Statement on exams results announcement

17 August 2020

Dr Tim Bradshaw, CEO of the Russell Group, said:

“This has been a very challenging results season and all of our members understand the distress it has created for many young people during what is already a stressful time under the best of circumstances.

“Our universities have been working hard to be as flexible and compassionate as possible to help students, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, so offer holders are not unfairly affected. We firmly believe that everyone who has the drive and determination to study at university should have the opportunity do so.

“Many Russell Group universities have increased admissions plans so they can take more students this year and ensure as many young people as possible can benefit from the skills and knowledge that a high quality university education provides. Our universities have accepted students who narrowly missed out on the grades they needed, have held places open for those appealing their results or have been able to guarantee places on courses for the next academic year. UCAS daily clearing data shows that acceptances at higher tariff institutions are higher this year compared to the same time last year.

“We know the changing situation is creating uncertainty for students and universities. However there are limits to what can be done by the university sector alone to address that uncertainty without stretching resources to the point that it undermines the experience for all, not to mention ensuring students and staff are kept safe as we follow the steps needed to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. There are also practical constraints on capacity for programmes that depend on specialist facilities or placements.

“We now need urgent clarification from government on the additional support it will provide to help universities with the expected increases in student numbers, particularly for high cost subjects such as chemistry, medicine and engineering.”

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