This year’s results marked the first time in 20 years that the number of students receiving top marks declined; 26.6% of students were awarded an A grade – down on the 27% achieved in 2011. However, the overall pass rate for exams has risen to 98%, a statistic which has increased year on year for the past three decades.
Top marks for drama exams rose, with 3.7% of students receiving an A*, compared to last year’s 3.6%. But the number of A grades awarded for drama A-level exams dropped by 1.5%.
This year’s successful university applicants will be the first to pay the uncapped tuition fees, with some courses charging £9,000 per year. This has resulted in a 7% fall in the number of students applying for university places.
Universities minister David Willetts dismissed the long-term relevance of the dip in applicant numbers: ‘There is a long-term trend for more and more people to aspire to go to university and for more and more employers to look to employ people with higher education qualifications and I personally don’t think, taking the long view, that trend has suddenly stopped.’
UCAS chief executive Mary Curnock Cook said: ‘Despite the fall in applications this year, entry to higher education remains competitive and we expect to see an active Clearing period. Over 25,000 courses are showing vacancies for UK applicants. More than 50,000 people found a course in Clearing last year.’
Cook offered advice to students still searching for places: ‘It is important that all students research course requirements thoroughly and think carefully before making a decision that is likely to affect their future career. Anyone considering applying again next year can research 2013 courses on our website now.’