Charting the impact of COVID-19 on UK admissions and recruitment

[This article was first published on 17th March 2020, but is being updated regularly. Last update: 28th July 2020]

A summary of school closures and exam arrangements.

News over recent weeks has been dominated by the spread of coronavirus; as of 23rd July UNESCO found that in 107 countries schools and universities are closed at a national level. At the peak in April, there were national closures in 193 countries.

With the period between April and June a common period for upper secondary and undergraduate exams globally, it remains to be seen what the impact of these closures will be on students due to graduate school/university this year.

At UK NARIC, we are tracking delays in exams at secondary and higher education level as they’re announced. 

In addition to the updates below, we have published a special report: The Effects of Covid-19 on International Secondary Assessment. The report looks at postponements and cancellations in selected key countries in more detail.


Afghanistan: Schools and universities are closed until September.

Bangladesh: Schools and universities remain closed and a decision has not yet been made on when they will reopen. Exams for the Higher School Certificate have been postponed until further notice.

Brunei: A level exams have been cancelled.

China: Schools and universities in all provinces have started to reopen. Key “exit years” will return to school first – Grade 9, Grade 12 and final year university students; thereby helping to minimise disruption to exams and graduation. Schools have been closed again in Beijing following a new outbreak of the virus. The Gaokao took place on 7th-8th July.

Hong Kong: Examinations for the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) took place between 24th April and 25th May, after being postponed for one month; results were released on 22nd July. Schools started to reopen from late May. Universities continued to deliver courses and exams online to the end of the Spring semester, but some are arranging face-to-face sessions over the summer.

India: All schools and universities are closed but lockdown restrictions are beginning to be lifted. For the all-India boards, the CISCE, CBSE and NIOS Standard 12 exams were initially postponed, then cancelled. Results will be based on students’ past performance. CICSE results were released on 10th July and CBSE results were released on 13th July. NIOS results have not yet been released. For state boards: Standard 12 exams in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh were completed prior to lockdown; postponed exams went ahead in Goa and Kerala in May; in Karnataka, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh in June; and in Mizoram at the beginning of July. Exams in Odisha have been cancelled.

Updated UGC guidelines advise that the start of the academic year in universities should be put back until September for first year students and October for continuing students. Following the recent increases in Covid-19 cases, many university exams have been cancelled, with students to be graded on the basis of previous performance and internal assessment.

Indonesia: All national examinations (Ujian Nasional) for 2020, including senior high school, madrasahs and junior high school, have been cancelled. The new academic year started in July but schools and universities are expected to continue to deliver courses online until later in the year. Some schools in low-risk areas will gradually reopen from July onwards.

Japan: Schools began to partially reopen in some regions from mid-May. The new academic year has started in universities, but courses are being delivered online, with face-to-face delivery unlikely to resume before September in most cases.

Kazakhstan: The Unified National Tests went ahead in late June / July, but schools will not reopen until September. Final school exams were cancelled; university exams were conducted online.

Malaysia: All schools and universities are closed. Semester 2 exams for the STPM have been postponed until 12th-18th August. Exams for semester 3 have been postponed until March 2021. Exams for the Matriculation programme have been cancelled. Exams for the UEC have been postponed until December. The Ministry for Higher Education has announced that, with a few exceptions, all programmes of study at universities will be taught online until the end of 2020.

Nepal: The Secondary Education Examination has been cancelled and the National Examination Board will issue certificates based on internal assessments carried out by schools.

Pakistan: Schools and universities will reopen from 15th September. All board exams, including those for the Higher School Certificate have been cancelled. Guidance from the HEC says that universities should still aim to complete final assessments by other means and enable students to graduate.

Philippines: Schools are closed in certain regions, including Manila. Grade 12 examinations took place on 12-13th March and the school year ended at the beginning of April. The start of the new academic year has been delayed until August.

Singapore: Schools reopened on 2nd June. Mid-year exams have been postponed or cancelled; most A level exams take place in October. Universities will reopen in August or September, after the summer break, with some courses still delivered online.

South Korea: Schools began to reopen from 20th May, starting with Grade 12 students. The College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT / 대학수학능력시험), the national university entrance examination, which usually takes place in November, has been pushed back to 3rd December. Universities are delivering courses online for the rest of the academic year.

Sri Lanka: A level exams have been postponed until September. State universities reopened for final year medical students on 15th June and for other final year students on 22nd June. Schools are gradually reopening in July.

