December 9 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, August 15, 2013
Today promises to be a day of smiles and tears as thousands of students receive their A-level results, and make decisions which could affect the rest of their lives.
For many, the first indication of how they have fared will come when they log on to the University and College Admissions Service (Ucas) website from 8am to see if they have been offered a university place.
Those who have lower-than-hoped-for grades are likely to enter the clearing process, which matches students without offers to universities with vacant places.
Some with higher-then-expected grades could enter the more recently-introduced adjustment process, where they can shop around for places at universities with higher entry requirements.
The University of East Anglia said it has 100-150 places available across all faculties, while the Norwich University of the Arts said it is oversubscribed and has not entered the clearing process.
But although today is results day for students, the process started earlier for universities, schools and college.
Ucas sent exam results to universities last weekend, allowing admissions tutors to find out who met their offer, and decide whether to admit students who missed their grades.
It can be a complex process, with individual faculties often keen to admit more students – and the funding that comes with them – but universities keen to keep numbers within government quotas to avoid financial penalties.
The adjustment process has added another layer of uncertainty.
A spokesman for the University of East Anglia said: “Clearing has changed considerably in recent years and there is much more activity around the release of A-level results than in the past.
“Where it was once viewed as simply the route for students with lower grades than expected to find places at less-highly ranked universities, now it has also become a real opportunity for high-performing students to ‘trade-up’ to a more desirable university or course and for universities to attract even more well-qualified students to fill remaining spaces.”
This year the government is allowing universities to recruit unlimited numbers of students with at least ABB A-level grades, while tightening restrictions for students with lower grades.
Record numbers of universities in the elite Russell Group are entering clearing, with some offering inducements such as iPads to tempt the brightest students, a route the UEA said it was not going down.
For schools and colleges, the results process started in the early hours of Wednesday, after Ucas allowed them to download their students’ results from its website from midnight.
For Rob Anthony, associate headteacher at the Hewett School in Norwich, it was an excuse to stay up late watching a film before downloading the results as soon as they are ready.
Wednesday is then a day of checking results, contacting exam boards to rectify mistakes, printing results sheets and preparing advice for those who may face disappointment the following day.
Exam boards ask schools whether they want results emailed directly to students.
Mr Anthony said: “We considered it but decided not to because we think the advice and guidance you get at the point of results is absolutely vital. Whether you have achieved what you want or missed out by a grade, it’s useful to have someone to talk it through with.”
He said that last year one student missed her university place because one grade slipped from an A to a B. However, the school spotted she was only one mark off the higher grade and asked the exam board to remark it, which saw her upgraded and secure the university place she wanted.
One education expert predicted A-level results could rise slightly today as “practically-minded” students turn to vocational courses and apprenticeships.
Alan Smithers of Buckingham University said: “The more practically-minded in the past may have been encouraged to take A-levels, and haven’t done well. Now they’re transferring to practical qualifications and that could affect the overall pass rate.”