Getting here and getting started

You may still have questions about how you take up your place at Birmingham this year. In this overview we aim to provide some clarity about our admissions process, and let you know who you can speak to if you have further questions. 

As announced by the Government in March 2020, assessment and exams will not go ahead for students due to take A levels in the UK in summer 2020. The Government released a statement stating that they will be providing calculated grades to students which reflect their performance as fairly as possible.

Your school or college have been asked to send exam boards two pieces of information for each of your subjects, based on what they know about your work and achievements:

  • the grade they believe you were most likely to get if teaching, learning and exams had happened as planned within each subject
  • the order of students at your school or college, by performance, for each grade.

This information will be used to standardise judgements – allowing fine tuning of the standard applied across schools and colleges. Your school or college will consider a range of things like your classwork and homework; your results in assignments and any mock exams; any non-exam assessment or coursework you might have done; and your general progress during your course. The exam boards will then combine this information with other relevant data, including prior attainment, and use this information to produce a calculated grade for each student, which will be a best assessment of the work they have put in. For further information you can read the most up-to-date Government advice on how qualifications will be awarded in summer 2020.

A level results will be released as planned on 13 August 2020. If you have already been made an offer to study at the University of Birmingham then the terms of that offer still apply, and please be reassured that we continue to do everything we can to minimise the impact of the current situation on you coming to University.

Can't find an answer? Try our detailed FAQs below:

Who can I talk to about my place at Birmingham for September 2020, and can I defer?

As well as running online events where you can ask questions, we are offering a live chat facility on our website at key times for you to ask any questions. This is available now and if you are an existing undergraduate offer holder you will have been sent further information with details of how to access live chat.

We will be able to consider deferral requests after 1 August 2020, at which point the national and international picture will be clearer. If you do decide that you would like to defer your offer at this point, please contact our Undergraduate Admissions Team. Please note that only applicants who meet the terms of their standard offer will be permitted to defer.

You may also like to visit our undergraduate admissions FAQs.

Can I still apply for student finance for 2020 entry?

Yes – the Student Loans Company has stated that new and existing students can continue to apply for student finance as normal and they will continue to process applications that have been received as quickly as they can. You can find out more on the Student Loans Company website.

I have applied for a course with a year abroad for September 2020 – how will Covid-19 affect my year abroad?

We are working with all relevant partners, including our study abroad partnership universities around the world, to continually assess the situation. Your Year Abroad typically takes place in the third year of your degree (starting in September 2022 for those who start university in September 2020).

I’m a private candidate – what does this year's situation mean for me?

If you are a private candidate registered with an exams centre (i.e. not currently a student at the exam centre) your centre should still provide calculated grades for you unless there is genuinely insufficient evidence for grades to be calculated. In the first instance you should contact the centre where you were registered to take your exams to find out if they will be able to provide calculated grades to your exam board(s). If they will be providing calculated grades then the University will consider these in the same way as though you had taken examinations.

For any applicants who are not provided with calculated grades the University will consider whether there is sufficient alternative evidence of suitability to study. As all applicants’ circumstances are different such decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis considering all relevant information available to us including any evidence of likely achievement and their academic profile to-date.

If you receive confirmation from your exam centre that they will not be providing calculated grades for you should alert us. Please ensure that you state your UCAS ID number and the programme you are holding an offer for. You should provide a summary of the situation which means you will not receive grades and, where possible, a copy of the confirmation received from your centre that they will not be providing grades for you.

The University is continuing to monitor updates on provision for ‘private candidates’ from OfQUAL (the exams regulator for England), UCAS and other agencies and we will update this page as more information becomes available.

You can view the latest guidance from OfQUAL for students hoping to progress to University.

I’ve applied through Access to Birmingham – what does this mean for me?

Why will A2B offer holders not be completing the academic assignment this year?

The University remains totally committed to our pioneering Access to Birmingham (A2B) programme and to ensuring that students from less advantaged backgrounds and non-selective state schools can attend a prestigious Russell Group university, such as Birmingham.

The role of our academic community in A2B is to set and mark assignments, providing an element of feedback to students during the process. This is one part of a comprehensive programme of activities that we offer to students. We are committed to enabling these students to join us, and in light of the challenges these students face we have decided that this year they will not have to complete the academic assignment in order to benefit from the A2B alternative offer. A2B students will continue to be supported through peer-to-peer mentoring and extensive online academic resources which aid their transition to university. We are strongly encouraging all A2B students to complete a written reflective task and the online study skills module Skills4Uni.

