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A Level: Standards

Volume 459: debated on Wednesday 2 May 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many students entering English universities for the first time in 2006 did not have two grade E A levels or better A level qualifications. (133226)

In 2005/06, there were 2,620 entrants (2 per cent.) with one or more A levels who had fewer than 80 tariff points from these qualifications. The figures relate to 18-year-old English domiciled entrants to full time first degree courses at English higher education institutions who have obtained one or more A levels. A grade E at A level is worth 40 tariff points.

Tariff points are not to be the only factor universities consider in assessing potential to succeed in HE. In 2004, Professor Steven Schwartz conducted an independent review of admissions to HE. The report makes clear that while prior educational attainment data (e.g. ‘A’ levels) remain the best indicator of success at undergraduate level, equal exams results may not represent equal potential to succeed in HE, and that universities can usefully consider other factors. The Schwartz Group recommended an ‘holistic assessment’ of applicants which included consideration of contextual factors, given the variation of learners’ opportunities and circumstances.