A level results were published on 17 August. Top grades have fallen for the second year running in England, back to broadly pre-pandemic levels. The proportion of A levels marked at A* or A has fallen to 26.5% in England, down from 35.9% in 2022.
Estimates are that 79% of students across the UK will have gained a place at their first choice university.
Demand for places will be strong and highly competitive this year as many applicants will want to go to university after deferring their places due to the pandemic. In addition, there is a view that many universities will advertise clearing places to overseas students before British applicants as they are not subject to the undergraduate fees cap of £9,250.
It will be interesting to see if there is an increase in apprenticeship applicants, many of whom are likely present with good grades. Whilst this would be a welcome boost to start figures, there are some potential risks. For example, students deferring their university start date for a year may choose to start an apprenticeship; however, completing the apprenticeship before university will be impossible, impacting early leavers figures.
Initial T Level data suggests that 90.5% of students sitting their T Level achieved a pass, and 69.2% achieved a merit or above. This is the second year results have been awarded and published, and the first year students have had formal assessments. The figures are encouraging but based on approximately 3,500 students nationwide receiving results. This is a tiny percentage of the overall cohort size and suggests that the programme has not been hugely successful in engaging new starters. In addition, relating back to 21/22 T Level start data, it is suggested that approximately a third of learners have not completed their programme of study.
This reflects and reinforces the recent Ofsted report on T Levels, which highlighted several issues:
- The programme has struggled to fulfil its potential and has struggled to build a recognised and understandable brand – having an impact on both learners and employers.
- Students’ experiences of T Level and Transition to T Level programmes have been variable. Some experiences have exceeded expectations, but many have fallen short of what students anticipated. Many feel they were misinformed about content, structure and progression opportunities. This may account for the relatively high drop-out levels.
- T Level providers have, in many cases, found it challenging to recruit staff with the appropriate experience, skills and knowledge to deliver the programme.
- There is much work to do to promote T Levels as a pathway into HE – many learners have progressed into work, an apprenticeship, or higher level skills programme but progression onto HE has been variable.