The University of Oxford has announced that offer-holders who have missed their A-Level offer grades, but successfully appeal their grades to later meet the offer conditions, will not typically be eligible for entry in the 2020/21 academic year. Instead, they will have to wait a year before beginning their course, the University states on its Results Advice page.

The University refers to the government’s ‘triple lock’ strategy, saying: “Following the recent change (12 August) in Government policy regarding the appeals process for A-levels this year, we are revising our deadline for confirmation of acceptance to begin studying here in autumn 2020.”

“Once we reach maximum capacity for our intake of undergraduates in 2020, we will have to defer entry to 2021 for any additional candidates who appeal successfully and whose place is confirmed after 13 August.”

Offer-holders have been told to contact their prospective colleges urgently if they did not meet the conditions of their offer by 13 August, but hope to do so by the UCAS deadline of 7 September and “believe that deferring the start of [their] course until autumn 2021 would have serious consequences.”

If an appeal is not successful, A-Level students have also been offered the opportunity to take examinations in the autumn, providing enough evidence to reassess grades.

The University has told students that they can reapply to the university at no disadvantage, with autumn 2020 or June 2021 exams not considered as retakes: “Your application will be considered alongside others for 2021 entry, however, we will not consider the results of the exams taken in autumn or June 2021 as retakes, so your application will not be disadvantaged when admissions decisions are made”.

Applicants for Medicine have been told that they must re-take all their qualifications in a single exam sitting, rather than only the ones with which they are dissatisfied.

Additionally, offer-holders with science A-Levels have also been told that the requirement for a pass in their subject’s practical component may be waived, depending on specific extenuating circumstances: “We are aware that students may not have had the chance to complete their practical tasks before the beginning of the pandemic lockdown. If this is the case, or you have other extenuating circumstances that mean you have been unable to gain a pass grade for the endorsement, this requirement may be waived”.

One in five students could defer going to university this year, according to a recent poll. The University stated in their Coronavirus FAQ that “we will not routinely support requests for deferral”, although “any offer holders with particular, verifiable reasons to wish to defer their place should contact the college which made their offer or open-offer to discuss this”.

Oxford University stated previously that they may accept students from disadvantaged backgrounds who miss their A-Level grades, to account for the “educational disruption” caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the disproportionate impact on those from “underrepresented backgrounds”.

The University told Cherwell in July: “If the results show young people experiencing disadvantage were unfairly affected by the mechanism used to issue A Level grades, Oxford will do everything possible within the boundaries of the OfS conditions and the imposed DfE student number controls to help these students. We are fortunate that we hold a wealth of information on the students who have been made offers by Oxford, including admissions test and interview scores.”

The University writes on its website about this year’s A-Level results: “As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, University admissions this year are taking place in an environment of exceptional instability and uncertainty and this includes the extraordinary process for the grading of A-levels. Against this backdrop we are firmly committed to admitting as many eligible students as possible, whilst balancing this against our responsibility to prioritise the health and safety of our community and the need to protect the quality of the Oxford student experience.”