After receiving backlash due to their initial algorithm, the government has made a surprising u-turn with students’ A-Level results.
The government has announced that students will expect to receive different results due to a new method of grading. Initially, students were graded alongside an algorithm that took past students and their area into account, but this received backlash due to it being a hindrance for some, especially those who live in low-income areas. This led to some people receiving unfairly downgraded results, as well as being rejected from their first choice universities.
However, this sudden change that Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announced has meant that A-Level students will instead receive a teacher-assessed grade. This has been welcomed by some, as it is believed that this is the most accurate prediction of their performance. However, others have found that they are scrambling to find a place for their preferred universities, due to their grades either increasing or decreasing. For instance, the University of Oxford has noted ‘significant capacity constraints’, with an increase in students receiving the required grades for their preferred universities. The amount of worry has been amplified, due to students not meeting the expected grades with the initial algorithm, but now meeting the requirements through their newly received predicted grades. This has caused pressure on universities to find spaces, both on the courses and in accommodation.
The lack of space in universities is emphasised by Durham University offering students money to defer their offers to 2021. With a guarantee of a bursary and accommodation, the university is aiming to relieve pressure on their services for the upcoming academic year.
When speaking on this shift from the initial algorithm to using predicted grades for A-Level results, Gavin Williamson stated how he ‘now believe[s]it is better’, as well as noting how his ‘focus is making sure youngsters get the grades that they deserve.’
Wessex Scene contacted the University of Southampton admissions team for their take on the recent news. In an automated reply they stated the following:
‘If your reissued A level grades meet or exceed the conditions of your offer, then we will confirm your place at the University of Southampton for September 2020 entry.’
‘In a few cases, where courses have very strict capacity constraints, including Medicine, we may have to ask you to defer your place until September 2021.’
‘If your reissued grades are marginally below the conditions of your offer, we may be unable to confirm your place until September 2021. If there were non-academic conditions attached to your offer, we would expect you to meet them by 7 September 2020.’
‘In a small number of cases, the course you applied for in 2020 may not be running in 2021. In this case, we will not be able to offer you a guarantee of an offer but would encourage you to speak to the admissions team to discuss your options.’