A-levels are not the only route into HE, nor should they be. Students access HE through a wide variety of progression routes, including Access courses, and other vocational and non-vocational qualifications. Higher education institutions also take account of other factors, for example previous experience and personal qualities, when considering the best candidates for the course in question. Ability to successfully complete a course remains an essential criterion for selecting candidates.
In 2005/06, there were 188,735 English domiciled entrants to full time first degree courses at UK higher education institutions, who had ‘A’ level or equivalent qualifications on entry. Of these, 2,400 (1.3 per cent.) had a tariff score of less than 80 (two E grades at ‘A’ level give a tariff score of 80). Figures for 2006/07 will be available in January 2008.