Further fall in science A-levels

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The Independent Online
THE PROPORTION of A-level candidates choosing science subjects is continuing to decline despite this year's record number of passes across the board, writes Diana Hinds.

The figures reveal a 9.6 per cent drop in those taking physics, following a fall of 4.9 per cent last year, and drops in chemistry (4.5) and biology (2.9). That decline is reflected in economics, down by 10 per cent. Mathematics also seems to have fallen, but final figures are not ready.

Overall, the proportion gaining A-E grades has improved by 1.1 percentage points, taking the pass rate to 80.9 per cent; the proportion with grades A-C has improved by 1.6 points, to 48.1 per cent.

The results confirm that there will be extreme pressure on university places in the arts and social sciences. John Akker, deputy general secretary of the Association of University Teachers, said: 'It is a matter of great concern that universities are unable to take all the students they would have taken last year.'

Lorna Fitzsimons, National Union of Students' president, said: 'Thousands of students are going to be very disappointed today, despite brilliant results.'

University and college candidates will find the Independent and Independent on Sunday an invaluable source of guidance and information. For the third year, these will be the only newspapers providing the official lists of higher education course vacancies available through the 'clearing' process. Listings will appear three times a week, starting next Wednesday.

They will be updated for Friday 27 August and Sunday 29 August, then updated again every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday until 23 September.

A university entrance series begins today with advice on entering clearing and taking up offers.

Results table, page 3

Leading article; Letters, page 31

Tough clearing season, page 16

Advertised courses, pages 16 - 25