Local Universities Supporting A Level Students

Doing 'everything possible' to help after downgrading fiasco

University of Roehampton Library

Universities in South West London are doing “everything possible” to help A-Level students, after last week’s downgrading fiasco.

Before the government u-turn this Monday(August 17), which said students would be awarded grades estimated by their teachers rather than – as previously – by an algorithm, the University of Roehampton was already accepting teachers’ predicted A-Level grades.

A spokesperson said: “The university understands this year has been challenging for everyone” and that offers were being made on awarded grades, predicted grades, mock grades, or centre-assessed grades, whichever is the higher.

Likewise, at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, students were already being given offers based on predicted grades and mock results.

Pro Vice-Chancellor for Global Engagement, Paul Bridge said: “A-Level results day and clearing is a stressful time each year for our applicants, even more so this year with the added complexity the coronavirus situation has brought.

“We are hearing from lots of applicants and some courses such as our new Physiotherapy course are now full. We do still have places available on a range of programmes, so if you’d like to study at St Mary’s please get in touch with our clearing hotline team to discuss your options.

“We work with a range of schools and teachers throughout the applicant cycle and we have confidence in their evaluation of their students’ academic outcomes in the absence of exams. It’s still early days, but we’ve had a positive response from applicants and we hope we can help alleviate the pressure they are feeling at the moment.”

A Kingston University spokesperson also said they were doing “everything possible to ensure students with the potential to thrive in higher education have the opportunity to do so.”

They added: “During clearing, the university’s hotline team has been taking calls from prospective students in a range of situations and has been working hard to support them to find the ideal course.”

Individual circumstances will be taken into account, including personal statements and references as well as predicted grades when deciding if they can still confirm or make an offer.

Roger Taylor, Chair of the exam regulator, Ofqual, and Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson have since apologised for the “distress” caused by A-Level results.

Now teachers’ estimates will be awarded to students unless the computer algorithm gave a higher grade.

Mr Williamson said the Department for Education had worked with Ofqual to design “the fairest possible model” but it had become clear that the process of awarding grades had resulted in “more significant inconsistencies than can be resolved through an appeals process”.

He also lifted the temporary cap on the number of places that universities can offer to students.

Nevertheless, with thousands of students now likely to get the grades they needed it is becoming a challenge for some universities to accommodate them.

Alistair Jarvis, chief executive of Universities UK, said the “late policy change” has created “challenges” and called on the government to support universities.

In a statement, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas) said students who did not have places at their first or insurance choice of university did not need to make their decision immediately.

It added it would be issuing new advice for students and schools as soon as possible.

Sian Bayley - Local Democracy Reporter

August 19, 2020