Statement ahead of A-level results 2011

17 August 2011

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

“A-level students deserve our congratulations for all their hard work over the last two years. Waiting for A-level results is a nerve-wracking time and we wish those receiving results all the best, whatever the outcome. 

Student numbers

“Winning a place at university has always been a competitive process – particularly applying to Russell Group universities. The costs to the taxpayer of a very generous system of student loans and grants make it unrealistic to think that the country could afford to offer a properly funded university place to everyone who would like one. In a tight fiscal climate, maintaining the quality of the student experience must be a greater priority than expanding the number of places. We must not try to spread limited funds too thinly otherwise we risk short-changing students, employers and, ultimately, the country as a whole which relies on universities to create the growing, knowledge-based economy we need for future growth and prosperity.


“The Russell Group is committed to ensuring that students from all backgrounds with the qualifications, potential and determination to succeed have the opportunity to gain a place at a leading university. As demonstrated in our access agreements with OFFA, we are investing millions more each year in outreach activities and financial aid aimed at helping poorer students win places at our institutions. But key to widening access is increasing the number of students from disadvantaged background who achieve the top A-level grades tomorrow. It is also important that those A Levels are in the subjects that will maximise the student’s chances of winning a place on their chosen course.

“A-level and other academic results are extremely important for our admissions tutors as they seek out students with the right qualifications, enthusiasm and ability to thrive in our degree programmes. But we also consider academic success in the broader context and our tutors are skilled at reviewing information on candidates which is fair, accurate and relevant in order to identify those most able to succeed on our courses.”

Notes to editors 

  1. By 2015-16, Russell Group universities will be spending collectively £28.8million on outreach activities and £153.7million on fee waivers, bursaries and scholarships for students. OFFA estimates that access agreement expenditure as a proportion of fee income above the basic fee will be 32.3% in 2015-16 across the Russell Group, compared to 26.7% across all HEIs.
  2. This is why the Russell Group recently 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.
  3. The vast majority of Russell Group universities, for example, use personal statements and references when assessing candidates. Some departments also interview candidates or ask them to sit additional tests, particularly for the most competitive courses like Medicine or Law, to give the applicant a further opportunity to demonstrate their strengths or a real interest in the subject. These strengths may be demonstrated by a range of achievements including prizes from challenging competitions. Others take into account any particular barriers the candidate may have faced during their education such as spending time in care.

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