The number of students getting into Universities nationwide has increased this year, despite the number of students with A*-E grades falling.

Results out today show the number of A-Level students achieving a passing grade has fallen for the first time in 32 years to 98%, a fall of 0.1%. Equally the percentage achieving A*-A and A*-B grades also fell by around half a percent to 26% and 52.4% respectively.

Other trends identified include an increase in the number of people taking Maths and the Sciences, with fewer people taking broader subjects such as General studies, in a bid to increase the chances of getting into University, according to the Joint Council of Qualifications.

The government is “lifting the cap on aspiration.”

Nicky Morgan
Education Secretary
Places at UK Universities increased this year by 30,000 and admissions service UCAS expects the number of students at University in the UK to top half a million for the first time. UCAS had already allocated 396,000 places at the start of the day, a 2% increase in the number of students getting their first choice of University.

This decrease in the number achieving pass grades and an increase in University places has led to what has been termed a “buyers market” for University places with more choice being offered to students over where to study.

One student who contacted the BBC reports that they had been accepted onto a course with grades CCD whereas they were originally offered BBB. This kind of lowering of the boundaries is also being experienced at Southampton with offers of BBB being accepted for subjects such as History where the normal entry requirements are AAB.

Both the University and the wider Russell Group, of which the University is a part, are stressing that places are limited. Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group, said that:

Some Russell Group Universities may still have places available in some subjects for students who have done better than expected.

The exam results are being put down to the removal of January exams, which it is claimed has allowed teachers more time to cover topics and made pupils more determined to do well in the June exam period. The removal was due to accusations of ‘grade inflation’ over the past few years and attempts by the government to curb this and make subjects more ‘rigorous’.

Meanwhile, the competitive University market is being celebrated by politicians as allowing more people from disadvantaged backgrounds into University. Universities Minister, Greg Clark, said:

Higher education is one of the most important sources of social mobility and I welcome the growth in the number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.The lifelong benefits of higher education are significant. Graduates are much more likely to be employed than non-graduates. They also earn on average significantly more over their lifetime.

This year we increased the number of higher education places to enable more students to access higher education and next year publicly-funded universities can choose to recruit as many students as are capable of benefiting from higher education. Lifting this cap on aspiration allows more young people to fulfil their ambition and their potential.

The new Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, said:

I’m delighted to see more students, especially young women, studying maths and sciences and teachers having more time to push pupils to achieve the very top grades. This will help them secure the top jobs, regardless of their background, and secure a brighter future.

For prospective students looking to study at Southampton, the University’s clearing number is 02380 598 989 or see www.southampton.ac.uk/results2014

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