In a spectacular U-turn, the government has announced students can use their teacher assessed grades for their A-level results Louis ashworth

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Join Varsity in following the events unfolding as the government announces their U-turn on A-level results.

  • A reminder of what the issues were with the A-level results algorithm can be found here 
  • More information about demands for Cambridge to #HonourTheOffer is available here 

Tuesday 18th August 8:43pm 

Cambridge SU has released a response to the University's statement following the government's U-turn on A-level results grading. 

The response while welcoming the University's clarification in light of the government's policy changes, outlines that the SU is "deeply disappointed that the University’s updated policy fundamentally disregards the demands and concerns that have been articulated in the many open letters that have been published over the past few days."

Firstly, the response highlights that the University's statement "does not denounce the discriminatory nature of the algorithm" which was originally used to moderate results nor does it acknowledge that reverting to teacher assessed grades "fails to address the fact that disadvantaged students are more likely to be under-predicted in the first place." 

The statement, in reference to the mental health burden the uncertainty has caused for offer-holders, continues to suggest that the University and colleges have not "gone far enough" to support these students. 

The statement continues: "The fact that the University will be rejecting students whose CAGs fall short of their offers demonstrates a regrettable unwillingness to proactively redress the inequalities that plague the UK education system."

The SU is calling on the University as such to "honour the offers of all state sector and widening participation flagged students as a priority." 

The statement also expresses concern surrounding the "lack of flexibility and transparency" regarding deferrals.

The SU "firmly believe that offer-holders should not be forced to choose between giving up their offers or deferring their entry for a year; as has been outlined, this is not an option for students from certain disadvantaged backgrounds." 

Noting the unequal ability of some offer-holders to defer, the SU is demanding that priority is given to students from widening participation backgrounds "in the allocation of available places in an acknowledgement of financial and other concerns."

Monday 17th August 8:17pm  

Sonita Alleyne, Master of Jesus College, has praised this year’s admissions as the college’s “most socially diverse cohort ever”.

In an updated statement from the college about admissions, she revealed that as of this afternoon (17/08), 80% of incoming Jesus undergraduates were from state schools - a 5% increase from their 2019 intake.

In addition, 17.5% of the intake were from ‘areas of lowest progression to Higher Education’ - almost 5% higher than the University’s target of 12.7%. 

Alleyne commended the “help of [their] amazing student ambassadors” in leading to “significant progress, particularly in the last five years” in aiding the college’s efforts to widen participation.

She added that the college is “now working with a small number of students and [...] look forward to confirming more places over the next few days”.

Following the government’s U-turn, Alleyne recognised the “anxiety” facing many offer-holders and stressed that the college is “awaiting revised grades for our offer-holders” and clarification on issues surrounding University capacity.

Monday 17th August 7:38pm 

Following the government’s U-turn on results, Fitzwilliam college, in a statement on their website, expressed delight that their work in obtaining background information on offer-holders in order to confirm their places can be accelerated. 

The statement also highlighted that according to the college’s current data nearly 80% of next years UK intake will be from state schools. With 50% of state school students admitted hailing from underrepresented backgrounds. 

Monday 17th August 6:28pm 

The government has confirmed the University admissions cap, which limits the number of students English universities can recruit, has been lifted.

In order to create extra capacity, following the decision to allow students to use their teacher assessed grades for their A-level results, the planned cap will no longer apply.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education detailed that pupils who missed out on places at their first choice university with their moderated grades will be advised to go and speak to their first choice about reversing that decision if their teacher assessed grades meet the conditions of their original offer.

The spokesperson also highlighted the expectation that universities will be flexible in dealing with offer-holders with revised grades.

In a statement yesterday (16/08), Vice Chancellor Stephen Toope outlined that approximately 4,500 offers were made this year for 3,450 places. It is yet unclear how the university will accommodate additional students who now meet the conditions of their offer.

Monday 17th August 4:44pm 

In a striking U-turn for the government, ministers have announced they are scrapping the controversial standardisation model drawn up by Ofqual, the exam regulator, after mass uproar following A-level results day. 

Instead, A-level and GCSE results will be based on teacher-assessed grades or centre assessed grades (CAG). 

The U-turn follows days of outcry as 40% of predicted results were downgraded, with many students, particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds, losing their university places. 

The controversial algorithm used by Ofqual to moderate teachers predicted grades and rankings was largely based upon schools' past performance and individuals' past attainment. 

Ofqual has confirmed CAG will be awarded to students for A-levels, AS-Levels and GCSEs, furthering that students who received higher moderated grades could keep that grade over their CAG. 

Roger Taylor, Ofqual’s chair, recognised the "real anguish and damaged public confidence" that the moderation caused. He added: "Expecting schools to submit appeals where grades were incorrect placed a burden on teachers when they need to be preparing for the new term and has created uncertainty and anxiety for students. For all of that, we are extremely sorry."

“The path forward we now plan to implement will provide urgent clarity. We are already working with the Department for Education, universities and everyone else affected by this issue”, he finished. 

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