Harder than ever to get to university
Wednesday 09 June 1999
In some cases universities are asking applicants for three As and Bs where they would have asked for just two Cs 30 years ago. The increase in grades required for some subjects almost doubles the number of points required on the A-level scoring system devised by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.
Physics students were asked for an average of just two Cs at A-level in 1970; today universities want anything from CCC to BBB. Applicants for medicine were asked to get an average three Cs in 1970, compared with today when offers range from ABB to straight As.
The remarkable rise in university entrance requirements is outlined by the author Brian Heap. His latest book, a 620-page guide to offers for entry to university in 2000, was published yesterday.
Applicants asked for interviews are also subjected to intense questioning, according to the book, Degree Course Offers 2000. One student hoping to read history was asked to outline the similarities between Cromwell and Mussolini.
Vice-chancellors and teachers said the figures were proof that the standard of A-level candidates was as high as ever. In 1970, the A-level pass rate was 68.6 per cent, compared with 88.2 per cent last year.
Educationists believe the annual rise in A-level pass rates over recent years is due to the huge expansion of higher education and increasing competition for popular courses at well-known universities. In 1968, 110,000 students applied to university, with about 54,000 gaining a place. Last year applications to university - now including the former polytechnics - totalled 446,000 and nearly 330,000 gained a place.
Professor Martin Harris is vice-chancellor of Manchester University and chairs the Com-mittee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals. He said: "This proves just how hard students have to work to get into popular courses at popular institutions, although of course A-level grades are not the only indicator that people are suitable to follow a university degree. Students who achieve these A-level grades are at least as good as their predecessors 30 years ago, maybe better."
Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Liverpool University, said: "It does give the lie to the fact that doing A-levels is getting easier. Actually it's getting tougher."
t Thousands of candidates sitting GCSE and A-level examinations this month will be able to see their marked papers for the first time.
Ministers believe the experiment will reduce the number of pupils appealing against the grades they are awarded in the exams by confronting them with their mistakes. The Government also wants to make marking procedures more open.
The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority has prepared pilot schemes for England, Wales and Northern Ireland. GCSE candidates in 200 schools and colleges will be entitled to inspect their exam scripts. For some, all the papers will be returned to their school; others will be able to look at them in exam board offices.
A-level candidates in 1,000 schools and colleges will also be able to collect photocopies of marked scripts in 10 subjects.
Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
New era of cheap oil 'will destroy green revolution'
Ukip founder Alan Sked and Nigel Farage 'begged Enoch Powell to stand as a candidate'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...
£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...
£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...
£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...