Thousands face A-level misery as results are predicted to slump

University blow for Generation Covid: Thousands face A-level misery as results are predicted to slump after officials introduced harsher marking

  • Record 80,000 fewer entries will be awarded A or A* compared with last year
  • Officials have reined in grade inflation by introducing harsher marking 
  • Number of students waiting to see if they have university place has soared 
  • Increase fuelled by population boom and reduction in unconditional offers 

A-level pupils face devastation today as top grades take the biggest plunge ever registered in the 70-year history of the qualification.

A record 80,000 fewer entries will be awarded A or A* compared with last year, after officials reined in grade inflation by introducing harsher marking.

Sixth formers across the country will pick up their results after becoming the first year group to sit exams since the pandemic.

The number of students anxiously waiting to see if they have a university place has soared by 40 per cent since 2019, according to analysts at dataHE.

Sixth formers across the country will pick up their results after becoming the first year group to sit exams since the pandemic (stock image)

Sixth formers across the country will pick up their results after becoming the first year group to sit exams since the pandemic (stock image)

Almost 300,000 still have no idea whether they will get the course of their choice – a record high. The number of pupils with no offer of a place at all has also increased by 74 per cent in the same period, to just under 28,000.

The increase has been fuelled by a population boom and a reduction in unconditional offers, making the scramble for places the most competitive ever.

And Chris Hale, interim chief executive of Universities UK, warned anyone thinking of deferring their place that it would ‘continue to be as competitive’ in 2023.

Last night, pupils spoke of their anxiety about picking up their results. Amy Bostock, 18, said: ‘The dread I’m feeling about having to open up that envelope with my results in tomorrow is awful.’ The proportion of A and A* grades awarded this year is predicted to fall from 44.8 per cent to 35 per cent – almost ten percentage points.

It comes following grade inflation during the pandemic when exams were cancelled and teachers decided upon marks instead. Officials are now hoping to reduce grades back to 2019 levels, when only a quarter got A and A*.

Between 40,000 and 60,000 pupils are predicted to fall short of the grades needed for their chosen course today.

Those who lose their place will be forced to use Clearing – the system which matches unplaced students with left-over course places.

Yesterday analysis showed that the number of Clearing courses available at elite Russell Group universities dropped by around 600 in one week.

Between 40,000 and 60,000 pupils are predicted to fall short of the grades needed for their chosen course today (stock image)

Between 40,000 and 60,000 pupils are predicted to fall short of the grades needed for their chosen course today (stock image)

Alan Smithers, professor of education at the University of Buckingham, said: ‘This year will be the biggest ever drop in top grades. A drop of ten points is a very big deal.

‘Teachers and pupils may be overestimating the grades they’re likely to get. It could be a very difficult day and it’s going to be very competitive.’

Mark Corver, of dataHE, said: ‘The number of top grades has increased by around 160,000 in the past two years so unwinding this could give a record-setting fall.’

However Education Secretary James Cleverly urged pupils to stay positive, adding: ‘Every single student collecting their results today should be proud of their achievements. Despite the nerves that people will feel, I want to reassure anyone collecting their results that whatever your grades, there has never been a better range of opportunities available.’

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