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Universities: Student Numbers

Question for Department for Education

UIN 197561, tabled on 4 September 2023

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment she has made of the potential impact of this year's A-level grading system on home student numbers at English universities.

Answered on

12 September 2023

A levels, AS levels and GCSEs in England largely returned to pre-pandemic grading this summer, but with protection in place for students to recognise the disruption caused by the pandemic. This means that a student was just as likely to achieve a particular grade this year as they would have been before the pandemic.

This year, on A level and T level Results Day, 186,710 English-domiciled 18-year-olds were accepted to English higher education providers, compared to 162,680 in 2019.

Plans for grading in England in 2023 were set out by Ofqual in September 2021 and confirmed in 2022, so universities had time to take this into account when setting entry requirements and making offers. The overall number of university places available is not decided by the number of top grades, or the approach to grading.

It is important that qualifications maintain their value now and in the future, and stand the test of time. The return to normal grading helps to ensure young people make the right choices about their future, and sets them up for further study, training, or employment in the best possible way.