Like many other universities, we are working hard to adapt our programmes to the new COVID-19 reality. We surveyed our A2B students to establish what would work for them and of those that responded found that over 300 students only had access to shared IT facilities, 23 could not access internet from home, 159 had no quiet place to work and 115 were caring for siblings.

We were one of the first universities to set up a fair access scheme for local students in 2000 and are proud to be able to offer prospective applicants the support of our A2B scheme if they are studying at one of our partner institutions. In the past twelve months we’ve expanded the range of programmes available under the “Pathways to Birmingham” banner, meaning that more students can access support and are eligible for a reduced offer at Birmingham. Recognising the impact of COVID-19 we are working on a programme of support for year 12 students to ensure that they are also not unfairly disadvantaged.

How do I complete A2B during COVID-19?

A2B students who are currently on the programme should visit the A2B University Transition Canvas Course for full information about the A2B scheme this year.

As an A2B eligible student this year you will not have to complete the academic assignment in order to benefit from the A2B alternative offer. By selecting Birmingham as your firm choice on UCAS you will be admitted to the course you have applied for if the grades you are awarded at least meet the terms of your A2B offer. A2B students are eligible for financial support, the details of which can be found on the canvas course linked to above. 

In line with previous guidance you've been given about the A2B programme, these benefits only apply to students who are holding firm offers from the University of Birmingham. Therefore if you would like to benefit from your A2B offer and gain the A2B funding, please remember to select Birmingham as your firm choice institution by the UCAS deadline.

Reflective Activity and Skills4Uni Quiz

We strongly encourage all A2B students to complete two tasks:

  • a written reflective task focusing on your preparation for University
  • a multiple choice quiz based on the online study skills module Skills4Uni

Both the reflective task and Skills4Uni quiz will aid your preparation for university and help you develop some of the skills that will make you a successful student, meaning they are very useful to complete.

While these activities are not compulsory for completion, we may be able to give extra consideration to students who have completed the reflective task and Skills4Uni quiz but who have narrowly missed out on being awarded the grades needed to achieve a place on their chosen course. Whilst places for students who have not met the terms of their offer cannot be guaranteed we hope to recognise the commitment that students who have completed these two task have made wherever possible.

Accessing the reflective assignment, Skills4Uni and other transitional support

We understand that this is a challenging time for all of our A2B students and we have not been able to support your entry to university in the usual way by inviting you to attend events on campus. As a result, we have now launched the A2B University Transition Course which is hosted on our virtual learning environment Canvas. To enable everyone to access it easily, the course is currently accessible without requiring you to log in to the system – just follow the link below to visit the course. We recommend you save the link to the page as a bookmark or to your favourites so you can find it again easily. From 18 June 2020, you will need to log in to access the course as this will enable you to complete the Skills4Uni quiz and the A2B reflective assignment. We will provide you with log in details at this time.

The course contains a lot of useful information about the benefits of being an A2B student, including your offer and financial support, as well as more general information about what it’s like to be a university student and how to prepare yourself for this step.

We will be adding new content to this course when it becomes available, including subject-specific resources and transitional activities, so do make sure you check back regularly for these updates.

Will you provide regular updates on what I need to do to complete the scheme?

Yes, all A2B students will be informed of any decisions as soon as they are confirmed. We will continue to communicate with our A2B students by email as our primary mode of communication, so please ensure you are checking your emails and read any communications from us carefully and in full. If you wish to change your primary email address for our communications please email the A2B team at a2b@contacts.bham.ac.uk

When will we know our A2B result and whether we have successfully completed the programme?

As an A2B eligible student the terms of your A2B offer remain unchanged. This year you will not have to complete the academic assignment in order to benefit from being part of the A2B programme. By selecting Birmingham as your firm choice on UCAS we commit to admitting you if the grades you are awarded at least meet the terms of your A2B offer.

As such, we will not be releasing results to you. However, we want to encourage all A2B students to complete two tasks for which you receive feedback to support your learning and development:

  • a written reflective task focusing on your preparation for University
  • a multiple choice quiz based on the online study skills moduleSkills4Uni

Both the reflective task and Skills4Uni quiz will aid your preparation for university and help you develop some of the skills that will make you a successful student, meaning they are very useful to complete.

