised to use these when entering or leaving buildings. Additional signs reminding staff and students to wash their hands will also be posted around campus.

For the latest updates on our response to the challenges of COVID-19, please visit our pages.

Accommodation and Student Finance
Should I still apply for my accommodation?
Yes, the Aston Accommodation portal is open and you can apply online. Please note you will need to have accepted your offer and have your Aston University student ID. For more information on how rooms are allocated and instructions on how to apply, please see our Allocations Policy and information page. If you have any problems or questions please contact the Accommodation Team.
Should I still apply for Student Finance?
Yes, you should still apply for student finance for 2020 – 21 as soon as possible. Undergraduate applications for Student Finance England are now open online. If you have any queries or issues concerning your funding, please contact the Student Advice Team.
Information about qualifications, conditional offers and interviews
I've got a conditional offer based on A Levels from Aston, but my exams or assessments have been cancelled. What happens now? 

We know that this is a very unsettling and worrying time for you and our admissions team and colleagues from across the University are here to support you. 

We want to reassure you that we are committed to ensuring that our admissions process recognises the hard work that you have put into your qualifications so far.  We’re working closely with UCAS to ensure that you will not be disadvantaged as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

The UK Government has asked Ofqual (the examinations regulator) to develop a process in England that will provide you with a calculated grade for your A levels. Once these grades are available, Aston will make a decision on whether you have met your conditional offer using your calculated grades. In line with our admissions policy, we may also take into account additional information from your UCAS form (for example the personal statement or school/college reference) when confirming places, alongside your calculated grades. 

If your exams have been cancelled, you do not need to inform us or take any action at this time. 

What are calculated grades?

Please see below information from UCAS:

‘To make sure it’s a fair reflection of your performance¸ your school or college will be asked to send exam boards two pieces of information for each of your subjects, based on what they know about your work and achievement:

  • the grade they believe you were most likely to get if teaching, learning, and exams had happened as planned
  • the order of students, by performance, within those grades

Your school or college will consider a range of things like your class and homework, your results in assignments and any mock exams, any non-exam assessment you might have done, and your general progress during your course.

The process outlined will ensure a set of fair and justifiable examination results are awarded for everyone affected by the examination and assessment cancellations.’

Read more about help with your application during coronavirus or awarding qualifications during summer 2020.

Will Aston accept calculated grades for my A-Levels?

Yes, Aston will accept calculated grades.  The Department for Education has advised that ‘The calculated grades awarded this summer will be formal grades, with the same status as grades awarded in any other year. They will therefore be accepted by all institutions.’  Aston will follow this advice. 

We appreciate the uncertainty that A Level, AS and GCSE students have faced this year with the cancellation of exams and will do everything that we can to make the confirmation of places to study with us and transition to University as easy as possible.

Will everyone be given their predicted grades?
The Department for Education advises ‘No. We know that simply using predicted grades would not be fair to all students. The ‘centre assessment grade’, which the exam boards will ask schools and colleges to submit for A and AS levels and GCSEs, will take into account an assessment of the likely grade that students would have obtained had exams gone ahead and these will be standardised across schools and colleges. For this reason, students’ final calculated grades will not necessarily be the same as either the predicted grades used for university applications, or the centre assessment grade put forward by their school or college.’
What if my predicted grades are lower than your offer?

The results that Aston will use when deciding if you have met your offer will be the calculated grades supplied by the UK awarding bodies.  We will not use your predicted grades. 

The Department for Education advises ‘We know that simply using predicted grades would not be fair to all students. The ‘centre assessment grade’, which the exam boards will ask schools and colleges to submit for A and AS levels and GCSEs, will take into account an assessment of the likely grade that students would have obtained had exams gone ahead and these will be standardised across schools and colleges. For this reason, students’ final calculated grades will not necessarily be the same as either the predicted grades used for university applications, or the centre assessment grade put forward by their school or college.’  The calculated grades provided may, therefore, be higher or lower than your predicted grades. 

If your predicted grades are lower than the offer you have received and you are concerned that you calculated grades may also be lower, please contact us for advice.  Our admissions team will be happy to discuss this with you.

I've been made a conditional offer, are there any changes to my offer? Will you withdraw my offer if my exams have been cancelled?
No. Your conditional offer will remain in place in line with the normal UCAS deadlines.  The only change will be that we will use your calculated grades to determine if you have met your offer to study with us.
Will Aston make unconditional offers to students whos exams have been cancelled?

No. We want to reassure you that we are committed to ensuring that our admissions process recognises the hard work that you have put into your qualifications so far and to ensuring that students we admit to the University are well equipped to succeed at Aston. 

