From education to employment

A level results day 2017 – Sector Response

A Level results day 2017 (17 Aug) and as of midnight, 416,310 applicants have been already accepted into higher education through UCAS.

This still reflects is a decrease of 7,570 people (2%), compared to A level results day last year as huge concerns are voiced from potential students about high University fees.

This year’s A Level results are the first to cover the new linear format for 13 subjects, where AS results no longer impact on the final result.  This has already had a significant impact on the number of AS Level entries, which have decreased from 1.1 million in 2016 to 660,000 in 2017, this looks set to continue as the A Level reforms continue.

Today’s (17 August, 2017) A level results show:

  • The overall UK pass rate (A* to E) has remained stable since 2009, and is 97.9% for 2017
  • The percentage of entries awarded the top A* or A is 26.3%, an increase on last year
  • Mathematics remains the most popular A level subject, followed by combined English (literature and language)
  • The proportion of all entries in science, technology, engineering and technology (STEM) has increased
  • There are more female entries in chemistry than males for the first time since 2004
  • The number of entries to facilitating subjects has increased, including in mathematics, further mathematics, geography and physics
  • The proportion of A* to A grades awarded in French, German and Spanish all increased
  • The percentage of entries awarded the top grade at AS level has increased to 23.8%

Sector Response to today’s A Level Results

Commenting on the figures, David Willett, Director at The Open University, said:
“The 2 per cent decrease in students taking up university places provides employers with the opportunity to unlock the potential of young talent. Research we recently commissioned shows that 50% of employers are already making use of the apprenticeship levy, including higher and degree apprenticeships, so young people entering the workplace this year will have plenty of career and training opportunities available to them, enabling both organisational and individual development. 
“With rising A-Level results, there is no shortage of talent among those entering the workforce. Employers who are able to implement a life-long learning structure will reap the benefits of investing in the skills of young staff through effective use of work-based learning, as well as future-proofing their businesses so they’re adaptable to change.”

Nick GibbMinister of State for School Standards, Nick Gibb, said: “Congratulations to everyone receiving their results today, which are the culmination of 2 years of dedication and hard work. We want everyone, regardless of background, to be able to fulfil their potential and, for many, A levels are the pathway to a university degree.

“The increase in entries to facilitating subjects, those that give students the greatest choice of options at university, mean even more young people will have access to all the opportunities higher education provides.

“There has been a strong uptake in core subjects, such as maths, which continues to be the most popular A level with maths and further maths having nearly 25% more entries than in 2010. This and increasing entries to science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects bodes well for the economic prosperity of our country. It will help to grow our workforce in these sectors, allowing young people to secure well-paid jobs and compete in the global jobs market of post Brexit Britain.

“Increasing the number of girls studying STEM subjects has been an important objective of the government, so it is particularly pleasing to see that more young women are taking STEM subjects and that for the first time since 2004 there are more young women than young men studying chemistry. I hope everyone receiving their results will go on to successful careers.”

david hughes 100 x100David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges (AoC), said: “Congratulations to all students receiving their A Level results today.

“While many young people will now be considering going to a university or negotiating the clearing process, it is important to remember there are other options available. 

“Traditional three-year full-time university degrees have a vitally important role, but may not be right for everyone.  There are many routes to getting into a chosen career.  Further education colleges, for example, offer a wide range of higher level technical and professional education, including apprenticeships and part-time study options. Not only are tuition fees less at a college, living and travelling costs are also much lower because it’s possible to stay at home.  A higher level apprenticeship, for instance can be just as valuable to an individual as an honours degree, yet with the added bonus of having a job and an income whilst studying. 

“Whatever the path, I want to offer my congratulations to every student on their results and wish them all the best for their next steps.”

Bill Watkin100x100Bill Watkin, Chief Executive of the Sixth Form Colleges Association said:

“Large sixth form colleges and centres specialise in sixth form teaching; in addition, they continue to offer subjects that others have had to drop. There is a direct link between the size of the sixth form and the results students achieve. It is no coincidence that Sixth Form College students are so successful in achieving outstanding results in so many subjects”

This has been another extraordinarily successful year for Sixth Form Colleges. The A level and Applied A level results show clearly that students who attend a Sixth Form College have an excellent chance of getting the best grades they can, and of getting into the university of their choice. This is the first year for the new A level examinations, with their new content and new format in many subjects, and teachers and students in colleges have succeeded, through a relentless focus on high standards, targeted support and specialist expertise, in achieving outstanding outcomes. Colleges like Wilberforce Sixth Form College which is celebrating the best exam results achieved by its students since the College opened, with Advanced level achievement at 98.9% and with 55 of its 60 courses securing a 100% pass rate; or like Huddersfield New College which enjoyed its best ever results, with nearly 50% of grades at  A*, A and B.

Colleges are able to offer a broad curriculum, with many more subjects on offer than might be found in a typical sixth form environment, and it is encouraging to note the number of students gaining a wide range and blend of qualifications that will support them as they go on to University and then the workplace.

However, Sixth Form Colleges will not now rest on their laurels. Government funding levels for sixth formers are so low – considerably lower than for younger pupils and university students – that colleges and schools face a struggle to maintain the wide range of opportunities and experiences, everything from enrichment and sports programmes, community services, pastoral care, careers guidance and UCAS advice to mental health support, that are so important to a good sixth form education.

Bill Watkin adds:

“Sixth Form Colleges have done remarkably well to take on board all the recent changes to A level and Applied A level specifications and examinations, and to deliver once more the fantastic results that we have become used to from them. Because they can focus exclusively on teaching sixth formers, and because they have large numbers of students, they are able to lead the way in supporting young people to get the best results they can and reach the destinations they want.”

