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: 3rd May 2022. The latest updates are shown in blue.]

A summary of school closures and exam arrangements.

At Ecctis, we have been tracking delays to exams at secondary and higher education level since March 2020.

We compiled all of the information we gathered on assessment at secondary level in 2020 for over 120 different qualifications into a comprehensive report: COVID-19: Guide to International Secondary Assessment in 2020. The report also analyses the different approaches to assessment and looks at the effects on student performance and grading.

In 2021, education globally continued to be affected by the pandemic, and information on disruption to exams in summer 2021 can be found in our latest report: The Effects of COVID-19 on International Secondary Assessment: Summer 2021 Update.

We are continuing to monitor developments around the world into 2022. For the latest updates, a summary by country can be found below.

As of 28th February 2022, UNESCO found that schools and universities in 6 countries are closed at a national level. Many others have partial school closures, with a combination of in-person and remote learning in place.


Afghanistan: Students continue to have hybrid in-person and distance learning measures in place. Education has also experienced disruption since the Taliban takeover in August 2021.

Bangladesh: Higher Secondary Certificate exams are scheduled to go ahead in late August, around 4 months later than usual. Schools and colleges are open.

Brunei Darussalam: A phased reopening of schools began in January 2022.

Cambodia: Schools started to gradually reopen from mid-September. Grade 12 exams took place in December.

China: Schools and universities in some cities, including Shanghai, have been closed as part of lockdown measures to contain recent outbreaks. The May break will be extended by at least one week in Beijing.

Hong Kong: School summer holidays have been brought forward and will last from 7th March until after Easter. HKDSE exams started on 22nd April as planned.

India: Schools, colleges and universities are open. Standard 12 exams for many boards were held in April. CBSE Standard 10 and Standard 12 exams will take place in two sessions, with 50% of syllabus assessed in each. The first set of exams were held in November / December 2021, and the second in March / April 2022.

Indonesia: Most schools and universities are currently teaching in a blended mode; restrictions vary between regions. Higher education institutions are permitted to offer face-to-face teaching if they are able to put specific measures in place. In most cases, lectures are still online with some in-person classes.

Japan: Schools are currently open. In universities, some classes are face-to-face and some teaching is online. Japanese students are still being advised not to study abroad and exchange programmes remain suspended. International students are now permitted to enter Japan, but numbers are restricted.

Kazakhstan: Schools reopened with face-to-face teaching in September. Winter holidays for schools and universities were extended until late January.

Malaysia: Schools reopened in stages from the beginning of October. Institutions with high vaccination rates were permitted to offer full in-person teaching for secondary school students in exam years, other students will attend on rotation. Those with lower rates of vaccination will offered face-to-face classes on a rotation basis. Most schools reopened fully, without rotations, for the new term from 21st March. Higher education institutions began a staggered return to campus at the beginning of March.

Myanmar: Lower and upper secondary exams were held in March, and matriculation exams in April. Higher education institutions began to reopen in January but exam dates have not been confirmed yet.

Nepal: Schools and higher education institutions started to reopen from mid-February. Grade 12 exams are being held between 29th April and 8th May. Grade 12 exams for 2021 were held in September.

Pakistan: Schools and universities are open and exams are going ahead.

Philippines: The new academic year began in September with a policy of blended learning in schools. Approval will be required to conduct in-person classes. In practice, schools, colleges and universities remain closed.

Singapore: Schools and universities are open.

South Korea: Schools returned to full capacity in November 2021, but remote learning was reintroduced in the capital in December. Some other parts of the country have hybrid arrangements in place as schools operate at reduced capacity.

Sri Lanka: Schools reopened for all classes in November. 2021 A level exams were postponed from August but went ahead in February 2022. University admissions processes are likely to be delayed and many universities have postponed degree conferral ceremonies until further notice.

Taiwan: Schools and universities are open.

Thailand: Schools in some provinces may be closed and return to online learning. Schools in most areas are open. Universities are allowed to teach on-campus with suitable measures in place.

