Image Credit: City of Stoke on Trent Sixth Form
Following the record number of clearing applications this year, the University had to lower the grade requirements on many subjects. Subjects such as Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE), and Criminology, were heavily lowered so to allow students with lower grades a position at York.
Criminology was reduced from its typical offer of AAB to BBB – two grades lower than previously required. More shockingly however, PPE was lowered from its usually high requirements of A*AA (including A-level maths), to BBB, where only GCSE maths was required, not A-level (pictured below). This lowering of requirements by a few grades occurred across the subject spectrum.
IMAGE: University of York
While there is clearly a need to fill the spaces so to ensure funding for courses, this lowering of standards by the University seems to show a true sense of desperation on the University’s part regarding its intake of students. This could show that York as a university is becoming a less popular choice for students.
With the number of clearing applications increasing, and the grades needed to receive a place at University decreasing each year, it is clear that university as a choice after A-Levels is becoming increasingly more unpopular, as universities across the country are becoming desperate to fill spaces. This could stem from the high tuition and living fees students face going to university, as opposed to the lack of fees they would face if they went on to do apprenticeships or went straight into full time work. Therefore, perhaps the lowering of standards by universities is necessary to ensure their successful continuation.
Additionally, the lowering of standards has also been affected by the lower grades A-Level students are receiving, with this year’s results being the lowest in a decade according to the Telegraph, wherein only 25.5% of grades were A*/A which is the lowest it has been since 2007. Therefore, universities are being forced to lower their grade requirements so to fit with the lower grades students are receiving each year. Some have suggested that A-Level grade results have worsened because A-levels are simply getting harder. This was evidenced recently by the fact that OCR maths students only needed to achieve 54% to receive an A grade, which shows how difficult A-levels are becoming, and thus how difficult it is for students to achieve the top grades needed to attend a university. This leads universities to have to lower their grade requirements to avoid threats to their maintenance, such as budget cuts.
Ultimately, while York’s severe lowering of grade requirements this year does show desperation and perhaps lower popularity of York as a university, it also fits with the pattern of other universities doing the same, due to the overall lower grades achieved by students, and the increasing difficulty of their exams.
Nouse approached the University for a comment, and a spokesperson told us this: “Like other institutions, the University sets entry requirements for clearing vacancies based on A level outcomes. As a reduction in A-A* outcomes has been reported this year for many subjects, the entry requirements for some clearing vacancies have been adjusted accordingly.
“We are eager to encourage clearing applications from a wide range of backgrounds, and each application is considered individually. A range of factors, including A-level grades, are taken into account in order to ensure that students have the potential to thrive academically at York, and take advantage of the huge range of opportunities available here.
“Our clearing and adjustment vacancies offer excellent opportunities for well-qualified and talented students to find a place on an excellent course at a world-leading University.”