Taiwan: The Advanced Subjects Test (AST) (指定科目考試) took place on 3rd-5th July.

Thailand: The first semester of the new academic year was delayed and started on 1st July. Universities will start the new academic year in July or August, but some will still teach online.

Uzbekistan: Final year school exams have been taken online. University entrance exams are planned for the first week of August and will be online. Assessment for Bachelor and Master’s degrees is also online.

Vietnam: Schools and universities have reopened. The school year has been extended until mid-July and national high school graduation examinations will take place 7-11th August.


Austria: Final year students returned to school at the beginning of May and Matura exams went ahead from May 25th.

Belgium: In the French-speaking community, upper secondary graduation exams have been cancelled.

Bulgaria: State examinations took place 1st-4th June. Schools remain closed. Universities will finish the academic year online, including exams and assessment.

Croatia: State Matura exams took place in June.

Cyprus: Final year students returned to school on 11th May to prepare for the Pancyprian exams. The exams finished on 26th June. Primary school pupils and some other high school students returned to school on 21st May.

Czech Republic: Schools reopened for final year students on 11th May and exams took place in June.

Denmark: Upper secondary exams went ahead, but the number of exams was reduced.

European Baccalaureate: Exams have been cancelled.

Estonia: Schools reopened on 15th May for final year students. State examinations were optional and took place between 29th May and 5th June. The C1 English exams were held between 12th and 22nd June.

France: All final Baccalauréat examinations have been cancelled for each of the three streams (général, technologique and professionnel). Students’ grades were based on continuous assessment throughout their final year. Results were released on 7th July. Schools and universities will reopen in September; many universities will be offering blended learning.

Germany: Schools began to reopen gradually in some Länder from 20th April. Abitur exams went ahead and all results have been released. Students were able to choose whether to take university exams, which were offered in-person or online. Most universities are expected to start the new academic year online. Schools will reopen after the summer holidays, mostly with some blended delivery.

Greece: Schools reopened for final year students on 11th May. The Panhellenic exams began on 15th June, with results due to be released by the end of July.

Hungary: Schools and universities are closed, but exams for the Matura were held in May.

Ireland: Exams for the Leaving Certificate have been cancelled. Calculated grades will be released on 7th September.

Italy: Schools will not reopen until September. Written examinations for the Esame di Stato have been cancelled; students just took an oral exam. Oral exams took place from 17th June.

Latvia: State graduation exams took place from 2nd June to 3rd July.

Lithuania: Exams for the Brandos Atestatas have been postponed and will take place between 22nd June and 21st July.

Luxembourg: Final year secondary exams went ahead as planned from 25th May.

Malta: School and universities are closed for the rest of the academic year. Examinations for the Matriculation Certificate, which were due to take place in May, have been postponed until September.

Moldova: National exams for the Diploma de Bacalaureat have been cancelled.

Netherlands: Primary schools partially reopened on 11th May with secondary schools following from the beginning of June. All national exams for this school year were cancelled. Students will obtain their school leaving certificates based on their results in the school exams. School exams were held online where possible.

Norway: All written exams have been cancelled.

Poland: Schools reopened for some pupils on 24th May. The Matura exams took place between 8th and 29th June.

Portugal: Exames Nacionais do Ensino Secundário (ENES) exams went ahead in July, but only for the purpose of admission to higher education.

Romania: Only 8th and 12th grade students returned to school this academic year. It is likely that schools will partially reopen for the new academic year. Bacalaureat examinations went ahead as originally planned from 22nd June.

Russia: The Unified State Examinations have been postponed further until 3rd-23rd July. Students will not be required to pass these exams to obtain the Certificate of Secondary General Education; this was issued to all students in June. Schools will reopen for the new academic year on 1st September.

Slovakia: The written part of the Matura exam was cancelled.

Spain: The Evaluación de Bachillerato para el Acceso a la Universidad (EBAU) (university entrance exam) was postponed and took place in July. Schools will not fully reopen until September and this may be reviewed due to the recent increase in cases. Many universities are planning to continue to deliver courses online.

Switzerland: Exams were cancelled in some cantons.

Turkey: Schools are closed and will reopen on 31st August. The YKS (university entrance exams) was postponed until 27th-28th June.

Ukraine: All schools and universities are closed. The Independent External Examination (IEE) took place between 25th June and 17th July with an additional session 24th July to 10th August.

