Thursday, 18 August 2011

Results Up, Places Down

The A-Level results are out.

Students sitting a maths exam
Image from Wikipedia
First the statistics.

Once again the results have improved; this is the 29th year in a row that the overall number of passes has increased.

The percentage of A-level grades A*-E awarded has gone up very slightly, from 97.6% to 97.8%

But for the first time in 15 years there has been no increase in the total proportion getting A or A* grades. Just over 27% of entries scored these grades, with a small rise in the proportion awarded A*.

The gap seems to be closing between boys and girls. The number of A* grades for boys has gone up from 7.9% to 8.2%. For girls, the number of A* grades has fallen slightly from 8.3% to 8.2%.

More people took A-levels this year - the number of A-level grades issued is up 1.6% to 867,317.

There is good news for mathematics. Maths and the sciences have all seen significant increases in the number of entries. Maths (including Further Maths) has gone up by 7.4%. There has been a 40% increase in students taking maths over the past 5 years.

And in these subjects, the rate of improvement for boys is bigger than that for girls. The gap between boys and girls at grade A in these subjects has fallen from 0.9% to 0.3%.

Sadly, although maths and the sciences are faring well, modern foreign languages continue to decline. French and German continue their downward trend, with the number of entrants down 4.7% and 6.9% respectively

All these facts and figures do not help those who are now facing the very real scramble for places in the increasingly competitive race for university places. The increase in tuition fees, scheduled for September 2012, has been the biggest factor pushing up the number of students applying this year. Whereas many students would have previously opted for a year out while they ponder their futures, this does not make financial sense for those taking on a student loan.

A student beginning university this year will pay a maximum of £3000 per year for the duration of their course. A student beginning next September will pay up to £9000 per year.

The fact that there are few jobs available is another factor driving people towards university.

The UCAS tracking website crashed this morning due to the sheer number of visits

Michael Gove, the education secretary, has promised a through review of the A-Level system. He is reportedly interested in moving away from the current modular structure, and towards a system whereby more emphasis is placed on a single final examination.

So congratulations if you have achieved the grades you wanted. And good luck if you are still looking for a uni place.

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