A-level results U-turn: what happens next?

By Molly Gray |

‘Despite reassurances and last week’s U-turn, many students will have a feeling of anxiety over the future’ | Shuttershock

A-level results day on Thursday 13th August left many students disappointed with their grades, originally calculated by a government algorithm that standardised results. 

This method came under fire when nearly 40% of A-level results were downgraded, meaning that many pupils could not get into their chosen universities. 

Following the criticism, the results were replaced by centre-assessed grades and students were then able to reach university requirements. 

Subsequent to the change in grades — and the increase in students confirming their offers — the Government lifted its cap on the number of students that a university can enrol.

However, many universities fear they may not have the capacity, with social distancing on campus being a concern.

Will students need to defer?

The University of Exeter released an admissions update on 20th August, which stated that they will not be withdrawing any confirmed places, but were considering whether to ‘encourage deferral for those that are over-subscribed.’

UCAS revealed back in June there had been a rise in the number of students looking to defer. 

The Government countered this by claiming that a number of pupils who were originally going to take a gap year had decided to enrol in the coming academic year.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: ‘This is an uncertain time… Applicants should not feel they need to defer, unless they wish to.’

Despite these reassurances and last week’s U-turn, many students will have a feeling of anxiety over the future. 

Williamson also warned that ‘universities must be clear about how courses will be delivered in the next academic year.’

What we do know is that university life will feel very different in September, as many universities are set to provide a mixture of online and face-to-face teaching.