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Computer errors led to 13 A Level students missing courses

Computer marking errors by awarding body AQA led to 13 A Level students missing out on their first choice of university or course last September, according qualifications regulator Ofqual.

Publishing an inquiry yesterday, the regulator revealed a new on-screen marking system had helped cause 622 GCSE and A Level candidates to initially receive a lower grade for their qualifications than they should have.

In total, 3,353 students received the wrong marks. Of the incorrect qualifications to be issued, 187 were at GCSE, 289 at AS level and 146 were at A Level.

AQA’s computing error caused some material to not be marked, resulting in the students affected receiving lower marks.

“The failings by AQA identified by this inquiry are very disappointing, especially as they led to some candidates missing out on their first choice of university or course,” said Ofqual chief executive Isabel Nisbet.

“Factors that contributed to the marking error included limited piloting of the new

on-screen marking system, a lack of effective risk assessments and deficiencies in

the role and training of examiners on the new system.”

Although UCAS has confirmed that university places for the majority of A Level students with wrong marks were unaffected, 11 learners were either accepted by their second choice university or placed through clearing, and two were not placed at all.

AQA is carrying out an internal investigation and is drafting an action plan with Ofqual and its regulatory partners in Wales and Northern Ireland.

Jason Rainbow

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