Record numbers of UK students to get first choice of university

Record numbers of UK students are to be accepted by their first choice of university this year despite a surge in applications and uncertainty over A-level grades, according to the head of the national admissions services, Ucas.

Clare Marchant, the chief executive of Ucas, said she did not expect this year’s admissions process to be derailed by a “tsunami of appeals” over teacher-assessed grades, or Tags, awarded in place of formal exams because of the high numbers of applicants happy to get their first choice.

“If we have record numbers, 80%-plus, get their first place, you know it’s going to be a small cohort that will go into appeals territory,” Marchant told a seminar hosted by the Higher Education Policy Institute ahead of A-level results being published on 10 agosto.

Marchant sought to reassure those who did not gain their first choice, saying there would be “boundless choice” of alternatives, with places on 30,000 courses available through Ucas’s clearing process that takes places after results are published.

“Our advice to students is very much going to be, we’d probably expect record numbers to get their first choice, which is great. But if you don’t get your first choice, you look at your insurance, look at your other choices, and look at what sort of options are available to you in clearing,” Marchant said.

The Ucas chief executive conceded there would be “pockets” of shortages of places in some selective universities. Ella dijo: “Some institutions will have been very ambitious in their offer-making, some will have held back because Tags are an unknown quantity. But I think we’ll see a really fair spread in clearing this year.”

Ucas has said record numbers of UK school-leavers and sixth-formers are applying for higher education places starting in autumn. Más que 310,000 18-year-olds had applied by its deadline at the end of June, 10% more than the previous record of 281,000 en 2020. Más que 50% of school leavers in Northern Ireland have applied for university places, y 44% in England.

Marchant said that while application rates among students from disadvantaged backgrounds were rising, those from more affluent backgrounds were rising more quickly, potentially widening the participation gap between the social classes.

“The gap between the most advantaged students and the most disadvantaged students has been reducing over a number of years [so] we want to keep an eye on that this year. Everyone has been disadvantaged by the pandemic but there is a danger that we have those most disadvantaged fall behind,” Marchant said.

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