A-level results - live: Hundreds of thousands of students to learn grades and university places

·12-min read
A-level results - live: Hundreds of thousands of students to learn grades and university places

Hundreds of thousands of pupils are to receive their A-level exam results across England, Wales and Northern Ireland on Thursday, with grades expected to be lower than during the pandemic but higher than 2019.

Students who sat exams for the first time since before the coronavirus outbreak are expected to face tough competition for university places, with institutions known to have been more conservative in their offers this year.

Admissions service Ucas has said it expects record or near-record numbers of students to get onto their first-choice courses, but warned the process will not be "pain-free" for all, as some students are left disappointed.

The number of university places available to students through the clearing process is down on last week, with less than 24 hours to go before teenagers get their results.

One university blamed an  "administrative blip" for showing more than 500 as available when they should not have been.

Key Points

  • Clearing places down due to ‘admin blip'

  • Ucas warns results day will not be ‘pain free'

  • Hundreds of thousands await grades

More on Ucas data

08:41 , Zoe Tidman

Here are the key points from the university admissions service data just released:

  • A total of 425,830 people have had places confirmed at their first- or second-choice university.

  • Overall figure gaining places was down by 2 per cent from a record in 2021 - but still second-highest to date

  • Number of students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds getting into their firm or insurance university stands at 6,850 - up from 3,770 in 2019

BREAKING: A-Level results: Second highest number of students get first or second choice at university

08:13 , Zoe Tidman

Second highest number of A-Level students get first or second choice at university

‘Don’t panic’ if you miss your university offer, University of Bedfordshire official says

07:40 , Zoe Tidman

David Seaton, who works in admissions forthe University of Bedfordshire, has reassured students if they need to turn to clearing this year.

“We are potentially facing a situation where more students will need to use clearing as a way into university because they don’t have an upfront university offer,” he said.

“Don’t panic if you missed your UCAS offer. Every year tens of thousands of students secure places through clearing and go on to have a great experience.”

He added: “Clearing is a normal way of getting into university. More and more students elect to go down this route anyway so they can apply with their actual grades in their hand, rather than predicted grades.

Students could get ‘slightly lower grades’ than expecting, education minister says

07:26 , Zoe Tidman

The education secretary has spoken about what results could bring today.

“Students might get slightly lower grades than perhaps they were hoping or expecting,” James Cleverly told Sky News.

This is because the exam regulator wanted to reign in grade inflation with marks lower than last year - but still not as low as before the pandemic.

“We will see the majority of students get into the institutions they want to,” the education minister added.

First set of T-level students to get grades

07:20 , Zoe Tidman

The first cohort of students who have taken the new technical T-level qualifications are also getting their results today.

Around 1,000 pupils are expected to get T-level results today.

Here is more on this qualification first launched in 2020:

New T-levels vocational qualifications to be taught from 2020

Govt offers ‘Get the jump’ to students wanting a job alongside university

07:11 , Arpan Rai

Students looking to work alongside their university period or sign up for apprenticeship can see the Get The Jump website, education secretary James Cleverly said today.

The education secretary said young people have a huge range of exciting options available which include “opportunities to earn while you learn via an apprenticeship, taking a higher technical qualification, attending university or landing your first job.”

Students can explore their options through our Get The Jump website or through Clearing.

“For students taking exams in the future, the department is driving forward a stream of recovery activity by investing almost £5 billion to help children and young people recover from the impact of the pandemic, including £1.5bn for a national tutoring revolution in schools and colleges,” the education secretary said.

Under the National Tutoring Programme, more than two million courses have now started.

These include 1.8 million so far this academic year across an estimated 80% of schools – helping children to catch up with learning loss, Mr Cleverly said.

Private school pupils likely to ‘elbow out’ state students in scramble for university places, experts warn

06:53 , Arpan Rai

There’s a strong chance that poorer pupils are more likely to miss out on top university courses, experts have warned ahead of this year’s A-level results which are set to widen the gap between private and state schools.

The proportion of A-level students given top grades reached a record high, with nearly half achieving an A or above, after exams were cancelled and marks were determined by teachers.

However, an increase in A grades was 50 per cent higher in independent schools than in secondary comprehensives, data from regulator Ofqual showed, sparking fears that this would combine with the record number of university applications to “compound” inequality in the education system.

Read the full story here:

Private school pupils likely to ‘elbow out’ state students in scramble for university places, experts warn

A-level results this year were ‘never going to be pain-free’ - UCAS top official

06:25 , Arpan Rai

The A-level results this year were “never going to be pain-free”, the head of the universities admissions service said ahead of the crucial day for hundreds of thousands students across the country.

Clare Marchant, chief executive of Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, urged students to brace themselves for lower grades and subsequently intensified competition for seats in universities.

Ms Marchant said that the move of administration to tighten the grade inflation this year as they aimed to bring the results gradually back to a pre-pandemic level was a necessary task but it was “not easy”.

“A return to either an intermediary position or, as Ofqual said, a midpoint, was never going to be pain-free,” she said at a webinar hosted by the Higher Education Policy Institute.

However, the top education officials said that the good news was that record or near record numbers of students were had a chance to get into their first choice of university this year.

Every single student collecting result today should be proud - Education secretary

05:51 , Arpan Rai

Education secretary James Cleverly thanked students awaiting their results today, lauding them for being the first batch in three years to take the A-level exams after the pandemic disrupted the global order.

“Every single student collecting their results today should be proud of their achievements. Not only have they studied throughout the pandemic, but they are the first group in three years to sit exams. For that, I want to congratulate them and say a huge thank you to those who helped them get to this point,” Mr Cleverly said in a statement.

He said that the day of results is also a really exciting time for “pioneering T Level students”.

