Students who fail to achieve their predicted A-level grades will have their university places held open for them while they appeal under plans to be outlined by the Government.
Pupils who are awarded unfair grades must have a "safety net" to ensure that their university plans are not ruined, the higher education minister has told vice-chancellors.
On Thursday, some 250,000 students will receive grades that are largely based on statistical modelling as well as the rank order of their class drawn up by teachers.
But following chaos in Scotland where close to 125,000 students' grades were downgraded from their teacher predictions, there are fears of similar problems on Thursday.
It raises the prospect of students losing out on university places if they are given incorrect grades.
Even if they are later awarded the correct mark on appeal, they may still lose out on their first choice institution if the place has been reallocated by the time they get the result of their challenge.
Now, in a letter to vice chancellors, the higher education minister, Michelle Donelan, said universities should set aside space on undergraduate courses for teenagers who have missed their offers and are appealing against their grades.
"We expect the vast majority of grades to be accurate, but it is essential that we have this safety net for young people who may otherwise be held back from moving on to their chosen route," she said.
"Where you are aware that a student's grade may change as the result of an appeal, I would encourage you, where possible, to hold their place until they receive the result of that appeal."
Read more: How can I appeal my A-level results?
It is the first time that the Government has intervened in the row over grading this summer as ministers attempt to see off a repeat of the furore around results day in Scotland.
The Government has imposed student number controls on universities this year in an attempt to prevent institutions from aggressively poaching students from their rivals to stay afloat.
Universities predict that overseas students – who pay higher tuition fees – will stay away this year due to coronavirus, leaving a number of empty spaces as well as a financial black hole.
But Ms Donelan told vice-chancellors that any students who are given places following a successful appeal will not count towards their institution's limited number of places. This means universities will be able to fill all their allotted places with students who have met their offers and then take on more who have been marked up.
The Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, and her deputy, the education minister John Swinney, have spent much of last week defending the system after close to 125,000 results were downgraded from predictions.
Data from the Scottish regulator showed that pass rates for pupils in the most deprived areas were reduced by 15.2 per cent, compared to just 6.9 per cent for pupils from the most affluent backgrounds.
But on Monday, Ms Sturgeon was forced to apologise to students. Ahead of a Scottish Government climbdown on grades on Tuesday, Ms Sturgeon said on Monday night: "Despite our best intentions, I do acknowledge we did not get this right and I'm sorry for that."
Mr Swinney, the Scottish education minister, who faces a vote of no confidence over the fiasco, is to address the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday and will set out plans to overhaul the grading system.
In a sign that Downing Street is not planning on a similar U-turn, Gavin Williamson, the Education Secretary, on Monday defended this year's controversial A-level and GCSE grading system.
He acknowledged that without exams "even the best system is not perfect", but insisted that the algorithm being used to predict students' grades is "fundamentally a fair one".
There are rising concerns that the English exam regulator's statistical model – which, like the Scottish one, takes into account pupils' past performance as well as their school's historic grades – will punish children from poor communities.
Earlier this week, the Children's Commissioner warned that it will be a "complete disaster" if disadvantaged pupils fare worse this year.
Anne Longfield said there is a "real worry" that children from the most deprived backgrounds will "miss out" on the grades they deserve after exams were axed due to the virus crisis.
Fears were raised on Sunday night that students whose marks are downgraded face missing out on university places while exam boards assess appeals.
Students appealing their results must be awarded a higher grader by September 7 in order to gain access to their chosen university, but none of the three major exam boards have so far committed to processing all appeals by that date.
Ms Donelan also urged admissions chiefs to take a "holistic view" of students and use a "wider range of evidence" than just their A-level results when weighing up whether to admit them.
"I am sure you will agree that it is important that we all take responsibility to do what we can to ensure that young people are not disadvantaged by the unique circumstances this year," she said.
Roger Taylor, the chairman of the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) has insisted that using a statistical model to predict results was the "fairest possible way" to award marks.
Ofqual said its early analysis showed that students from all backgrounds, including more disadvantaged and black, ethnic minority and Asian communities, have not been disadvantaged by this year's grading process.
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