Alistair Jarvis100x100Alistair Jarvis, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said:

“There is still a great demand for university places and the proportions of 18-year-olds in the UK applying for university are at their highest ever levels.

“Last year’s application numbers reached a record high. There are a variety of reasons for the drop in applications this year, including the decline in the number of 18 and 19 year olds, changes to funding for degrees in nursing, and the possible impact of the vote to leave the EU. There will still be more applications than there are university places.

“University admissions staff will be working hard to ensure applicants know whether they have been accepted by their firm or insurance offer by 8am on A-level results day.

“As ever, the majority of applicants will get the grades required in their offer and will secure their place at university. Those who do not get the results they had hoped for or did not get any offers will have the option of using the Clearing system. Last year, nearly 65,000 applicants used Clearing to find the right course for them.

“The adjustment process also allows applicants who have achieved better results than expected to find a place on another course, while still holding on to their confirmed place for a limited period.”

Simon Moffatt 100x100Simon Moffatt, human resources director at Prudential’s UK insurance business, said: “It’s an exciting day for students as they get their much-awaited A-Level results. Once the initial excitement has died down, the big question for many is what to do next. The good news is that there is a variety of career paths available and, for school leavers who perhaps don’t want to go to university, we would encourage them to consider the growing number and levels of apprenticeships which are now available across many different sectors.

“Our research has found that unfortunately there is still a misconception among many school leavers that apprenticeship programmes are only available in ‘traditional’ industries like those involving manual labour, or health and childcare.

“No-one should miss out on an opportunity to further their career, education or training because of myths and misunderstandings. Schools and employers need to work together to show students to get the message to students that apprenticeship opportunities now exist across 170 different industries in the UK, including large multi-national organisations like Prudential.”

Petra Wilton 100x100

Petra Wilton, Director of Strategy and External Affairs at the Chartered Management Institute, comments: “Although the proportion of top A-Level grades has risen this year, it’s interesting to note the significant drop in the number of University places confirmed so far. Given the cost of tuition fees, and the news this week that the Government will not be shifting on its plans to increase interest charges on student loans to 6.1%, this is hardly surprising.

“This is why it’s so important that A-level students and their parents are made aware of the professional opportunities and benefits offered by the new breed of degree-level apprenticeships, like the Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship. Funded by the Apprenticeship Levy, students can now earn as they study for a degree. Schools, employers and parents need to work together to change perceptions and get more young people starting degree apprenticeships.”  

“For too many A-Level students about to leave school, the prospect of huge student debt means that traditional university routes are no longer an option. The new Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship gives young people a way to earn as they learn, sidestep tuition fees, and to gain both a degree and professional qualification – and then land a job at the end of their studies. When aware of this option, parents clearly support this route, so we need to ensure that no school leaver misses out regardless of their background.”

Jill Stokoe, education policy adviser at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said: “Congratulations to the many pupils who, despite having dealt with the stress and pressure of rushed-in exam reforms, have done so well in their A-levels. It is good to hear that so many pupils will have the chance to go to university or onto an apprenticeship, if this is what they want to do.

“It is good to see that more pupils are studying maths, English, chemistry and biology at A-level, and that more are doing further maths AS-level, which are all important subjects to gain access to university or work. But it a shame that there has been a dip in pupils studying languages such as French and German, as well as in history.

“Rushing in exam reforms has meant that schools have had little time to prepare, and this year teachers and pupils have struggled to get to grips with the changes to A-levels, with no practice exam papers, fewer available text books and no mark-schemes.”

Jack Parsons 100x100Jack Parsons, CEO of yourfeed, the online platform connecting millennials to employment opportunities with brands, comments on this morning’s A-level results:

“A-levels should no longer be seen as a precursor to a successful, well paid career. Further Education funding has been squeezed over recent years while costs have gone up, reducing the offering to students. Young people are increasingly considering alternative routes into the work place, such as apprenticeships or straight into industry. 

“However, industry is letting future generations down by still looking at academic qualifications when hiring from a primarily skill-led pool of talent. The education system in the UK needs to be updated to reflect this changing talent pool. Skill and ambition is the new degree for our youth and this needs to be recognised.” 

Angela Murray100x100Angela Middleton, Chairman and Founder of MiddletonMurray, the apprenticeships and training consultancy, responds to today’s news of the drop in university applications:
“Today’s results don’t come as a surprise to me as I have seen first-hand that young people have more opportunities now than ever before. Regardless of results, too many people go down the traditional education route without thinking about the end goal – and whether higher education will help them get there. The introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy in April means companies are better set up to support training, upskilling and apprenticeship placements and these should be seen as an excellent alternative to university education.”

Bill Richards, UK Managing Director at Indeed, comments: ‘’While many teenagers will be celebrating this morning, our findings will make reassuring reading for those disappointed by their grades. For students who miss their expected A-Level grades, clearing can still offer a route into university; and our research shows there are many attractive career options for those who decide a degree isn’t for them.

‘’It’s still widely assumed that a worker will earn more in their lifetime if they have a degree, but this ‘graduate premium’ is steadily being eroded. Some non-graduate career paths can lead to roles that don’t just pay well, but pay well over the national average salary.

“Alternatively there are apprenticeships, which are now available in a wide range of white-collar professions. Increasingly seen as a genuine alternative to a degree, apprenticeships are attracting thousands of ambitious school-leavers keen to combine their studies with a salary rather than debt.’’

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