In addition, we may be able to give extra consideration to students who have completed the reflective task and Skills4Uni quiz but who have narrowly missed out on being awarded the grades needed to achieve a place on their chosen course. Whilst places for students who have not met the terms of their offer cannot be guaranteed we hope to recognise the commitment that students who have completed these two task have made wherever possible.

Full details of both activities are available on the A2B University Transition Canvas Course.

Will we still receive a bursary/scholarship through the A2B scheme?

As an A2B eligible student the terms of your A2B offer remain unchanged. This year you will not have to complete the academic assignment in order to benefit from being part of the A2B programme. By selecting Birmingham as your firm choice on UCAS we commit to admitting you if the grades you are awarded at least meet the terms of your A2B offer.

You will also be eligible for A2B funding depending on the grades you are awarded. If your grades meet or exceed those of your standard offer you will be awarded the A2B Scholarship which is worth £1500 per year of study. If your grades meet or exceed those of your A2B offer you will be awarded the A2B Bursary worth £1000 in the first year of study. A2B students are also considered for the Chamberlain Award worth up to £2000 per year of study and based on household income. A2B students are eligible for the Chamberlain Award worth £2000 per year of study if household income is below £60,000. Please note you must be classed as a Home student for fees purposes to benefit from this financial support.

For the Chamberlain Award, we encourage you to review the criteria for the award on the webpage.In order to be considered for the Chamberlain Award, you need to get means tested for financial support from the Student Loans Company. Please note that this does not mean that you are required to take out a maintenance loan. Once you have applied for means tested support, please fill in this form with your name, University student ID number as stated on your offer letter, and Student Support Number (SSN)/Customer Reference Number (CRN) as given to you by the Student Loans Company.

These benefits only apply to students who are holding firm offers from the University of Birmingham. Therefore if you would like to benefit from your A2B offer and gain the A2B funding please remember to select Birmingham as your firm choice institution by the UCAS deadline.

Will there be any support given for transition from Year 13 to university?

Yes. The A2B Team have been working hard to put together an online resource to support your transition to university. We are pleased to announce this resource is now ready for you to use.

The A2B University Transition Course is hosted on our virtual learning environment Canvas. To enable everyone to access it easily, the course is currently accessible without requiring you to log in to the system – just follow the link below to visit the course. We recommend you save the link to the page as a bookmark or to your favourites so you can find it again easily. From 18 June 2020, you will need to log in to access the course as this will enable you to complete the Skills4Uni quiz and the A2B reflective assignment (more on this below).

The course contains a lot of useful information about the benefits of being an A2B student, including your offer and financial support, as well as more general information about what it’s like to be a university student and how to prepare yourself for this step.

We will be adding new content to this course when it becomes available, including subject-specific resources and transitional activities, so do make sure you check back regularly for these updates.

We strongly encourage you to engage with this content where possible to support you with your academic and personal transition to university life and study, when this is made available to you. When this content is available, we will email all our A2B students with details of how to access it and where they can get additional support.

In addition, we may be able to give extra consideration to students who have completed the reflective task and Skills4Uni quiz but who have narrowly missed out on being awarded the grades needed to achieve a place on their chosen course. Whilst places for students who have not met the terms of their offer cannot be guaranteed we hope to recognise the commitment that students who have completed these two task have made wherever possible.

I don't have the technology or Wi-Fi to be able to complete the activities, what should I do?

We recognise that some of our students may not have reliable access to the internet or a computing device (including a smart mobile phone). If you are in this position and are concerned about your ability to complete these tasks, we have set up a special phone line for you to contact the A2B Team to let us know about your situation. We will then look into what alternative arrangements we may be able to make for you. The phone numbers to call, along with the times they will be available are listed below. Please note, this phone line is strictly to be used only by students who need to let us know they do not have the technology needed to complete these activities and cannot contact us by email. Any other queries should be sent to us by email or during the live chat mentioned above.

Dedicated phone lines for students without internet access:

  • 07990 794533
  • 07970 459373

Both phone lines will be available every weekday from Monday 8 June onwards, between 10am – 12pm and 2pm – 4pm. If you cannot get through to one phone line, please try the other. Please note these phone lines will be switched off outside these hours.

How will A2B support me throughout my years at university?

