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1,500 students still missing out on courses after A-levels crisis

Ucas reveals number of students looking for university places

Around 1,500 students who lost university offers after the A-levels fiasco have still not secured a place, according to an analysis by admissions body Ucas.

In August, Ucas revealed that around 15,000 students who did not meet their course offers when calculated grades were published, and did not have their places confirmed, then met their original offers after calculated grades were scrapped. In its latest analysis, Ucas said that of those students, around 87 per cent have now secured a university place—but 10 per cent have still not been placed.

Roughly 155,000 of the 174,000 students whose results went up after calculated A-level grades were scrapped have secured a place at either their first choice university or their insurance institution, or they have found a place on a course with the same entry tariff for through clearing. Around 19,000 students had their results increased as a result of the exams debacle.

Clare Marchant, chief executive of Ucas, said some students would have made other plans and chosen not to go on to higher education this year, which is “something that happens every year”.

“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,” she said.

School leavers were initially awarded calculated grades as exams were cancelled this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It meant students were given a grade by their teachers, which was then moderated by an external exam board.

But almost 40 per cent of teacher-assessed grades were pushed down, and the algorithm used to moderate grades meant that students at schools with poor performance in the past were more likely to have their results downgraded.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson then performed a U-turn and dropped calculated grades, leaving students with their teacher-assessed grades instead. It meant many students saw their A-level grades increase and universities were told to offer students a place at their first-choice institution either this year, deferred to next year, or a place on a different course.

Marchant added: “We are pleased to report that universities and colleges have moved quickly and flexibly to confirm places for students who are qualified with their revised grades.”

Speaking at the Universities UK online conference on 10 September, Gavin Williamson thanked universities for their “truly remarkable” efforts in finding course places for extra students with revised grades this summer.