By Claire Ward
After a year of mayhem, it only followed suit that on August 13th, when A-level results were announced, that they sent the country into outrage. Results Day is widely recognised as a stressful time of year, although this was massively amplified for a generation of students who never even sat their exams. The significant decrease from predicted grades left 40% of students in shock with the yearly scramble for University places becoming much more frantic than usual.
Accusations were immediately thrown at the country’s exam regulator, Ofqual, and their newly created algorithm which appeared to disproportionately benefit students from independent schools who saw an increase of top grades over double the amount that comprehensive schools were given when compared to previous year group’s results. This ensured that a larger portion of students across the country from poorer backgrounds was much less likely to receive the grades needed (and often predicted by their teachers) in order to secure their first-choice place at University.
However, in a major U-turn by Boris Johnson, A-level results are set to be reassessed. This change of tune seems to have been mostly as a direct result of student-led protests, demanding that teacher’s grade predictions should be trusted. Their signs read “f*** the algorithm” – demonstrating the sheer frustration and anger that this travesty has caused amongst the next generation of freshers. The majority of the protests were focused outside the Department for Education in London, which undoubtedly placed considerable pressure on both Gavin Williamson and the Prime Minister to appease students and change the system. As a result, it was suggested that Centre-Assessed Grades be considered alongside results until those grades could be reassessed.
Despite the change, confusion persisted as many students found that they now met the grade requirements of their first-choice University after already being accepted into others via the clearing process. This then passed the pressure onto the Universities, who had already seen surprising interest from international students despite the current pandemic disruption. Unfortunately, this may mean that some courses are already too full to accept those with reassessed grades and many may face a forced deferred entry.
The government also asked for Universities to be more considerate and lenient with their offers, leaving the University of Hull’s reputation for welcoming a large portion of their students through clearing, working nicely in their favour. In a live interview for the BBC, the University of Hull’s Student Recruitment Director, Anja Hazebroek, stated that students should not be put off going to university through clearing and promised that “Universities want to support you, we see you as an individual” and acknowledged that students are more than the grades they have been assigned.
Thankfully, there will still be some activities to look forward to after the results fiasco has ended. Freshers week may not be as traditional this year but there will be plenty to get stuck in with regardless. According to the updates from Vice-Chancellor, Susan Lea, freshers will still be able to enjoy outdoor entertainment including a food festival, cinema screenings and society taster sessions. Hopefully, this will make for a warm welcome to the University of Hull and allow us to celebrate the freshers who have already overcome so much adversity during the past 6 months.
Cover Image by Avery Evans on Unsplash