Competition for university places to continue into 2023, students told

Students are awaiting A-level results after sitting exams for the first time since before the pandemic.


Students have been warned that the race for university places is likely to remain competitive into next year as tens of thousands await A-level results on Thursday.

People who might consider deferring their place until 2023 have been advised to “think very carefully” by the interim chief executive of Universities UK.

Competition for university spots this September is expected to be among the toughest yet, but Chris Hale said the pattern is likely to continue next year.

Speaking during a Ucas-hosted Facebook Live session on Wednesday, hours before students find out their grades, he said there is “big demand” for university places this year.

He said: “I think going to university this year in 2022 is a great option. There’s lots of options and opportunities available. Lots of courses are available across the system.”

He described going to university as “a great investment for young people”, saying employment opportunities are often better and wages higher.

He added: “There’s big demand for university places this year. If you are thinking of deferring and going to university next year, make sure you talk to your school, make sure you talk to your parents, your counsellors and those closest to you and just think through that decision.

“I think it’s really important because, next year, I think, there is growing demand for higher education, so it’s going to continue to be as competitive, so my advice would be to think very carefully about deferring.”

Grades are expected to be down this year compared with last year – when students were teacher-assessed – and it is thought almost 40% of students are likely to use the clearing system to get a place on a course.

In a report published at the weekend, Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at the University of Buckingham, said there could be 80,000 fewer top grades – A* or A – awarded than in 2021, meaning 40,000 students could miss out on their course or university of choice.

Grades are still expected to be higher than before the pandemic.

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