Tens of 1000’s of scholars who will choose up their A-level outcomes on Thursday face a last-minute scramble to safe locations at UK universities, a lot of which have warned that competitors shall be fierce and locations onerous to search out for the most well-liked programs.
On the eve of outcomes day for A-levels, BTecs and the federal government’s new T-levels, college admissions groups reported a surge in curiosity from college students on the lookout for locations via clearing, a course of that matches unplaced college students with unfilled programs.
In what is anticipated to be a turbulent 12 months for admissions, A-level ends in England, Wales and Northern Eire are anticipated to drop sharply after the federal government intervened to rein in grade inflation during the last two years of teacher-assessed grades.
The primary cohort to take a seat A-levels with out doing GCSE exams, which have been cancelled due to the pandemic, are anticipated to do higher on common than in 2019 when exams have been final sat. However grades are more likely to be considerably decrease than final 12 months, when nearly 45% of all A-levels have been graded A or A*.
Faculties that benefited from the largest grade uplift throughout the pandemic are more likely to see the sharpest falls, amongst them unbiased colleges the place the proportion of prime grades rose by 9 proportion factors to 70%, in contrast with six proportion factors elsewhere.
Headteachers within the state sector – who’ve had early sight of their outcomes, which went out to varsities on Wednesday – have been cautiously optimistic, reporting few surprises and in some circumstances higher than anticipated outcomes. Uncertainty stays round college locations, nevertheless, with increased demand from a much bigger cohort and conservative offer-making from main establishments.
An evaluation from the Liberal Democrats urged 75,000 A-level entries could be downgraded from A and A* as a result of adjustments to grade boundaries. The analysis, primarily based on a simplified model of examination boards’ grading course of that pulls a inflexible midpoint between 2021 and pre-pandemic grading, suggests some topics could also be worse affected than others.
Arithmetic, sociology, regulation, English and enterprise research had the smallest discount in A and A* grades, whereas music, drama, Spanish, performing arts and PE had the largest. There was a broad development in the direction of humanities topics being extra affected by the shifting grade boundaries.
Mark Corver, founding father of dataHE, which advises universities on admissions, stated he anticipated “the hole between expectations and outcomes is perhaps very broad this 12 months”, on condition that the present cohort had seen their barely older friends “going to selective universities in document numbers”.
“It wouldn’t have been unreasonable in the event that they envisaged an analogous future for themselves, however that’s fairly unlikely to happen,” he stated. He added that this 12 months’s admissions cycle would really feel like a step backwards, nearer to the “supply-constrained” years of 2010-12, and reversing “a decade of primarily rising pupil selection”.
The college admissions service, Ucas, expects “the bulk” of scholars will achieve a spot at their first selection college, however the scenario on the bottom continues to be fluid.
Ella Kirkbride, the top of admissions on the College of Hull, stated: “We anticipate demand for locations via clearing shall be excessive. That is already mirrored within the numbers who’ve signed up for our clearing updates – which is up by 228%.”
Loughborough, Hull, Northumbria, De Montfort and Nottingham Trent universities all reported extra curiosity and inquiries from college students in switching programs in clearing.
Nick Hudson, the chief government officer of Ormiston Academies Belief, was hopeful most of his college students would get the locations they have been aiming for. “We’re seeing sturdy outcomes above the typical grades achieved in 2019 and in step with 2020 when exams weren’t taken – and that applies to college students throughout the board together with those that are high-performing and those that are deprived.”
Larger training insiders say there’s sufficient capability throughout the sector as an entire to offset the restricted provide on the most selective universities, with area at lower-ranked establishments, a lot of which have bold development plans in addition to locations freed up by a fall in part-time and mature pupil purposes.
They’re additionally cautioning college students who’re sad with their gives to assume onerous earlier than deferring and reapplying subsequent 12 months, warning an additional enhance in 18-year-olds within the UK subsequent 12 months means software numbers are more likely to be even increased and competitors larger.