Most applicants secure university places after A-level U-turn

Ucas says fewer than 1,500 students who missed out on their preferred institution are still unplaced

September 11, 2020
Hand opening old door
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More than 13,000 UK students who originally missed out on a place at their university of choice have secured their entry to higher education after ministers’ U-turn on A-level grading.

Admissions service Ucas estimated that up to 15,000 A-level students who did not have their firm choice confirmed on results day may have subsequently achieved the terms of their offer following the decision to abandon a much-derided standardisation algorithm and to base grades on teacher estimates instead.

Of these, 13,050 – 87 per cent – were now placed at the firm or insurance choice or, after entering clearing, at an institution with similar or higher entry requirements.

Fewer than 1,500 applicants whose grades were uplifted were yet to secure places, Ucas said, highlighting that many courses carried other conditions, such as professional tests, which these students may not have met.

According to Ucas, a total of 174,000 A-level, BTEC and Scottish Higher students who applied to higher education had their grades increased after the ministerial U-turns.

It has calculated that 89 per cent of those – 155,000 – were now placed at either their original firm or insurance choice or had used clearing to find a place on a course at an institution in the same tariff banding as their original firm choice.

The latest Ucas data show that a record 508,090 applicants have been placed at a UK institution this year.

Clare Marchant, chief executive of Ucas, said universities and colleges “moved quickly and flexibly to confirm places for students who are qualified with their revised grades”.

“Universities and colleges continue to contact students and assess the capacity they have to run courses in 2020 in a safe way,” she said.

“We expect more students to be confirmed in the coming days at their original choice, but we also know that some students will have made a new choice in clearing and will be looking to retain that place and commence their studies in the coming weeks. Some students will have also made other plans and may not choose to take up their place this year, something that happens every year.”

Ms Marchant added that “we, as a sector, are still focused on securing the best possible outcome for students who received revised results”.

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