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Higher Education: Admissions

Question for Department for Education

UIN 31811, tabled on 6 July 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether UCAS plans to analyse its data to track young people who (a) receive lower A Level grades in the 2021-22 academic year than predicted as a result of their academic performance having been adversely affected by lockdown and other restrictions introduced to prevent the spread of covid-19 during 2020 and 2021 and (b) will consequently be without any Higher Education place at the end of the 2022 admission round; what discussions she has had with UCAS on steps to take to support young people in that position; and if she will make a statement.

Answered on

19 July 2022

This answer is a correction from the original answer.

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) operates as an independent charity and is separate from the government. The department will continue to work closely with UCAS, schools, colleges, awarding organisations, and the higher education (HE) sector to support the 2022 intake of students, so they can go on to their next step in life, whether that is university, further training, or work.

In November 2021, my right hon. Friend, the former Minister for Higher and Further Education, wrote to Vice Chancellors to recognise the hard work and dedication that the sector has shown to students throughout the 2021 and 2022 admissions cycles. The former Minister asked that additional resilience is built into strategies for the 2022 HE admissions cycle. HE sector bodies were engaged through the HE Taskforce to commend them on their efforts to date and to ask that they continue to put students first.

In June 2022, UCAS reported that 281,500 UK 18-year-olds were holding a firm offer, up 7,000 on last year and the highest on record. UCAS expect more students than in previous years to gain a place at their firm choice institution. It expects that on A level and T Level Results Day the majority of students are likely to be confirmed at their firm choice. However, it is important to note that the exact numbers will not be known until 18 August, A level and T Level Results Day.

If students do not get the required grades, their preferred HE provider may still offer them a place. In the first instance, students are encouraged to talk to their school or college, or to their preferred university, who may be able to offer some flexibility. Students can also seek advice from the Exam Results Helpline run by the National Careers Service. UCAS will help thousands of students to find places through Clearing or explore other options once they have received their grades and predict that over 30,000 courses will be available. Last year, 56,225 students (10%) entered university via Clearing.

While HE opens many doors for those who study at this level, it is by no means the right option for everyone, including those with the highest grades. There are multiple options for students to progress, including HE but also traineeships, T Levels, apprenticeships, the Kickstart scheme, and higher technical qualifications.

Original answer

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) operates as an independent charity and is separate from the government. The department will continue to work closely with UCAS, schools, colleges, awarding organisations, and the higher education (HE) sector to support the 2022 intake of students, so they can go on to their next step in life, whether that is university, further training, or work.

In November 2021, my right hon. Friend, the former Minister for Higher and Further Education, wrote to Vice Chancellors to recognise the hard work and dedication that the sector has shown to students throughout the 2021 and 2022 admissions cycles. The former Minister asked that additional resilience is built into strategies for the 2022 HE admissions cycle. HE sector bodies were engaged through the HE Taskforce to commend them on their efforts to date and to ask that they continue to put students first.

In June 2022, UCAS reported that 281,500 UK 18-year-olds were holding a firm offer, up 7,000 on last year and the highest on record. UCAS expect more students than in previous years to gain a place at their firm choice institution. It expects that on A level and T Level Results Day around 80% of students are likely to be confirmed at their firm choice. However, it is important to note that the exact numbers will not be known until 18 August, A level and T Level Results Day.

If students do not get the required grades, their preferred HE provider may still offer them a place. In the first instance, students are encouraged to talk to their school or college, or to their preferred university, who may be able to offer some flexibility. Students can also seek advice from the Exam Results Helpline run by the National Careers Service. UCAS will help thousands of students to find places through Clearing or explore other options once they have received their grades and predict that over 30,000 places will be available. Last year, 56,225 students (10%) entered university via Clearing.

While HE opens many doors for those who study at this level, it is by no means the right option for everyone, including those with the highest grades. There are multiple options for students to progress, including HE but also traineeships, T Levels, apprenticeships, the Kickstart scheme, and higher technical qualifications.

Named day
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