The Speaker
Sunday, 19 May 2024 – 17:57

How will universities respond to exam results changing?

For days, there has been chaos over exam grades in the UK and while many remain angry about the situation, much attention will now turn towards universities who have been left to try and adapt to Ofqual’s latest announcement.

On Monday afternoon, exams regulator Ofqual announced that GCSE, AS and A-Level results in England will now change to teacher predicted grades. Students that received higher grades on the moderation system than were predicted by their teachers will be able to keep their higher grades. The same changes also apply in Wales, with an announcement being made by the Welsh Education Minister Kirsty Williams earlier on Monday.

The decision by Ofqual to change grades will spark a sigh of relief for many, but for others, anxiety and uncertainty will continue.

The U-turn presents huge challenges for universities, which have now got to try and work out a fair and consistent way to move forward.

UCAS has said that decisions on what happens next for students who have seen their results upgraded will be made by each individual university and college. Following the announcement by Ofqual changing results on Monday afternoon, UCAS tweeted;

“If on 13 August you were not placed at your firm or insurance choice university or college, you should first speak with your parents/guardians and teachers to decide if you wish to take up your place at your first choice university or college.

“Universities & colleges will need to have received your ‘Centre Assessed Grades’ before they can make a decision on your application. We are working with the awarding bodies to receive revised grades as quickly as possible to pass them on your chosen universities & colleges.

“Any decision made will be made by the individual university or college, not UCAS. As always, we are working to do everything we can to support you. We will be in touch tomorrow with an update on the situation, and to explain any next steps.”

A-Level Results were released last Thursday 13th August, leading to the following scenarios;

  • Students that met the requirements of the university offers were able to take them up (or reject them)
  • Many students didn’t meet the entry requirements due to lowered grades through the moderation system compared to teacher estimated grades. Universities reacted to this in different ways;  
    • Some universities withdrew the offers of these students but didn’t fill their places with anyone else
    • Some universities withdrew the offers of these students and filled their places with other students
    • Some universities held offers, to give students time to go through results appeal processes.
  • Students also reacted in different ways;
    • Some students accepted that they had lost places to study at university and applied to other openings
    • Some students applied to different courses through Clearing
    • Some students were accepted to their Insurance offer and accepted that place, having not met the conditions for their Firm place due to the moderated grades.

There are now huge questions as to how universities move forward, with many different scenarios to consider. Many universities are now thought to be having emergency meetings to discuss how they move forward. Some universities have sought to assure students that places received through Clearing are secure, though it is unknown if and which universities will allow students to move from their UCAS insurance choice to firm choice. 

While exam grades may now be confirmed, they still need to be submitted to UCAS (the University and Colleges Admission Service) before any offers can be change – a process which is expected to take several days, meaning that uncertainty for some students could continue up to the end of the week and beyond.


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