Changes to UCAS References: Morrisby Updates for Schools
UCAS is making some changes to references for courses starting in 2024, with the desired outcome of giving university admissions staff more meaningful, tailored information about their applicants and giving school coordinators fewer references to collate.
At Morrisby we are responding to this change by adjusting the references tool on Morrisby Higher to help you streamline your UCAS administration.
What are the reference changes?
UCAS have announced that references will now have three distinct sections:
- General statement about your school/college/centre (compulsory)
- Extenuating circumstances
- Other supportive information
You can use 4,000 characters or 47 lines of text (including spaces, blank lines, and headings) across all three sections. It is expected that not all applicants will have sections 2 and 3 completed.
Tell me more about each section…
1. General statement about your school/college/centre (compulsory)
As the only compulsory section, this general statement should be a template for use for all students and should include information about your educational setting, including:
- School context: school performance, intake demographics, progression rates to higher education
- Qualification provision portfolio: detail any subject option restrictions for students
- School events which may affect academic performance: such as staff changes or building damage
- Predicted grades policies/processes
2. Extenuating circumstances (optional)
An optional section, this should articulate any circumstances the admissions tutors need to be aware of which may have an effect on the achievements of the applicant.
This section should not only contain information that the exam board has been notified about.
For example, it should contain:
- Individual circumstances: disability, serious, acute, or chronic illness, bereavement, significant adverse personal circumstances (with applicant consent), mature student
- Academic trajectory: contextualise any disparities between an individual’s grades achieved throughout the school or college (e.g. at GCSE/ Scottish national 4/5 equivalent and predicted grades, where applicable)
- Subject limitations: factors which have limited the individual’s choice of subjects or study load at RQF Level 3/SCQF Level 6 or equivalent (factors which have affected the whole centre should be included in section 1)
- Support: support the institution could put in place to ensure the applicant can thrive on their course (with applicant’s consent). Detail the measures put in place to ensure the student’s inclusion/experience
3. Other supportive information (optional)
Include a supporting statement which is specific to the student and is relevant to the course they have applied for.
You might like to include:
- Subject specific details: suitability for the course based on performance and academic ability in RQF Level 3/SCQF Level 6 or equivalent subjects which are relevant to the course applied for. Subject references for areas not related to the degree subject are not required
- Work experience: relevant to the course, and including any barriers the student has faced in obtaining relevant work experience for courses where work experience is a requirement of entry
- Strong performers: information about students who are the strongest in their cohort or extracurricular activities
I need more help!
There is guidance on the UCAS website to help you navigate these new requirements, including some FAQs; see changes to undergraduate references for 2024 entry. Additionally, UCAS have created some UCAS reference examples for 2024 applications.
What are the changes on Morrisby?
School staff will still be able to administer the references on Morrisby Higher and use the platform to gather the information required from other colleagues across the educational setting.
We are in the process of creating a new interface for this to happen. This includes three distinct sections:
- School-wide statement: which can be applied to every student with a click
- Extenuating circumstances: with the facility to set a teacher to complete it, plus one click toggles to show if this section is required for this student and to mark it as complete
- Other supporting information: with one click toggles to show if this section is required for this student and to mark it as complete
For section 3, you will be able to assign the appropriate teacher to each of the subject references you want to collect, plus an ‘any other information’ text box you can assign to any school staff who may have further information about a student to support their application. All these bits of information can then be combined into the text box for section 3 to create the other supporting information entry.
As the new references do not affect students applying via the Conservatoire route, the existing references application will also be available. UCAS guidance on how to write UCAS conservatoires references is provided on the UCAS website.
A little sneak preview (subject to change)…
We have a UCAS webinar arranged for you to find out more about the changes to the references section on Morrisby Higher, at 2pm on 2nd May. Book your place here.