A-level results and university admissions

14 August 2014

Commenting on this year’s A-levels results, Dr Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group, said:

“We congratulate all A-level students on their hard work and well-deserved grades. We wish them all the best in their future studies and careers.

“This can be a nerve-wracking time and it is inevitable some students will miss their offer or do better than expected. The important thing is to stay calm - all our universities have people on hand to help and UCAS can be contacted on 0371 468 0468 or via their website.  Some of our universities may have more places to offer to students who have done better than expected, or for highly-qualified students who have narrowly missed out on their first choice.”

Facilitating subjects

“It is pleasing that a greater proportion of students have done facilitating subjects at A-level this year. It is also encouraging that many more students are studying those subjects at AS-level. We hope they will keep studying them through to A-level because they will give students greater choice and more options for studying at Russell Group universities. In particular we are really pleased to see numbers taking AS-levels in modern foreign languages are up 5.6% this year.

Making the right choice of A-level

“Sadly, it is still the case that subject choices are affected by students’ backgrounds and the kind of school they attend. Our universities are making strong efforts to encourage more students from low-income families to apply for our courses, but it is still a challenge to recruit students with the right qualifications and the right grades.

 “That is why the Russell Group published Informed Choices, our guide to post-16 study options, which aims to improve information about how subject choices at school can impact on university applications.

Clearing and Adjustment

“Some Russell Group universities may have more places to offer through clearing to well-qualified students who have narrowly missed out on their first choice. UCAS and our universities have been preparing for this carefully and are on hand to help students who have missed their offer. There may also be places available through the UCAS Adjustment process for those who have done better than expected.”

Decoupling A and AS-levels

“AS-levels in their existing form are valued by universities.

“We have argued that AS-levels in their current format are important in giving students the opportunity to take an additional smaller qualification in a contrasting subject alongside their main A-level subjects. This adds valuable breadth and flexibility to their learning programme, and can encourage the take-up of strategically important subjects.  We are not convinced therefore that a new stand-alone AS qualification is necessary and are concerned that with no links to the A-level, it may not deliver the same benefits as the existing AS-levels.

“Results from AS-levels taken in Year 12 are useful to universities in the admissions process, especially in considering applications for the most competitive courses.  Without access to such information, it will be even more difficult for our institutions to identify the most talented students from amongst the very many applicants with excellent results at GCSE.

“AS-level results after one year of study can also be effective in giving talented students from poorer backgrounds the confidence to apply to a highly selective university, thus helping to widen participation. 

Notes to editors

  1. JCQ recently published figures on the number of students doing facilitating subjects. Whilst the numbers doing them at A-level has changed little there has been a big increase in the numbers doing them at AS-level. This is encouraging and we hope more will now carry on their studies at A-level.
  2. Students who know what degree they want to study should look at university websites and speak to staff to understand what subjects they need. For those students who are not yet sure, doing one, two or three facilitating subjects will help keep a wide range of options open. The full list of facilitating subjects is: Mathematics (and further Mathematics), English literature, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Geography, History, Modern languages and Classical languages.

Policy area

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