Students still face new grades scramble for university places

Students are still facing doubt over their futures as universities seek to find places for them after the government U-turn on grades.

Higher education establishments are dealing with a surge of demand for places from students initially rejected due to their original results last week.

The University of East Anglia said it was seeking urgent clarification following the U-turn and was waiting to hear from admissions service UCAS how universities will receive the new centre assessed grades.

It said it was working to provide as much “certainty for students as possible” within Government imposed limits on some highly subscribed courses like medicine.

MORE: ‘Exams mess apology is an insult’ - Student hits out after grading U-turnProf Richard Harvey, academic director for admissions, said: “For students it is great but the thing that we are all worried about in the university sector is that we’re full, so what to do now?

“The problem is particularly acute in medicine where this announcement was very welcome but I haven’t yet seen an announcement about how the Government proposes to unblock medical places.”

Education secretary Gavin Williamson acknowledged that universities face challenges after the Government announced that A-level students can use teachers’ assessed grades rather than moderated grades awarded last week.

He said: “We’ve set up a task force with the university sector - how can we boost their capacity, not just boosting their capacity for this year, but also looking at how we can boost their capacity for next year.”

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He added: “We’re going to have a record year of the number of people who are going to university and we’ll work with the sector to ensure they have as much capacity.”

It remains unclear how the changes will affect students taking BTEC qualifications. They were subject to the same grading algorithm but were not included in Monday’s announcement.

Mr Williamson has said the Department for Education is working with BTEC awarding body Pearson, and he is hopeful that the change will be extended to the vocational qualifications, which are taught at East Norfolk Sixth Form College, College of West Anglia, University Technical College Norfolk and City College Norwich.

MORE: What does the exams U-turn mean for A-level, GCSE and BTEC students?The Norwich University of the Arts (NUA) said its offers to new applicants were based on interviews, auditions and reviews of portfolios of work.

A spokesman said: “In this year’s extraordinary circumstances, as students would not be sitting exams, we had enough information to make unconditional offers to all our successful applicants. Hopefully, this has helped to ease a little of the worry for students in recent days who had NUA as their first choice; they knew their university place was secure.”

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