‘I had my heart set on Liverpool’: The A-level U-turn came too late for these students

‘The tears in my household for the last week have honestly been appalling’

Today’s inevitable A-level U-turn gave students the choice to go with their original teacher-assessed grades. It means students who initially got rejected because of the algorithm could have a chance of going to their first-choice uni after all.

However, for many students, with their original courses filling up and accommodation being booked, it’s too late, and the U-turn can’t fix the hand they were dealt during last week’s chaos.

Anna’s moderated grades meant she was rejected from two different courses at her first choice uni, Liverpool. Instead, amid the melee of results day, she ended up with a place at York.

If she had been originally awarded her centre-assessed grades, Anna would have met her offer for Liverpool. Now, it’s too late.

In the time it took for the government to change course (and give interviews saying it definitely wouldn’t do that), Anna sorted out her accommodation and the choice was locked in. “I’ve come to terms with it and I’m really excited,” she told The Tab. “But I do feel a bit bitter about it because I really did have my heart set on Liverpool.”

While Anna’s glad one particular grade – a D she felt she didn’t deserve – won’t follow her round, she says: “I can’t help but feel like all of the crying and hassle I had to go through was for nothing.”

Meg had a place at Liverpool’s medical school, with Birmingham as a backup. However, when her A*BC predicted grades were bumped down to A*CD, she missed out on both places. Until “five minutes ago” she was without a place – Nottingham offered her a place through clearing shortly after the U-turn was announced.

“The tears in my household for the last week have honestly been appalling,” Meg told The Tab.

“The U-turn’s good because I just got a place at Nottingham, but it still meant I’ve missed out on my top uni because they don’t have available places.”

Cat missed her offer for International Relations at Edinburgh when her AAB was downgraded to BBB. Instead, she got into Lancaster. Her teacher-predicted grades wouldn’t have quite been enough to meet her AAA offer, but she feels the algorithm denied her the chance to even find out.

“I know I would have missed my Edi offer anyway,” she told The Tab. “But only by one grade. I’ve heard stories of people getting in when they miss one grades, and especially as I’ve had an A in EPQ, I would have expected they may have let me in.”

Now, the course at Edinburgh is full – on results day she was told her only option to get onto it was to defer a year. “I don’t wanna waste a year, especially in a pandemic, so I’d rather stick with Lancaster and move on with my education rather than wait a year if I get an offer,” she said.

“I’m happy with the place I got through clearing but I’m lucky that I do have somewhere to go.”

However, for some it has been a chance to get the grades they felt they deserved. Przemek was downgraded from AAA to BBB, but still got into his Law LLB course at City. Instead of the appeal he was planning, he’ll now be able to take his original grades.

“I’m happy that the gov made this u-turn. This means that I will now get higher grades, the grades I deserve. Nevertheless, I still think that the Education Sec should resign,” he told The Tab.

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It’s official: A-level students will get their teacher-predicted grades after all