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Update on Confirmation and Clearing 2020

Professor Mark Fellowes

The following message was sent to all colleagues from Professor Mark Fellowes, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Academic Planning & Resource.

Dear colleagues,

Late on Monday, the government announced a U-turn on calculating A-level grades, and also the removal of the cap on recruitment numbers introduced earlier in the year. Such significant last-minute changes, when we were already well underway with the Confirmation and Clearing cycle, has caused immense uncertainty and disruption for prospective students and the university sector.

The response of colleagues here has been extraordinary. The commitment to adapt overnight so that we can do our very best for the young people caught in the middle of this debacle has, yet again, made me immensely proud of our University community. Across Global Recruitment & Admissions, Marketing, Communication & Engagement, Digital Technology Services, RISIS and Estates, colleagues pulled out all the stops. I’d particularly like to thank those who, with no notice, came onto campus on Tuesday to staff our Clearing call centre for what proved to be a very busy day. As I listened to colleagues talking with concerned and anxious students, it reinforced just how important calm, empathic support and advice is for those affected.

It was already apparent that COVID-19 would have a potentially significant impact on this year’s recruitment outcomes, particularly for international students. These latest changes mean that the Clearing process will be further prolonged as students consider their options anew. We only received updated marks for applicants from UCAS late yesterday, and colleagues have worked through these today to extend offers to those who now meet our entry requirements. There is then a five day window for applicants to accept or decline this offer, so we won’t have a clearer picture of our position until late next week at the earliest. Even then, and for international recruitment in particular, it is only in mid to late October following enrolment that we will have reliable number for this academic year.

An issue raised about the removal of the student number cap has been how universities will cope with increased numbers while also observing social distancing on campus. Here at Reading, we are confident that the work already underway to deliver a blended online and in-person experience for new and returning students will allow us to address these challenges and ensure the safety and wellbeing of our community. With the start of term now only around a month away, that work continues apace and there will be an update on our phased return and arrangements for the new academic year next week.

Despite how quickly circumstances changed, we have responded both professionally and compassionately to anxious applicants, using empathy and tact to help guide them through the process. A truly impressive response by all concerned.

Best wishes and thanks again,


Professor Mark Fellowes

Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic Planning & Resource)

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