A-level results U-turn will be a ‘major headache’ for uni admissions offices

A U-turn on the way A-level results are awarded will cause a “major headache” for university admissions departments, an education think tank boss has warned.

Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi), said a change of stance could leave some students having to wait another year to secure a place on their first-choice course.

His comments come as the Government is expected to announce it will allow for A-level results to be based on teachers’ predicted grades for their students, rather than an algorithm aimed at standardising results.

Mr Hillman said the move will create a “major problem” for universities, who will have only a few weeks to sort admissions before the new term starts.

He said: “It will be a major headache for university admissions offices.

“The university admissions round usually lasts for months.

“Universities try to look at candidates as individuals and to make careful and considered judgments, just as the Government has repeatedly urged them to do.

“So if you rip up the rules after the results are out and with only a few weeks to go until term starts, it is a major problem.”

He said while the change will “hopefully” lead to more people getting on to the right course for them, “no one should pretend it will be easy”.

“Some people may need to wait until next year for a space on the course they most want, which is very far from ideal,” Mr Hillman said.

In all, almost 40% of all A-level grades were downgraded after exams regulator Ofqual used an algorithm based on schools’ previous results.

Critics have complained the algorithm to make the adjustments had penalised pupils in schools in more disadvantaged areas, while benefiting those in private schools.

Meanwhile, former Ucas chief executive officer Mary Curnock Cook tweeted that returning to Centre Assessed Grades for A-levels is “likely to cause chaos” for university admissions, as “grade inflation” creates more students qualified for university.