These students are “the first ever group to take this qualification will pick up their results. I have no doubt they will be the first of many and embark on successful careers.”

Assuring students of varied options after results are announced, the education secretary said: “Despite the nerves that people will feel, I want to reassure anyone collecting their results that whatever your grades, there has never been a better range of opportunities available.”

“Whether going on to one of our world-leading universities, a high-quality apprenticeship, or the world of work, students have exciting options as they prepare to take their next steps,” Mr Cleverly said.

Anxious about A-level results? Fight anxiety and stress with this mental health aid group

05:21 , Arpan Rai

Coping with the exam stress can sometimes be worse than the outcome. Thousands of students today are likely to experience anxiety as UCAS will roll out the results for the Covid generation school and college pupils this morning.

There are multiple groups and collectives readily aiding students to fight the stress.

Students can look to ‘Open your mind’ initiative by London-based The Cavendish Square Group, which is a collective of 10 NHS trusts.

Based at King’s Cross, these include the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, which runs outreach projects in Cheshunt, Hemel Hempstead, Ware and Watford, and the Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust.

Students and parents can find immediate strategies and online resource on the Open your mind website, which are likely to prove helpful in the 11th hour.

A-level results: When are they expected and where to collect them?

04:42 , Arpan Rai

The students awaiting their A-level results will be able to secure them on the portal of Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) from 8.15am on Thursday, 18 August, said officials from the organisation handling the admission and application process to universities.

Students looking to access their much-awaited results to ensure they have their sign-in details readily available when they sit in the morning to check their grades.

Where can students collect their A-level results?

It’s a mixed bag with the results declaration as some of the schools and colleges will allow their students to receive their results in person. However, some universities will publish the results online.

For best outcomes, the students should check with their school or college to find out when their results will be made available.

3 things never to say to a teen who is disappointed with their A-Level results

Wednesday 17 August 2022 18:15 , Matt Mathers

Results are in and they are not what they’d hoped for. Imy Brighty-Potts talks to experts about dealing with this very sensitive time, writes Imy Brighty-Potts.

Read Imy’s full piece here:

3 things never to say to a teen who is disappointed with their A-Level results

ICYMI: Students should turn to apprenticeships to ease soaring demand for degrees, Ucas boss warns

Wednesday 17 August 2022 17:15 , Matt Mathers

More students should be steered towards apprenticeships than traditional degrees to bring down soaring demand for higher education places, the head of the university admissions service has warned.

Clare Marchant, the chief executive of Ucas, told The Independent the number of university applicants was expected to hit 1 million in the next few years – up from a record 700,000 this year.

My colleagues Zoe Tidman and Kate Devlin report:

Students ‘should turn to apprenticeships to ease demand for degrees’

Thousands of students could miss out on university first choices, says professor

Wednesday 17 August 2022 16:14 , Matt Mathers

Tens of thousands of students could miss out on their first choices for university in what is likely to be the most competitive year ever for courses, it has been suggested.

The proportion of pupils receiving top grades could fall by almost 10 percentage points compared with last year, when students were given grades determined by teachers rather than exams due to the Covid-19 pandemic, an education expert has said.

Aine Fo:

Thousands of students could miss out on university first choices, says professor

Stigma remains among students about apprenticeships versus degrees – survey

Wednesday 17 August 2022 15:45 , Matt Mathers

Stigma and dated views remain around apprenticeships as being second-rate to a university degree, a survey has suggested.

Graduate careers service Prospects said views of apprenticeship content on its website have dropped by per cent compared with last year, while views on advice for getting into university have increased by 38 per cent.

Aine Fo reports:

Stigma remains among students about apprenticeships versus degrees – survey

Birmingham reduces clearing places

Wednesday 17 August 2022 15:30 , Matt Mathers

The change saw options at the Russell Group universities - of which Liverpool University is a member - dwindle compared to last week, with 1,785 courses at 15 of the 24 elite institutions as of Wednesday morning, compared with 2,358 courses at 17 of them on Friday.

The University of Birmingham, which is also a member of the Russell Group, had shown on the Ucas website 10 courses as being available last week but has now advised people to check its own website on Thursday for any vacancies.

This is expected to be one of the most competitive years for university places and admissions service Ucas has acknowledged universities have been more cautious in their offer-making.

University of Liverpool responds

Wednesday 17 August 2022 15:15 , Matt Mathers

Commenting on the administrative blip that showed too many course on clearing, a Liverpool University spokesperson said: "The University of Liverpool will be in clearing for a small number of high-quality candidates in a range of subjects, but we are unable to be more specific until results day tomorrow, when we will know exactly which courses might have spaces available.

"The Ucas clearing pages were live for a period of time for pre-qualified applicants, as is the case each year. We removed the pages while we determine which courses are available in advance of results day tomorrow, when we will advertise any vacancies."

University blames ‘admin blip’ for drop in clearing places

Wednesday 17 August 2022 14:57 , Matt Mathers

The number of courses for students in clearing has dropped ahead of A-level results day, with one university blaming an "administrative blip" for showing more than 500 as available when they should not have been.

With less than 24 hours to go until the exam results are published, the availability of courses for those who do not get into their first choices was down on last week - most significantly at the University of Liverpool.

As of Wednesday morning, a PA news agency snapshot of the UK’s largest higher education providers showed there were 22,685 courses with vacancies for students living in England, down from 23,280 on Friday.

The University of Liverpool had shown 529 courses as available in clearing on the Ucas website last week but it is understood this should not have been the case and was an "administrative blip".

Wednesday 17 August 2022 14:53 , Matt Mathers

Good afternoon and welcome to The Independent’s coverage of A-level results day.

Hundreds of thousands of teenagers will get their results in less than 24 hours.

Stay tuned as we bring you all the latest developments as they come in.