From education to employment

Results Day 2023: Sector Analysis


Today (17th August) is Results Day 2023! This year, we have received analysis of the results from multiple companies within the sector.

In this article, we will embed all the data to show a varied view of the stats from this year’s results day.

Check out all our sector response pieces below:

Thousands of pupils secure place at their first-choice university as grading returns to normal

  • University acceptances up on 2019, with 79% getting first their choice
  • 27.2% of A levels at grade A or above, compared to 25.4% in 2019
  • 90.5% of T Level students achieve a Pass or above in the second year of the flagship new qualification
  • Results back to pre-pandemic levels in an important step back to normal

Young people across England are celebrating exam results this morning – with thousands of them moving on to university, apprenticeships and the world of work.

Overall, 79% of 18-year-old pupils in the UK receiving a decision today have gained a place at their first choice university.

16, 530 students who received free school meals (FSM) have also gained a place at university which is a 60% increase from 2019.

In a sign that grading is returning to normal, this year, 27.2% of UK entries for A levels achieved a grade A and above, slightly higher than 25.4% in 2019, before the pandemic. 76% of UK entries achieved a grade C and above, in line with 75.9% in 2019. 

This year has seen Mathematics continue to be the most popular A Level since 2014 as well as record-breaking numbers of A Level entries in Computing, producing over 16% more entries than last year. The data from this year’s results day show 34.8% of entries from free schools and 25.4% of entries from academies getting a grade A or above – compared to 22.0% of entries from Local Authority maintained comprehensive schools. 

Around 3,400 T Level students received their results today as the second-ever cohort completed the new, high-quality technical qualification. 90.5% of T Level students achieved a Pass or above.

T Levels offer a wide range of progression options as many of these students will also go on to do apprenticeships, and UCAS has today revealed that 1,220 T Level students have been accepted into university, demonstrating the value and reputation of these qualifications.

Over 250,000 certificates were awarded for those completing their Level 3 vocational and technical qualifications. 

College Contribution to Results Day 2023 – AoC

There are over 1.2 million 16-18-year-olds studying in publicly funded education. Of those, around half (c. 49%) are studying in colleges, 43% in schools and 8% in work-based learning. There are more publicly funded 16–18-year-olds in colleges than in schools.

Qualification levels:

  • 2% (c. 26,500) are studying at Level 1.
  • 14% (c. 162,000) are studying at Level 2.
  • 73% (c. 870,000) are studying at Level 3.
  • 11% on other types of courses.

Level 3:

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of publicly funded 16-18 year olds (c. 870,000 students) are studying at Level 3. Over half a million of these Level 3 students are studying for A Levels, including over 140,000 also taking some Applied General qualifications in mixed programmes.

Over 320,000 level 3 students are studying Level 3 vocational and technical qualifications as their main programme, including T Levels and Applied Generals, such as BTECs and Cambridge Technical.

Colleges have:

  • 90% of T Level students.
  • 80% of Level 3 vocational and technical students.
  • 44% of all Level 3 students.
  • 23% of A Level students.

Education Policy Institute Analysis

After three years of grading directly affected by the pandemic, 2023 marked the first year where A level, technical and vocational qualifications were set to return to roughly pre-pandemic levels. Most students completing their 16-19 study in 2023 will not have sat a formal exam before this year, as they were awarded teacher assessed GCSE grades in 2021. Entries for A levels in 2023 were higher than ever, likely to be explained by an increase in the size of the 18-year-old population and by the record levels of high GCSE grades registered in 2021, which may have influenced students course decisions.

There were almost 800,000 A levels awarded in 2023 and 255,000 certificates awarded in the vocational and technical qualifications (of those reported in the official performance tables).

Although this year’s exams returned to pre-pandemic grading, the government have included a protection mechanism to account for the severe disruption that the students have faced during recent years. The protection mechanism assists students by adjusting grades upwards in subjects where national performance was lower than pre-pandemic levels. It is currently unclear to what extent this affected grading in 2023.

Check out the full analysis here.

Sutton Trust Analysis


OVERALL: The proportion of A level grades at A and A* has again fallen, from 36.4% in 2022, to 27.2% in 2023, a fall of 9.2 percentage points (data for England, Wales and NI).  This is still above the 25.4% of 2019, in a year where Ofqual had aimed to return to pre-pandemic grading levels. In comparison, lower grades have fallen more: overall grades of E and above are slightly below the figure in 2019 (97.3% compared to 97.6%).

GEOGRAPHY: Regional gaps within England have widened since 2019. The proportion of students gaining A and above has fallen the most in the North East (down from 23% to 22%, a fall of 1pp), also falling slightly in Yorkshire and the Humber (down -0.2 from 23.2% to 23%), but has increased the most in London (from 26.9% to 30%, up 3.1pp) and the South East (from 28.3% to 30.3%, up 2pp).

SCHOOL TYPE: The gap between state and private schools has also widened since 2019, A*/A grades at independent schools are up by almost 3 percentage points to 47.4%, while at academies and comprehensives they are up by less than 1.5 percentage points (at 25.4% and 22% respectively). At FE colleges A grades are down by more than 2 percentage points since 2019, at 14.2%.


OVERALL: 230,600 18-year olds have been accepted to university across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, a slight decrease on the figure last year (which was 238,090), but an increase on numbers pre-pandemic. The 18 year old entry rate in England has fallen from 32.5% to 30.6%, from a high of 34.7% in 2021. It is still higher than the pre-pandemic rate of 28.5% in 2019.

UNDER-REPRESENTED AREAS: Entry rates in all POLAR groups (historic levels of HE participation) are down this year, but remain higher than 2019. The gap in participation between the most under-represented areas and the least has closed slightly since last year, currently at 24.4pp, down from 25.6pp in 2022, but still higher than the 23pp gap in 2019 – and is as high as the gap was back in 2013 (24.4pp).

SELECTIVE UNIVERSITIES:  Last year, after several years of expansion, acceptances at higher tariff universities fell. The share of acceptances at higher tariff universities stayed at a similar level this year (40.1% of 18 year old acceptances vs 39.98% in 2022), with slightly lower numbers of students accepted (101,560 18 year olds this year, compared to 104,430 in 2022, and a lower level of 86,420 in 2019).

STUDENTS ELIGIBLE FOR FREE SCHOOL MEALS: While it has been reported that the number of FSM students accepted to university has increased by 60% since 2019, the number of students eligible for FSM in English secondary schools has increased by 76% between 2018/19 and 2022/23.

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