The chair of the Office for Students, which regulates higher education providers in England, told universities to “honour the offers they have made to students” as he conceded “many students will receive or exceed the grades they had expected”.
Addressing universities via a column in The Telegraph, Conservative peer James Wharton wrote: “If a student has kept up their end of the bargain and earned the grades they need to start their course this year, they should be certain there is a place waiting for them.”
Lord Wharton, appointed chair of the OfS this year, wrote ahead of A-level results day tomorrow (Tuesday 10 August).
Numbers of top A-level grades are reportedly expected to increase. The government and Ofqual this year opted to abandon any thought of a moderation algorithm to adjust centre-assessed grades – but still used “quality assurance” processes, with the marks of one in five schools checked by exam boards.
Some universities have reportedly offered students incentives to defer studies, such as Exeter, which allegedly told medical students they could claim £10,000 for postponing their studies.
“We have seen isolated examples of universities offering students incentives to defer their studies until next year,” Lord Wharton wrote. “This is legitimate – as long as students are presented with a genuine choice, given full information about their options and treated fairly. But any type of practice where students are misled or unfairly pressurised into a decision which is not in their best interests is simply unacceptable.”
“Many students will receive or exceed the grades they had expected,” Wharton continued, noting that there are “options open” to those that do not get the grades they need.
Wharton also said students should expect “a high-quality course, properly resourced and taught well”. He said these considerations should weigh on the minds of admissions officers to ensure universities avoid over-recruiting.