A-level grade deflation continues but universities accept record numbers

The number of students accepted on to university courses is up 9 per cent despite a fall in the number of top grades awarded at A level.

August 15, 2013

As of midnight, 385,910 had been accepted on to courses according to the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, up from 354,310 in 2012.

Yet the proportion of top A* grades awarded fell from 7.9 per cent to 7.6 per cent, the second year running it has dropped. A total of 26.3 per cent of A-level entries were awarded an A or A* grade, also fractionally down from last year.

However, the proportion gaining a grade B or above was up, from 52.4 per cent to 52.8 per cent.  

This last figure could be important for universities seeking applicants with ABB or above at A level – the threshold above which institutions can recruit as many students as they want.

A fall in top grades last year was one factor contributing to an overall drop in acceptances on to courses. Undergraduate numbers in 2012-13 were 13 per cent down on the previous year, a drop also attributed to universities making fewer offers and a smaller number of students applying.

However, the big rise in the number of students accepted so far suggests that universities may be on the road to avoiding under-recruitment, possibly by making more offers, although institutions do risk fines if they heavily over-recruit.

The rise in acceptances also means that students hoping to gain a place through clearing may have fewer options open to them, although fewer may need to use the service.

Mary Curnock Cook, Ucas chief executive, said: “Demand for higher education has recovered after a dip last year and universities are keen to accept qualified applicants.”

The proportion of A-level entries awarded A*-E was 98.1 per cent, up for the 31st successive year.

The growth in entries for maths, science and technology subjects continued, but there was another drop in the number of students taking French and German – down 9.9 per cent and 11.1 per cent respectively.

david.matthews@tsleducation.com

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