We know that making the transition to university can be worrying for all students and that this year the disruption to your Year 13 studies and exams might make you feel more anxious than usual. However we want to reassure you that if you come to Birmingham through one of our Pathways to Birmingham programmes you will join our ‘Birmingham Scholar’ community.

Being a Birmingham Scholar means you will have access to a range of bespoke support in addition to that which the University and academic departments offer to all students. Being a Birmingham Scholar means that you will:

  • be given a named contact to support you throughout your time at the University
  • have the opportunity to access a peer mentor/buddy to support transition
  • gain access to additional bespoke academic support
  • join the targeted Pathways to Careers programme, which includes early communications and promotions about employability events, personal and professional development workshops, networking and an insight into West Midlands region employers and business visits, and priority access to a range of other employment related opportunities

We hope this support means you can make a flying start to your studies and reach your full potential during your time at the University of Birmingham and beyond. We will be hosting an online launch event for Birmingham Scholar students before the University term begins. At this event you will meet the staff who will work with you on these programmes during your Welcome to the University and throughout your degree. The event will provide you with further information about how these support opportunities will operate and you will be able to ask any questions that you may have.

Do I still have my A2B offer, even though the programme is no longer going ahead?

Yes. We understand that this is a difficult time for students in Year 13, but please be reassured that your A2B status still stands and is protected. By selecting Birmingham as your firm choice on UCAS you will be admitted to the course you have applied for if the grades you are awarded at least meet the terms of your A2B offer.

Why haven't I received my A2B offer yet?

Sometimes there is a delay with the application of your A2B offer. If you email the A2B team at a2b@contacts.bham.ac.uk with your UCAS Personal ID and full name, we will be able to follow this up for you with the relevant Admissions team.

If I make the University of Birmingham my firm and insurance choice on UCAS, would I get to keep my A2B offers on both?

No, your A2B offer only applies to the course you put down as your firm choice on UCAS. If you make an offer from the University of Birmingham your insurance choice, this offer will be conditional upon the standard offer grades.

If I apply through Clearing or Adjustment, will my A2B status count?

If you have successfully completed the A2B scheme, the admissions team are notified of this in advance of the offer confirmation process so they can take this into account when confirming places based on your achieved grades.

If you wish to apply for a course which is available during clearing and adjustment, you follow the usual process of contacting universities. You can then inform them that you have successfully completed A2B and they may be able to take this into consideration when checking your eligibility for an offer. Please note, there is no guarantee of you being made an offer through adjustment or clearing and it is important to be aware that only a limited number of subjects are usually available through this method as most courses will be filled through the initial confirmation process by students who achieved the grades of their offer.

If you have not been successful in achieving a place on the course you originally applied for, you will not be offered a place on this course through clearing even if it is available in clearing and adjustment. Usually clearing and adjustment opens on results day, but this year there may be a slight delay. We will keep you informed about how this process will work nearer to the time.

Will I have to reapply to A2B if I decide to take my exams in the autumn?

Students who do not feel their calculated grade reflects their performance will have the opportunity to sit an exam as soon as is reasonably possible after the beginning of the new academic year. The Government's aim is for results to be awarded before Christmas, and Ofqual is working with exam boards to work out how this could be delivered. Universities will be as flexible as possible in their admissions.
As this process is still under development, any student wanting to understand the implications on university admission of taking these autumn exams should contact the University after receiving their calculated grade in the summer, by which point we expect to have further clarity from the government about how these exams will be delivered.

If I take the exam in September and achieve the standard grades, will I get the A2B scholarship?

Students who do not feel their calculated grade reflects their performance will have the opportunity to sit an exam as soon as is reasonably possible after the beginning of the new academic year. The Government's aim is for results to be awarded before Christmas, and Ofqual is working with exam boards to work out how this could be delivered. Universities will be as flexible as possible in their admissions.

As this process is still under development, any student wanting to understand the implications on university admission of taking these autumn exams should contact the University after receiving their calculated grade in the summer, by which point we expect to have further clarity from the government about how these exams will be delivered.

If you have successfully completed A2B and meet the other eligibility criteria for the financial support, you will be able to receive this in the same way when you start your course at the University regardless of whether your grades have come from your final assigned grade on results day in August, or a grade from exams taken the following autumn. Whichever grade is higher is the one which will be taken as your final grade for determining eligibility for the financial support awards, including the Chamberlain Award, A2B Bursary, and A2B Scholarship.