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Information about further and higher education during the coronavirus pandemic.

First published:
24 March 2020
Last updated:

Contents

Is my college still open?

Most colleges in Wales are not closing completely, but are moving to providing online and distance learning. Contact your college or check their website for the latest information.

If you don’t have access to the internet, or to a suitable device to support distance learning, contact your college for advice.

Will A level, GCSE and vocational examinations/assessments still take place this year?

No.  It has been confirmed that GCSE and A level examinations will not take place this summer.  Learners due to sit their GCSEs and A levels this summer will be awarded a fair grade to recognise their work, drawing on the range of information that is available. Qualifications Wales published an update on Friday 20 March on the issuing of grades for publication in summer 2020.

We are still considering the fairest way to issue grades for learners who are studying vocational qualifications and the Welsh Baccalaureate.

Qualifications Wales most recent statement on the approach for vocational qualifications.

When will I get my A level results?

Results day for A levels and AS levels will be as originally scheduled, on 13 August.

What’s happening with assessment of BTECs and other vocational qualifications?

We are still working on arrangements for vocational qualifications. This is more complicated than for A levels and GCSEs, because most vocational qualifications are offered across the UK and there are many different awarding bodies involved.  Some learners also need to do practical assessments to complete their qualifications, which isn’t possible while colleges are closed for face-to-face learning.

Qualifications Wales is working with other UK qualifications regulators and will be confirming arrangements soon.  You can see their latest updates and FAQs.

It has been confirmed that learners who were due to complete Essential Skills Wales qualifications by 31 July 2020 will receive a calculated result.  More details are available here.

Will Education Maintenance Allowance or Welsh Government Learning Grant payments still continue?

Yes, colleges and schools are allowed to continue EMA and WGLG (FE) payments for eligible learners during the COVID-19 pandemic, at their discretion.  Learner absence for reasons of illness, self-isolation or college closure can all be treated as authorised absences. Please contact your college or school if you require more information.

Learners can still apply for EMA for academic year 2019/20. The deadline is 31 August 2020, however, please be aware that the timescales for processing applications may be a little longer than usual. Applications can be downloaded from www.studentfinancewales.co.uk/ema

Please remember that EMA payments can only be made for school and college term times. EMA payments are paid fortnightly.

WGLG (FE) applications for academic year 2019/20 must be received by Student Finance Wales within 9 months of starting your course. Applications can be downloaded from www.studentfinancewales.co.uk/fe/wglg

WGLG (FE) payments are paid termly.

I’m planning to go to university in the autumn. Is there any online learning or support I can access to help me prepare?

We are working with colleges and universities to create online learning resources for learners planning to progress into higher education. These include subject-specific learning, as well as resources to help with study skills and research.  You can access all the resources here.

Will my college keep their nursery open?

Contact your college or check their website for the latest information.

The Welsh Government published an update on 20 March regarding childcare provision and support for critical workers and vulnerable children.

What should schools be doing to support learners who have finished their GCSE or A level studies and are moving on to further or higher education in autumn?

Schools still have a duty of care for these learners and should provide them with learning activities, resources, advice and guidance to help them prepare for their next stage of learning.  Resources and information for Year 11 and Year 13 pupils, including the Seren cohort, are available on our post-16 distance learning page on Hwb.

How is the Welsh Government planning to work with the post-16 sector in response to Covid-19?

We’ve published a Covid-19 Post-16 Resilience Plan which gives an overview of our plans over the coming months, our ways of working, and some of the key actions we’ll be taking to help support the sector, its staff and learners.  We are now putting together a more detailed delivery plan, which will include working groups with representation from across our partners and learning provider network.

When will colleges and training providers reopen for face-to-face learning?

We don’t have a firm date for reopening yet. The Minister for Education has published a framework which sets out how decisions will be made on reopening all education and childcare settings.  We are currently working with the FE and work-based learning sectors on guidance around recommencing face-to-face learning for priority groups of learners, and will be taking advice from our scientific advisors on this. The Minister will put the safety and well-being of learners and staff at the core of any decisions on reopening.

Should colleges take any steps to continue the supply of period products for learners during any closures or other disruptions to learning?

Yes. We have asked that all schools and colleges provide learners with a three-month supply of period products if they need to close as a result of COVID-19.