Uzbekistan: Schools and universities switched to online learning on 24th January and continue to teach remotely.

Vietnam: Schools began the new academic year in September with online teaching in many areas. Schools in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and other major cities are teaching online at present.


Austria: Schools are fully open with a variety of measures in place depending on the number of cases reported locally. Exams are going ahead as normal.

Belgium: Secondary schools are now fully open and exams unaffected.

Bulgaria: Schools are open and exams unaffected.

Croatia: Schools are open and exams unaffected.

Cyprus: Schools fully reopened for in-person classes in September and this year’s exams are going ahead as normal.

Czech Republic: Schools are open and exams unaffected.

Denmark: Schools reopened for the new academic year in September and remain open.

European Baccalaureate: Exams in 2022 are unaffected.

Estonia: Schools are teaching in-person and exams are unaffected.

France: Students in schools at all levels are attending classes in-person and exams are going ahead.

Germany: Schools fully reopened before the summer and remain open. Abitur exams are unaffected.

Greece: Schools are currently open and exams unaffected.

Hungary: Schools fully reopened in September and have remained open.

Ireland: Schools fully reopened at the end of August / beginning of September. Exams for the Leaving Cert are going ahead this year.

Italy: Schools are teaching in-person classes. Written exams for the Esame di Stato will go ahead this year.

Latvia: Schools reopened with in-person teaching in September. Grade 12 students will not have a mandatory fourth exam in 2022.

Lithuania: Schools are open and exams affected.

Luxembourg: Schools reopened in September. The University of Luxembourg is delivering courses through a hybrid model combining online and small group teaching.

Moldova: Schools are open and final secondary school exams are going ahead as normal.

Montenegro: Schools have been fully open since the start of the academic year.

Netherlands: There have been no restrictions on on-site teaching since September.

North Macedonia: Schools fully reopened for in-person classes in September 2021.

Norway: Schools and universities returned to face-to-face teaching in the normal way from September. Written exams for the Vitnemål (upper secondary school leaving certificate) have been cancelled for 2022.

Poland: Schools resumed normal classes after the summer break. Matura exams are going ahead as normal this year.

Portugal: Schools are open. Final exams are only taken by students who wish to access higher education.

Romania: Schools are fully open and Bacalaureat exams are not affected this year.

Russia: Exams for upper secondary students are in the usual format this year.

Slovakia: Schools have fully reopened. External exams for the Maturita are going ahead in 2022.

Spain: Schools fully reopened in September.

Sweden: Schools and universities reopened as normal in September.

Switzerland: Universities were allowed to resume face-to-face teaching at the start of the new academic year. Many institutions also offer online teaching as they require Covid certificates for students attending in-person.

Turkey: Schools reopened with full-time face-to-face learning in September.

UK: Schools are fully open. Some blended provision is being offered in universities. Exams will go ahead in 2022. Contingency plans have been released, in the event that exams need to be cancelled. Advance information for the exams was released by exam boards in early February.


Algeria: Schools have reopened following a 10-day closure in January. Schools reopened for the new academic year on 21st September 2021 with restrictions on class sizes and some pupils attending on alternate days.

Botswana: Schools reopened in a phased manner at the beginning of September.

Egypt: The start of the new school year was pushed back to mid-October but schools are now open.

Ethiopia: Schools are now open. The 2020 University Entrance Examination was held in February 2021 and the 2021 exam was held in November 2021.

Ghana: Schools are now open. Exams for the WASSCE will take place in May 2022.

Kenya: Schools are open.

Morocco: The mode of study for the start of the new academic year in September varied by institution, depending on the local situation and whether social distancing was possible. Schools are now open.

Mozambique: Schools are open.

Nigeria: WAEC has announced that WASSCE exams will take place in May 2022.

South Africa: Schools are now open. NSC exams went ahead in October and November.

Tunisia: Schools fully reopened for the new academic year in September.

