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Covid: University of Surrey lowers entry grades to 'relieve anxiety'

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The University of Surrey will drop entry requirements by one grade for most students applying for undergraduate courses next year.

Grades will be lowered to "relieve the pressure and anxiety" for students, who have had their learning disrupted by the pandemic across two academic years.

It is the second institution to make the move within a week.

The government said it will publish plans "shortly" on how it will manage disruption to exam pupils in England.

Lizzie Burrows, director of recruitment and admissions at the University of Surrey, said: "We are taking this action now to relieve the pressure and anxiety facing this year's applicants, as they experience ongoing disruption and uncertainty surrounding exams and assessment of their learning.

'Reassurance'

"By taking this step, we can provide one additional element of certainty and reassurance that these students will be protected from unfair disadvantage as a result of the impact of the pandemic."

Regulated courses such as veterinary medicine, foundation year courses, four-year integrated masters programmes and audition-based performance courses will be exempt from the grade reduction, the university said.

Earlier this month, the University of Birmingham became the first higher education institution to reduce entry requirements in recognition of the impact of the pandemic.

For each university course there is an expected threshold in terms of A-level grades, and now Surrey is saying it will accept one grade lower in one subject this year.

So a student applying to study chemistry will only have to reach two Bs and a C at A-level, whereas in previous years it would have been three Bs.

This move by a large university may be an early sign of how flexible universities will be with this year's applicants.

The University of Birmingham has already said it will also be dropping requirements by one grade in one subject.

A-level exams in England are expected to go ahead, and ministers will be under pressure to find a way of recognising that some students have had learning more disrupted than others.

That could prove difficult but a more forgiving approach by universities could compensate.

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