Up and down the country today, students have received their A-level results and will by now know if they got into their university of choice. Statistics released by UCAS suggest that a record number of students have been accepted, including 20.7% of all UK 18 year olds from the most disadvantaged backgrounds. However, the gap between them and their more privileged counterparts has not reduced, with 48.4% of those from the most advantaged areas having their places confirmed. This represents a widening of the gap before clearing is taken into account.

TASO’s Deputy Director of Research, Jess Hunt, responds with the following statement:

The news that record numbers of students from disadvantaged backgrounds have been accepted into universities today is positive, particularly given increased competition for places. However, the underlying statistics shows there is still some way to go to bridge the gap between disadvantaged students and their more advantaged peers. The early data indicates that applicants from more affluent backgrounds are significantly more likely to get places pre-clearing.

More needs to be done to level the playing field so that students from all backgrounds are proportionately able to access university. TASO will share the findings from our first wave of impact evaluations on widening participation outreach activities next year. We hope our work will help others learn what works and scale up the most effective practices.

We will also continue to interrogate how changes to assessment and teaching under COVID are impacting young people from disadvantaged backgrounds – and will share findings from our early work in the Autumn.”