UK: All secondary school exams including the GCSE, AS and A Level; as well as the Scottish Highers, National 4 and 5 have been cancelled this year. Grades will be based mainly on school assessment.


Botswana: BGCSE exams have been cancelled.

Egypt: Final written exams for the Certificate of General Secondary Education (Thanawaya Amma ) are taking place between 21st June and 21st July. Exams for grades 10 and 11 were held online. Final university exams will be held between July and September. The new academic year will begin in October.

Ghana: Schools and universities reopened for final year students on 15th June. Written exams for the WASSCE are due to be held from 3rd August to 5th September.

Liberia: Schools reopened for final year students at the end of June so they can prepare for the WASSCE, which will begin on 17th August.

Morocco: Schools will remain closed until September, but final year Baccalauréat exams are took place in July.

Nigeria: Schools will reopen for exit years on 4th August, so students can prepare for the WASSCE, which will begin on 17th August. Exams for subjects only taken in Nigeria will be held in September. The National Examinations Council (NECO) postponed exams for the Senior School Certificate; new dates are expected to be announced shortly.

South Africa: Exams for the National Senior Certificate are held in November and are due to go ahead. Resits scheduled for May / June have been postponed. Schools reopened for grades 7 and 12 from 8th June.

Tunisia: Exams for the Baccalauréat were held in July. Universities reopened in June.

West African Examinations Council (WAEC) (Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia): Exams for the WASSCE are due to be held during August and September.


Bahrain: The Ministry of Education has cancelled final exams. The new academic year will start as planned in September, with distance learning continuing if necessary.

Israel: Matriculation exams went ahead in late June but students only took exams in five subjects.

Kuwait: Grade 12 students are studying online. Dates for final assessments have not yet been announced by the Ministry of Education, but in-person exams have been cancelled. Kuwait University will resume the 2019-20 academic year online in August.

Lebanon: Universities reopened in June and are holding exams.

Saudi Arabia: Schools are closed and the end of the academic year was brought forward to 14th May. The Ministry of Education has plans for a full resumption of face-to-face teaching, fully online delivery and a hybrid option for schools from 30th August, depending on the local situation.

Syria: Universities reopened in June and exams are being held. Final secondary school exams went ahead.

United Arab Emirates: Teaching and exams will take place online for the rest of the academic year. Schools will reopen in September.


Brazil: The ENEM, which was due to take place at the start of November, has been postponed. New dates have not yet been confirmed.

Caribbean: Offices of the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) are closed so certificates and transcripts cannot currently be printed. Exams scheduled for May and June have been postponed until July and the format will be modified. CAPE assessments started on 13th July and results will be released in September.

Chile: Schools and universities are currently closed. No announcements have yet been made regarding exams as these take place later in the year.

Uruguay: Schools have now reopened.

USA: The College Board has cancelled the SAT and SAT subject tests scheduled for 2nd May and 6th June. The ACT due to take place on April 4th was rearranged for 13th June and went ahead, but some test centres were closed. AP exams were taken online between 11th and 22nd May and June 1st and June 5th; results were released 15th to 17th July.


Australia: Exams for the Higher School Certificate in New South Wales will take place in October, five days later than originally planned. Exams for the VCE in Victoria will take place in early November. Exams in other states are currently due to go ahead but there may be further announcements closer to the scheduled dates of the exams.

New Zealand: NCEA exams will start on 16th November, instead of 6th November.


Cambridge International: all Cambridge IGCSE, International AS and A level and Pre-U exams worldwide in May and June have been cancelled.

International Baccalaureate: Exams due to take place in May 2020 were cancelled. Results, based on coursework and teacher assessment, were released on 6th July.

OxfordAQA: all exams for International GCSE, AS and A level qualifications in May and June have been cancelled.

Pearson: all International GCSE, AS or A level exams globally, due to be held in May and June, have been cancelled.

English language tests

One of the other principal challenges faced by students and admitting universities alike, will be access to Secure English Language Tests for visa purposes, as individuals are required to have attended an approved test centre.

Some SELT test providers are maintaining a list of current test centre closures. You can find out the latest through the dedicated COVID-19 pages on their websites:

Other English language test providers are also maintaining updates on their websites:

Further information

Further information on the resources available from UK NARIC to support our member organisations and diverse stakeholders across the globe can be found here.

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