Uganda: Schools have now reopened, many for the first time since March 2020.

Zambia: Schools and universities have fully reopened.

Zimbabwe: University exams in July were disrupted by a rise in cases. A level and O level exams in June 2021 were cancelled; students sat them in the November exam session.


Bahrain: Schools reopened in mid-March but online learning is also being offered. The University of Bahrain is teaching online, except for practical subjects that require use of labs and technical equipment.

Iran: The Konkur (university entrance exam) was held in June.

Israel: Schools reopened for the new academic year on 1st September.

Jordan: Schools and universities have been able to teach in-person since the beginning of September.

Kuwait: In-person teaching resumed at the end of September / beginning of October.

Lebanon: Schools reopened gradually for in-person classes from the end of September.

Oman: Schools are partially open and offering blended delivery. Final year students are being taught face-to-face. Universities are teaching online, but students may have access to laboratories.

Qatar: Students returned to classrooms for the new academic year in September.

Saudi Arabia: Secondary school students who are fully vaccinated have returned to in-person classes. It was planned that primary school pupils would follow once 70% of the population have received a second dose of the vaccine, or by the end of October, but this was postponed.

United Arab Emirates: Most schools started the new academic year with in-person classes for all students.


Bahamas: Schools reopened with hybrid teaching in January 2022.

Barbados: Schools began the new term online in January 2022, and returned to in-person classes in late February.

Bolivia: Schools began to reopen in February, but remain closed in some areas.

Brazil: School reopening is decided at state level; most have now reopened. Private schools are offered hybrid delivery; state schools reopened later and remain closed in some areas.

Canada: Schools are now open across the country. Arrangements have varied between provinces, with some providing online or blended learning for some students at the beginning of this academic year, and others opening schools for all students full-time.

Caribbean: CXC exams took place in June / July.

Chile: Some schools have reopened, while others, especially public schools, remain closed.

Colombia: Schools are now open.

Guyana: Primary schools have been fully open since September; individual arrangements are in place for secondary schools.

Jamaica: There was a staggered reopening of schools from September onwards.

Mexico: Schools are starting to reopen after being closed in the majority of areas since March 2020. Schools are teaching via distance learning where possible. Universities are permitted to make their own decisions about when to reopen and how to deliver courses, in line with any national guidelines.

Uruguay: Schools are open.

USA: The majority of schools have offered full in-person teaching since September.

The ACT was held on February 6th, April 17th, June 12th and June 17th 2021. AP exams were held between May 3rd and June 11th 2021. AP exams are being held as paper-and-pencil tests in 2022 over 2 weeks in May (2nd-6th and 9th– 13th).


Australia: Schools are now open. HSC exams started on 9th November; they were originally scheduled for October.

New Zealand: NCEA exams went ahead, but students in Auckland, Waikato and Northland will also receive Unexpected Event Grades (UEGs) based on evidence submitted to the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) by teachers. If these students chose to sit the exams, the higher of the two grades will stand. Some areas are at alert level 3, meaning schools are only open for some students. The rest of the country is at alert level 2 and schools are open.


Cambridge International: June 2021 exams went ahead, unless it was not possible due to government restrictions. The same arrangement is currently in place for exams in 2022. Where exams cannot go ahead, grades will be based on portfolios of evidence marked by examiners.

International Baccalaureate: In 2022, exams are planned to go ahead as usual. In 2021, two assessment routes were available (an examination route and a non-examination route) depending on whether schools in different countries were able to administer exams safely.

OxfordAQA: Exams are due to go ahead in 2022. OxfordAQA exams in May / June 2021 were cancelled.

Pearson: Exams are due to go ahead in 2022. International GCSE, AS and A level exams originally due to take place in May / June 2021 were 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 Ecctis to support our member organisations and diverse stakeholders across the globe can be found here.

4 Thoughts

  1. Really useful intel. Would be helpful if flags were added to indicate where the most recent updates have been made.

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