The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic has caused the most significant disruption to everyday life, arguably since the end of the Second World War. Schools, colleges, and universities joined the countless number of public places to close their doors. Now, almost six months after the government was forced to implement an unprecedented national lockdown, many things seem to be getting slowly back to normal. However, for thousands of students around the country, the disruption continues…
What was the Controversy with A-level results?
A-level results day is a stressful time for young people on any given year. However, the lead-up to this year’s grade reveal has been significantly nerve-racking, as the grades given did not necessarily depend on the students’ academic ability. Instead, A-level students received their grades through an algorithm used by the Office for Qualifications and Examinations (Ofqual).
Since the publication of this year’s A-level results, Ofqual, the government, and the algorithm have all received massive criticism. Many students were left devastated and uncertain as 40% of results were downgraded from teacher-predicted grades – some of these by more than a single grade. Critics also disputed that students from disadvantaged backgrounds had been disproportionately affected by downgrading.
A-level Results and University Offers
Despite the difficulties, Ofqual and the education Minister stressed that the algorithm had been used with the best intentions. Nonetheless, all of this meant that many students had university offers – conditional on their final grades – revoked. In the confusion, some of these students have now accepted offers from universities that weren’t their first choice and, in some cases, signed up for courses that they don’t really want to study!
However, after mounting pressure from the opposition and critics on all sides, the government eventually announced a plan to allow students to accept their teacher-predicted grades. This was a decision already taken by the Scottish government following a similar situation in Scotland. This is good news for some students but may seem too late for others, who may have already lost their place at their first-choice universities.
On the other hand, the higher grades that are now being accepted could mean that more pupils aim to attend the higher-rated institutions. As a result, smaller universities fear that they could face financial ruin.
Yet, members of the opposition, as well as other critics, argue that all university offers should be honoured by the institutions. To help with this, the government has agreed to lift caps on the number of students that can be accepted into each university. However, universities are also encouraging many potential students to consider deferring their offer for a year, to prevent an influx of students that could potentially limit the institutions’ resources and quality of teaching.
What to do if you are still confused about University offers
Despite calls of support for students who find themselves in a difficult position this university application season, many will be confused about what their options are. If you find yourself in this position, the general advice is to contact your universities of choice to clarify the status of any offers you may have had.
University websites may also be able to offer important information regarding their plans regarding start dates and whether they plan to fully re-open in September.