Four days have passed since BTec students across the UK were due to get their results.
But those four days have been an anxious wait for many students – because they’ve heard nothing about their grades.
Most received their qualification, according to the Association of Colleges, but exam board Pearson admits there has been a delay for some.
With university spaces filling up – and clearing opportunities dying down – students worry they won’t make it to university.
Pearson didn’t say when results will be available but is offering to speak to universities on behalf of affected students.
The UK’s largest awarding body for qualifications including BTecs, A-levels and GCSEs says it is looking into the issue “urgently”.
Some students who took Cambridge Technicals – vocational qualifications similar to BTecs but administered by the OCR exam board – are experiencing the same delays.
OCR apologised for “adding to the stress” of students and said it would confirm results “as soon as possible”.
That’s no help to 18-year-old Ellie Clarke though.
She’s spent the past two years completing her BTec in Health and Social Care – which included coursework, exams and 100 hours of voluntary work caring in the community.
Her “heart sank” when she went to see what grade her hard work had led to and the website showed nothing.
“As students, we’re committed to completing our assignments on time, but our exam board couldn’t even commit to getting our results in on time.”
She’s since struggled to sleep and feels helpless.
“I’ve cried a few times. I don’t know what to do or who to contact because there’s realistically nothing I can do.”
‘It’s like we’re not important’
Without her results, she says it’s hard to access clearing.
“I have until next week to accept my accommodation, as the universities now need our results as a matter of urgency.”
Ellie and her classmates “feel forgotten”, she adds, like they’re “not important”.
But she is committed to caring for people, regardless of how the delay over results ends up.
“If this year doesn’t go to plan, I’ll carry on, get a nursing degree one day and treat those people that lowered my grades or didn’t give me my grades – to show them how hard I worked.”
Pearson said: “We understand the frustration this must have caused. We are working closely with the students and colleges involved to look into this urgently and provide any outstanding results as soon as we can.”
‘There’s nothing to celebrate’
“On results day you know you’re going to be nervous for what you get, but because we haven’t had our results and it’s going on for four days now, those nerves rack up. It’s quite hard to deal with.”
Faheem Khan is waiting anxiously to see whether he will be accepted into either Wolverhampton University or De Monfort University to study Pharmacy.
The 20-year-old says Pearson “needs to get itself together”.
“If the roles were reversed and we were to give our results late we would be disqualified. It’s not fair, we would be punished.”
Faheem was hoping to go out for a meal with his friends after finding out their results but the plans are on hold because “there’s nothing to celebrate”.
“If I try and look at the positives, this results day is something to remember.”
‘I don’t think I’m going to university’
Thaila Hazeldine wants to do a nursing degree after finishing her Level 3 Health and Social Care BTec. But now she doesn’t think that’s likely.
“Clearing places are filling up, I just don’t think I’m going to university this year.”
She hoped to have a place confirmed at Brighton University by now. The uni is holding a place for her until she finds out her results.
If Thaila misses the requirements though she had been hoping to get a spot at the University of Portsmouth. That chance is now gone – there are no spaces left.
“We’ve had little communication from Pearson. It’s exhausting for us.”
Thaila hasn’t joined some of her friends at the pub to celebrate the end of two years’ hard work. Instead she’s been “constantly checking” her phone for updates.
The 18-year-old feels Pearson has put her and her classmates at a “huge” disadvantage and left them feeling “frustrated and forgotten about”.
“I’ve worked so hard for the past two years – even when it was really difficult and I felt like quitting – because I knew by putting in the work I’d achieve great things. To have that taken away by Pearson is disheartening.”
‘The good places are running out’
“I’ve worked really hard as I sat my exams before lockdown,” Badar Hussain tells Newsbeat.
He’s achieved distinctions and merits throughout the year and says the delay in results could harm his university prospects.
“If I don’t meet my offer, I can’t go through clearing because I have no results to show and all the good places are running out.”
It means the 18-year-old will have to re-do his course or take a gap year.
Badar says he’s received no updates from his college or Pearson about his results, despite sending multiple emails.
“On the day, I was sent no information about what my results were or what to do for clearing. It’s been four days and there has been no information about this or what to tell my universities.”
He feels the system is “unfair” and BTec students like him are dismissed and not taken seriously.
Badar wants to study science further and become a doctor – but for now, “the future is unimaginable”.
“Any help from the government with reserved university places would perhaps help.”