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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: 25th January 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 25th January 2022, UNESCO found that schools and universities in 11 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: Schools and colleges reopened from 12th September; universities remain closed. Cambridge International A level and O level exams did not go ahead in 2021. Secondary School Certificate and Higher Secondary Certificate exams were held in November and December respectively, after being delayed for over 6 months.

Brunei Darussalam: A phased reopening of school begins in January 2022.

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

China: Schools and universities are open as normal, except in Xi’an, where a local lockdown is in place.

Hong Kong: Primary schools and nurseries have suspended classes until after Chinese New Year.

India: Schools, colleges and universities in some states are currently closed. In many cases, schools are only open for Grade 11 and 12 students, with other years studying online. 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, with the second to follow 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 have been extended until late January.

Malaysia: Schools reopened in stages from the beginning of October. Tertiary institutions are also able to allow students to return to campus from October. Institutions with high vaccination rates are 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 continue to offer face-to-face classes on a rotation basis.

Myanmar: Schools reopened in November. Exams are being held in January. Higher education institutions also began to reopen in January.

Nepal: Schools and higher education institutions are closed until the end of January. Grade 12 exams were held in September. Exams at Tribhuvan University went ahead.

Pakistan: Schools and universities reopened on 16th September.

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. A level exams have been postponed again and are now due to be held 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.

Vietnam: Schools began the new academic year in September with online teaching in many areas. Schools in Hanoi are teaching online at present and schools in Ho Chi Min City are due to reopen after the new year holiday.


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

Belgium: Secondary schools have returned to hybrid learning.

Bulgaria: Schools are open.

Croatia: Schools are open following the winter break.

Cyprus: Schools fully reopened for in-person classes in September.

Czech Republic: Schools are open.

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

European Baccalaureate: Exams went ahead in 2021.

Estonia: Schools are teaching in-person.

France: Students in schools at all levels are attending classes in-person. In 2021, students only sat a final Baccalauréat examinations in philosophy and an oral exam. Exams in their two specialisation subjects were cancelled. For analysis of the results of the 2021 Baccalauréat, please see our post How have this year’s exam results been affected by changes to assessment?

Germany: Schools fully reopened before the summer and remain open. Abitur exams went ahead, but slightly later than usual in some states.

Greece: Schools are currently open.

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

Ireland: Schools fully reopened at the end of August / beginning of September. Leaving Cert exams went ahead in 2021, but students were offered the choice of whether to sit the exams or receive a grade accredited by the State Examinations Commission (SEC).

Italy: Schools are teaching in-person classes. Written exams for the Esame di Stato were cancelled and replaced by an oral exam, as in 2020, but this year performance across the three years of upper secondary will also count towards the final grade. For analysis of the results of the 2021 Esame di Stato, please see our post How have this year’s exam results been affected by changes to assessment?

Latvia: Schools reopened with in-person teaching in September. All students were studying remotely before the summer break. Exams were held in May. Grade 12 students will not have a mandatory fourth exam in 2021 and 2022.

Lithuania: Schools are open.

Luxembourg: Schools reopened in September. The content for end-of-school exams was reduced by 15% in 2021. The University of Luxembourg is delivering courses through a hybrid model combining online and small group teaching.

Moldova: Schools are open. Final secondary school exams took place from 4th– 22nd June 2021.

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. The State Exam was adapted and consisted of two external and two internal exams plus a project task.

Norway: Schools and universities returned to face-to-face teaching in the normal way from September. Written exams were cancelled in 2021.

Poland: Schools resumed normal classes after the summer break. Matura exams took place in May. Students only sat written exams; oral exams were cancelled.

Portugal: Schools were closed in January 2021 and reopened in mid-April. They have remained fully open since then.

Romania: Schools only partially reopened after the autumn break, as only schools with 60% of staff vaccinated are permitted to open.

Russia: Face-to-face teaching resumed in schools in January 2021 and in universities in February 2021. Exams for upper secondary students went ahead in the usual format.

Slovakia: Schools have fully reopened. External exams for the Maturita were cancelled for 2021.

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.

Ukraine: Schools are currently closed in areas with high infection rates.

UK: Schools are fully open. Some blended provision is being offered in universities. In Scotland, National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher exams were cancelled for 2021. GCSE, AS and A level exams were cancelled in England, Northern Ireland and Wales. Our blog article How have this year’s exam results been affected by changes to assessment? looks at 2021 A level results. It is planned that exams will go ahead in 2022. Contingency plans have been released, in the event that exams need to be cancelled.


Algeria: Schools are currently closed for a 10-day period. 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.

Ghana: Schools are now open. Exams for the WASSCE are scheduled took place between August and October.

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 reopened for the new school year on 20th March.

Nigeria: Schools resumed and universities and colleges opened for students in January 2021. WASSCE exams were held in August / September.

South Africa: Schools are partially 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 will sit them in the November exam session. Results for the November 2020 exams, which were held later than usual, were released in April.


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 has been postponed.

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


Bahamas: Schools will open with hybrid teaching in January 2022.

Barbados: Schools began the new term online in January 2022, with plans to return to in-person classes later in the month.

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 are fully open from 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, June 17th 2021. AP exams were held between May 3rd and June 11th.


Australia: Schools are now open, but currently there is a break before the start of the new academic year. 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.

International Baccalaureate: 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. In 2022, exams are planned to go ahead as usual.

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

Pearson: International GCSE, AS and A level exams originally due to take place in May / June 2021 were cancelled. Exams are due to go ahead in 2022.

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.

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