We will use your calculated grades to check that you – and all other students that we are admitting to our degree programmes - meet our entry criteria.  Aston will not make unconditional offers to students waiting for their A Levels until calculated grades are known.  

Michelle Donelan, Universities Minister has said: 

‘Unconditional offers from universities might look attractive during this uncertain time, but it is worth spending time considering all your options and reflecting on which is the right university, college or other higher education provider, and which is the right course for you.’

What if I am unhappy with my calculated grades?
The Department for Education has said ‘Ofqual and the exam boards are working to ensure that candidates are awarded a fair grade that recognises the work they have put in. If an A level, AS level or GCSE student does not believe the correct process has been followed in their case, they will have access to a right of appeal on that basis. Ofqual has consulted on the arrangements for these appeals and will announce next steps shortly. In addition, if a student does not feel their grade reflects their performance, they will have the opportunity to take an exam in the autumn. Students will also have the option to take their exams in summer 2021, in line with usual practice.’
If I meet your conditions and start my degree but still want to take the exam option can I do so?

Ofqual have said ‘Students may still choose to take an exam even where their university or college place has been confirmed. However, it will take time for the results of these exams to be issued, so they will need to discuss with their higher and further education institution whether to start their course as planned or to delay their entry.’ 

If you meet our offer conditions and would like to begin your degree with us but would also like to take the exam option to improve your grades, we would be happy for you to do so.  We would encourage you to consider carefully how many of your A Level subjects you take the exam option for, as you will need to balance this extra workload with your first year degree.  You may wish to discuss this with your teachers at School/College or with your Personal Tutor at Aston.  

My offer has non-academic conditions such as occupational health clearence or DBS requirements. What should I do about those?
Any non-academic conditions such as occupational health clearance or DBS will still need to be met as part of your offer.  We recognise that it may be difficult to complete the relevant paperwork for your DBS or occupational health currently.  If you are unable to meet the deadline for non-academic conditions, please let our admissions team know and we can extend this for you.
I haven't yet applied Aston. Can I still apply?
Applicants who have not yet applied to Aston for 2020 are welcome to apply via UCAS (including via UCAS Extra.)  Please note we are no longer accepting applications for Medicine or Audiology.  Applicants who are waiting for their calculated A Level results will be made a conditional offer in the normal way. 
Will I receive an offer from you if I don't yet have one?
The University is still making offers for 2020 entry based on our normal entry criteria.  All offers can be viewed via UCAS.  Applicants who are waiting for their calculated A Level results and are expected to meet our standard entry criteria will be made a conditional offer in the normal way.
When do I need to reply to my offer?
You need to reply by the deadline specified by UCAS. There is no rush to reply to your offer and we recommend that you take the time needed to make the right decision for you.
What about private candidates or home educated students?

The Department for Education advises:

‘Where schools and colleges have accepted entries from external candidates (students who they have not taught themselves, because they have been home-educated, following distance-learning programmes or studying independently), those students should be taken account of in the process of producing centre assessment grades, where the head teacher or principal is confident that they and their staff have seen sufficient evidence of the student’s achievement to make an objective judgement.

Ofqual and the exam boards have been exploring the options for those students who do not have an existing relationship with an exams centre and who need results this summer for progression purposes. The Joint Council for Qualifications has published some guidance for exam centres on accepting private candidates which sets out the options that will be available. Unfortunately, not all external candidates will be able to be awarded a calculated grade this summer because some will not be in a position to provide sufficient evidence to enable their exam centre to include them in their centre assessment grades and rankings. Students in this position will need to sit exams to get their grades, either in the autumn or in summer 2021.

Ofqual has asked organisations that represent higher and further education providers to consider the steps that providers could take when making admissions decisions this summer for any private candidates who do not receive a grade. They have said that they believe that institutions will consider a range of other evidence and information for these students to allow them to progress wherever possible.’

UCAS has a step by step guide for private candidates/home educated students.

Who can I speak to if I am confused?

We understand that this is a very unsettling and worrying time for you and our admissions team are here to support you.  If you have any questions that are not answered on our website you are welcome to contact our admissions team or 0121 204 3030.

You can also speak to your teachers or advisers at School or College for advice and support. 

The Department of Education also have advice available to GCSE and A Level students or you can consult the UCAS COVID-19 page for students.

Will Aston use the UCAS tariff to make decisions?

No, Aston’s admissions policy is that offers are made on the basis of grades rather than UCAS tariff.

I am currently in year 11 taking my GCSEs, but would like to apply to Aston in the future. Will you accept my calculated GCSE results? 

