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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 6 November, 2002, 16:47 GMT
Only 16 students switch courses
Tony Higgins
Tony Higgins says students were worried needlessly
The head of the university admissions service has said the A-level grading fiasco was a storm in a teacup - with, in the end, only 16 students changing their university courses.

A further eight students who had no places at all have now obtained a place to start in 2003.


We were extremely disappointed that many people sought to fuel the situation with exaggerated forecasts ...

Tony Higgins, Ucas

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas) said it had been notified that three students moved from one place to another and one switched course at the same institution for the start of this academic year.

Another 12 would start at a new institution in the autumn of 2003, it said.

So a total of 14 institutions gained new students, while 11 lost students.

'Exaggerated forecasts'

The service's chief executive, Tony Higgins, said its main concern during recent weeks had been for the students who found themselves involved in the A-level controversy and who might have been "worrying needlessly".

"We were extremely disappointed that many people sought to fuel the situation with exaggerated forecasts about the size and scale of the outcome of the re-grading exercise," he said.

"Words like 'storm' and 'teacup' come to mind."

In the re-grading exercise set up by the Tomlinson inquiry, the grades of almost 100,000 students were re-examined.

Offered places

The exam board OCR - which was at the centre of the controversy - announced it was reviewing exam modules taken by 91,000 students.

But in the end a total of 1,220 students saw their final A-level grades raised, all of them with the OCR exam board.

It is now clear that eight had then met the requirements of an offer of a university place when they thought they had not.

Universities had warned that for a host of practical reasons it was unlikely that anyone would be able to switch courses straight away.

Standards

The second part of Mike Tomlinson's inquiry is into A-level standards. It was due this month but he has now announced it will be published on 3 December.

In a joint submission to him, universities and Ucas said: "Decisions to retain the name 'A-level' but change the structure have affected the understanding of what constitutes an A-level, including both format and standard."

But the former chairman of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), Sir William Stubbs, told a committee of MPs on Wednesday that universities had not raised concerns about the standard of A-levels.

The notable exception had been the notoriously difficult maths AS-level in 2001, which many failed. That exam is under review.

Sir William has argued all along that there was no A-level "crisis" except a crisis of confidence brought about because ministers had panicked.

But he said he disliked the phrase "storm in a teacup" because for each young person involved it affected their whole life.

The alleged A-level grades manipulation

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TOMLINSON INQUIRY

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See also:

01 Nov 02 | Education
06 Nov 02 | Education
28 Oct 02 | Education
21 Oct 02 | Education
31 Oct 02 | Education
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