The Welsh Government has worked with WLGA to ensure that distribution of period products can be managed by Local Authorities, along with free school meals arrangements.

I’m studying an Access to Higher Education Diploma, will I get results based on predicted grades in the same way as A level learners?

Yes, students who planned to complete their Access to HE studies by 31 July 2020 will be awarded a graded Diploma, based on the assessment they have already completed and calculated grades for all remaining assessments that have submission dates after 20 March 2020.  Further information is available on QAA’s website.

FE institutions are seeing a decrease in part-time enrolments over the summer term, which will affect ability to meet funding targets; what flexibility is available?

There will be no reclaim exercise undertaken for 2019/20 with regard to part time delivery targets. The process for setting 2020/21 funding allocations for part-time learning won’t be affected by this year’s performance.

How will COVID-19 affect further education performance measures for 2019/20?

The Welsh Government will not be producing achievement and value added measures for further education for 2019/20, or learner outcomes reports for adult learning. We want colleges and other learning providers to continue to submit learner data, as normal, so that the impact of COVID-19 can be better understood, but this will not be used for performance measures.

Can delivery of the Flexible Adult Learning programme be extended into the summer term if required?

Yes, we can extend the timetable as required.

What resources will be available for learners now face to face teaching has ceased? What approach will institutions take to allowing learners to resume study after the pandemic?

Welsh Government is aware that while face-to-face teaching has ceased for the time being, colleges and universities are moving to online delivery wherever this is possible. Welsh Government is working with Jisc to help support the further development of online learning resources where needed.

As the individual approaches taken by learning providers will vary, learners should speak to their provider about their specific course.

What support will be available for learners who don't have access to computers at home?

We understand that each institution is taking action to ensure all learners can access e-learning, for example through loaning laptops to learners who do not have facilities at home. Learners should be able to get further information from their learning provider.

We have asked learning providers to prioritise learner well-being and to provide support and updates remotely, wherever possible, through phone, email and online methods.

Some learners would have been due to start in spring 2020. What will happen with their courses?

Each institution is responsible for making arrangements for those learners who were due to start courses shortly.

Have institutions attempted to identify learners whose own health, or the health of their dependents, may require special consideration when assessing risk and adapting procedures particularly as they will no longer physically attend?

Institutions are aware of their duty of care to, and pastoral support for, learners, and are prioritising support for vulnerable learners.  Colleges and universities have student services teams who are leading on this, and who should be the first port of call for further information.

In addition, the Welsh Government is reviewing its student support policies to ensure that higher education students, particularly international students, are properly supported during this time. The Welsh Government is working with the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales and Universities Wales on matters related to student welfare and will review policy accordingly. We recognise how difficult a time this is for students and that they face unique issues.

What is being done to support learners’ welfare and mental health in post-16 learning? Is there a role for additional government funding/ direction to do this?

Please see above. Institutions have effective process and procedures to care for the wellbeing of learners, and are providing online support wherever possible.  We have also asked them to ensure that ‘keeping in touch’ arrangements are in place to help learners through periods of isolation and social distancing, including for work-based learners whose employers have shut down.

Both the further and higher education sectors have funding to support mental health in 2020-21, and this can be used to help support learner resilience and well-being during the current period of remote learning and social isolation.

There is a need to support healthcare professional learners, what precautions or actions should these learners be taking?

Each institution is responsible for arranging placements and the welfare of staff and student is their key priority. The Welsh Government is reviewing its learner support policies to ensure that learners are properly supported during this time.

What will happen with graduations?

This is for individual institutions to determine on the basis of Government advice at the time.

What additional provision for Tier 4 visa advice is available, and is this provision being made available remotely?

How is the COVID-19 response working in the post-16 sector?

The Minister for Education has published a COVID-19 Resilience Plan for the post-16 sector, the equivalent to the Continuity of Learning policy statement for schools.  This sets out how the Welsh Government will work with partners and the sector to support learners’ continuity and progression.

The best thing to do is contact your local college – they will be able to give you lots of information and advice, both about the college itself and the subjects you are interested in.  Many colleges are holding “virtual open days” where you can get a feel for what studying in further education is like.

Our Bridge to Post-16 Learning and Skills page on Hwb includes resources, information and online courses to help you decide what to do next.

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