Yes, Aston will accept calculated grades.  The Department for Education has advised that ‘The calculated grades awarded this summer will be formal grades, with the same status as grades awarded in any other year. They will therefore be accepted by all institutions.’ 

We recognise the uncertainty that applicants taking their GCSEs in year 11 this year have faced, and will welcome applications from applicants with calculated GCSEs when they are ready to apply for 2022 University entry.

Information for students taking vocational and technical qualifications
What about vocational and technical qualifications?

The Department for Education has said:

‘We recognise that many students will be taking vocational or technical qualifications (VTQs) and our priority is to ensure that students and adult learners taking these qualifications can move on as planned to the next stage of their lives, including starting university, college or sixth form courses, apprenticeships in the autumn, getting a job or progressing in work.

We know one approach to assessment of vocational and technical qualifications will not fit all, given the diversity of the VTQ landscape.

Ofqual published a consultation on its proposed measures for the assessment and awarding of VTQs on 24 April, closing 8 May. This is clear that qualifications used for progression to further or higher education, such as some BTECs, should wherever possible be issued with a calculated result, in line with the approach proposed for GCSEs, AS and A levels. For other vocational qualifications, such as those that are used for entry into employment where demonstration of practical competence is necessary, it won’t be appropriate to calculate a result. For these, Ofqual will work with the awarding organisation to determine whether the assessment can be adapted. Only as a last result should assessment be delayed.

VTQ students will have access to a right of appeal if they believe any part of the assessment process was not followed correctly. Students who do not feel their result reflects their ability will be able to sit an assessment at the next available opportunity. Most vocational and technical qualifications have a number of assessment windows during the year and some awarding organisations may be able to make additional windows available.’

Where a calculated grade is awarded for a vocational or technical qualification, Aston will accept this grade as long as you meet the entry requirements specified in your offer. 

Information for students taking Access to Higher Education Courses
What will happen if I cannot complete my Access to HE Course?
Further information about the approach to awarding Access to HE courses is available.  Where a calculated grade is awarded for an Access to HE Course, Aston will accept this grade as long as you meet the entry requirements specified in your offer.  
Information for students in Northern Ireland
I've got a conditional offer from Aston, but my exams or assessment have been cancelled. What happens now?

We know that this is a very unsettling and worrying time for you and our admissions team and colleagues from across the University are here to support you. 

We want to reassure you that we are committed to ensuring that our admissions process recognises the hard work that you have put into your qualifications so far.  We’re working closely with UCAS to ensure that you will not be disadvantaged as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

You can find information about how exam results will be awarded in Northern Ireland.

GCSE, AS, and A levels qualifications/grades awarded this year will be treated by Aston the same as in any other year.

If your exams have been cancelled, you do not need to inform us or take any action at this time.

Information for students in Scotland
I've got a conditional offer from Aston, but my exams or assessment have been cancelled. What happens now?

We know that this is a very unsettling and worrying time for you and our admissions team and colleagues from across the University are here to support you. 

We want to reassure you that we are committed to ensuring that our admissions process recognises the hard work that you have put into your qualifications so far.  We’re working closely with UCAS to ensure that you will not be disadvantaged as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

You can find information about how exam results will be awarded in Scotland.

Aston will regard SQA qualifications/grades awarded this year the same as any other grade issued in any other year.

If your exams have been cancelled, you do not need to inform us or take any action at this time.

Informaiton for students in Wales
I've got a conditional offer from Aston, but my exams or assessment have been cancelled. What happens now?

We know that this is a very unsettling and worrying time for you and our admissions team and colleagues from across the University are here to support you. 

We want to reassure you that we are committed to ensuring that our admissions process recognises the hard work that you have put into your qualifications so far.  We’re working closely with UCAS to ensure that you will not be disadvantaged as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

You can find information about how exam results will be awarded in Wales.

GCSE, AS, A level, and Skills Challenge Certificate qualifications/grades awarded this year will be treated by Aston the same as in any other year.

If your exams have been cancelled, you do not need to inform us or take any action at this time.

Information for students taking the International Baccalaureate (IB)
My exams will no longer be held in May. What shall I do?

The IBO have published the latest information on the IB, including FAQs and details of how IB qualifications will be awarded.

Aston will accept IB grades supplied by the International Baccalaureate Organisation for the May 2020 session as long as they meet our normal entry requirements.  We appreciate the uncertainty that students have faced this year with the cancellation of exams and will do everything that we can to make the confirmation of places to study with us and transition to University as easy as possible. 

Information for applicants relating to interviews
What if I am applying for a course which requires an interview?

We will conduct interviews by video-conference (e.g. Skype) or telephone. You will be contacted with a date and time for your interview.