In this episode, hosts Isabel and Maddy discuss the controversy surrounding A Level results day 2020. Talking to prospective undergraduates who felt cheated out of their places, Switchboard asks: what happened? Who’s to blame? How did it affect students? And how will it impact the upcoming academic year in Cambridge?

Tomas Vieira-Short

Varsity’s investigations editor Ewan Hawkins talks us through how the results algorithm was developed by Ofqual, and how the Government's focus on avoiding grade inflation was the catalyst for the results day fiasco. (1:25).

Offer holder Sharleen Opia relays her results day experience after CAGs led to her being downgraded, missing her offer to study Spanish at St John’s, Cambridge (8:50).

Laurie Wilcockson, who was rejected from Sidney Sussex, explains his opinions surrounding the standardisation of grades, his surprise at the widespread impacts of the algorithm, and the difference between the results in his sixth form and the local private or grammar schools. (11:25)

And aspiring Selwynite Tom Chandler, who narrowly missed his offer for Classics, shares his discontent with the impersonal approach of some colleges. (18:52).

The focus turns to the future as Hawkins emphasises the negative consequences of the U-turn: increased capacity at a time when we’re meant to be social distancing, as well as reduced cohorts for Universities lower down the league tables (23:55).

Finally, Olly Schönle, Selwyn College JCR President, talks us through how colleges are responding to the A Level results fiasco, specifically how they are preparing for a larger cohort whilst ensuring compliance with COVID-19 regulations. He also touches on the complaints of unfair discrepancies between colleges (25:00).

Switchboard is Varsity’s flagship podcast. Episodes are released every Friday on all major podcasting apps via Anchor. Transcripts of all episodes are available via this link.

The Cambridge community is now spread across the UK and around the world, but Switchboard is here to keep you connected. Every episode connects you to an eclectic array of voices and sounds, from Cambridge and beyond...