What are Top-Ranked Universities Doing to Adapt Their Admissions Processes?

admissions processes coronavirus

Wondering how your competitors are adjusting their university admission policies in the wake of the coronavirus? We detail how top-ranked universities are adapting their admissions processes. 

Universities across the globe are adapting swiftly in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak: closing campuses, moving to online learning platforms, and adapting admissions processes.  

Many universities are looking to their peers and competitors to see how they’re addressing students’ concerns and needs, and what further initiatives they could implement.  

To learn more about how universities are responding to the coronavirus crisis, please download our recent report: The Impact of the Coronavirus on Global Higher Education 

If you’re a student, our companion piece, University Admissions: How Will COVID-19 Affect My Application, can answer all your questions and provide a full list of university admission policies.  

Below, we’ve detailed how the globe’s top ten ranked universities are adapting their admissions processes and policies in this current climate.  

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 

Last year, MIT was ranked in first place for the eighth consecutive year in the 2020 QS World University Rankings.  

This top-ranked institution has assured students whose education has been interrupted by COVID-19 that they will not be penalized in the admissions process. 

While its on-campus admissions office is closed, MIT admissions staff are still answering emails and phone calls.  

All information sessions and tours for prospective students are cancelled. 

Stanford University  

Coming in second in the rankings, Stanford University has been consistently leading the pack when it comes to global rankings.  

For the next academic year, applications are still being processed, but the Stanford Office of Undergraduate Admission has been closed until further notice. 

Applicants can still contact the office via email.  

The institution’s visitor center has also been closed and all tours, programs, and information sessions for prospective students have been cancelled. 

Harvard University 

Harvard University is offering a virtual alternative to students with its Visitas weekend (Harvard’s weekend for admitted students) now being held online.  

For international students, those who have been invited to study at Harvard have been told to contact their academic department for more information.  

The admissions office is closed but its staff can still be contacted via email and phone. As with the other institutions, information sessions and tours have been cancelled.   

University of Oxford 

The University of Oxford is waiting on further guidance from the UK government on how qualifications will be awarded, given that schools are closed and exams have been cancelled.  

The renowned institution will be providing more information to both domestic and international offer holders as soon as possible.  

Prospective graduate students can fill out an online form if they have any queries, and graduate applications are still being processed.  

For those students who need to complete an English language test, Oxford currently has a deadline in the UK’s summer. If test centers don’t open in time, the institution states that it will offer additional guidance on how international students can proceed.  

California Institute of Technology  

The California Institute of Technology (otherwise known as Caltech) will continue to accept international students. 

However, all arrivals at the university will have to adhere to self-quarantine guidelines. 

Campus visits and admission-related activities have been cancelled until further notice.  

ETH Zurich 

Ranked sixth in the annual QS World University Rankings, ETH Zurich is Europe’s highest ranked institution.  

The university has decided to close its campus to all staff and students, so prospective students will be unable to visit the university in person. 

However, prospective students can contact the university via email if they have any questions about admissions. 

University of Cambridge  

The University of Cambridge has advised any UK students with an offer to wait for further information from the university.  

The university has stated that it’s working hard to minimize the impact on admissions, and is consulting with UCAS and other bodies, while waiting for further government advice.   

As with Oxford, international students who need to meet English language requirements should closely follow when test centers will reopen.  

The university also states that all offer holders should keep a log of any disruption they experience, so the university can treat all candidates equitably. The institution may request this information in the future.  

All events and open days have been cancelled until further notice. 

University College London 

University College London (UCL) is still processing and accepting applications from international students. 

UCL accepts several English language tests as proof of eligibility, including through the Duolingo app 

The university has stated that it’s doing everything it can to limit the impact of COVID-19 on the admissions process, and that applications are being processed as quickly as possible.  

UCL also states that it’s currently not in a position to confirm how any extenuating circumstances (e.g. online learning) will affect grade offers.  

Imperial College London 

For those new students who are worried about obtaining or renewing a visa, Imperial is providing an International Student Support team to answer any queries.  

If students experience delays, their situation will be assessed on a case by case basis and Imperial may offer students the ability to start their program at a later date 

Imperial states that any impact on exam results will also be considered when assessing applications, and that all offer holders will be informed of any developments.   

Imperial stresses that applications are being processed as quickly as feasible and that any interviews will be conducted via video call. 

The institution’s current deadline for English language test results is July 16, but this may be changed if test centers don’t reopen soon. 

University of Chicago  

The University of Chicago has confirmed that all on-campus activities have been cancelled. 

All classes are now taught online and prospective students and applicants cannot visit the university in person.  

All in-person admissions programs and interactions have been cancelled and the Office of Graduate Admissions has been closed to the public on campus. 

However, the office’s staff are available to help prospective students via email or phone and the university is also offering the opportunity to schedule one-on-one Zoom meetings with its admissions team. 

To find out more about the initiatives universities are implementing to address the COVID-19 crisis, please download our recent report: The Impact of the Coronavirus on Global Higher Education. 


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