A-level students in England will be given grades estimated by their teachers, rather than by an algorithm, after a government U-turn. Here are some reactions from those who have lost out on university places amid the confusion.
‘It’s too late’
“I’m relieved but quite frustrated at the same time. It’s too late,” says Zainab Ali, 18, from London.
Zainab’s predicted grades were an A* in history, an A in psychology, and a C in chemistry. But after she was given an A, B and a D on results day last week, she lost her place to study psychology at Queen Mary University of London, and the course is now full.
“I’m facing the consequences for the indecisiveness of people who are in charge,” Zainab says.
She’s come to terms with the fact that she’s going to her second choice, the University of Westminster, instead – but still feels frustrated because she had “always wanted” to go to Queen Mary’s since being a child. “It’s just a very vibrant environment and I really had admired that. I just automatically fell in love,” she says.
Zainab says the past week has been an “awful” and “confusing” experience. “I felt like I’ve been really let down. Now [after the U-turn] it’s a bit different, but I still feel a bit let down after all of that. It was really, really stressful.”
‘He’s made the best of a bad situation’
Kath Burbidge’s son Sam Thier is working a shift at B&Q near his home in Willsbridge, Bristol. At the same time, the 18-year-old is on the phone waiting his turn to speak to Cardiff University. He wants to see if they’ll make space for him on the dentistry course he initially had an offer for, but was rejected last week as his predicted grades of A*AA were downgraded to BBB.
“I cried for 48 hours and didn’t sleep after Thursday. I just feel so sorry for him,” Kath says. “He’s worked so hard on everything.”
Sam’s A* in chemistry meant Cardiff offered him a place on their chemistry Masters course. He’d just decided to accept it – and therefore handed in his notice at B&Q – when the news came through that his grades would be bumped up.
As she receives updates by text from Sam (he’s now 20th in the queue), Kath wonders if he might take the chemistry offer instead.
“He’s trying to just make the best of an awful, awful job that just never should have happened. Will he think ‘I’ll go and do chemistry now’, just because he’s fed up with the whole thing?”
‘I can keep my head up now’
Connor Bragger, 18, from Redditch, was given BCD last Thursday, and needed a BBB to get into a journalism course at Sheffield. He was predicted ABB so should, theoretically, be allowed to go now.
But tonight, he’s disappointed to find the phone lines for the University of Sheffield’s admissions office are closed – so despite the announcement, he doesn’t know if he’ll be heading there in September.
“Results day is [supposed to be] when you get answers – not more questions,” Connor says.
His second choice is the University of Gloucestershire, where he has an unconditional offer. But now he’s got the grades for Sheffield, he hopes he can go there.
Connor is trying to stay positive, and says he’s pleased with the U-turn.
“There were two boxes that I was annoyed about not meeting, which was getting into my first choice, and getting grades I felt like I had earned. So even if I’m unable to get into my first choice, I feel as though I’ve now got results that I earned from my hard work all year. So if it doesn’t all go to plan, I can still keep my head up a little bit higher.”