Oxford University offers 300 places to students who “failed to make the grade” in A level chaos

The University of Oxford has given places to more than 300 students who missed their grades through a marking algorithm.

The university looked at the individual circumstances of all applicants before accepting them.

A spokesman said the number was “far more than in previous years”.

He added: “The overwhelming majority of these are UK state school candidates from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“As a result, our UK state school intake this year currently stands at 67.8% – an increase of 5.7% compared to 2019.”

The decision follows three colleges – Worcester, Wadham, and St Edmund Hall – saying all offered places to UK students would be secured irrespective of exam results.

This year’s A level exams were cancelled as the coronavirus epidemic gripped the nation.

A complex algorithm was introduced to estimate results.

However, 39.1% of teachers’ estimates for A-level pupils in England were adjusted down by one grade or more.

It left many students missing out on their university places.

Invariably, both Oxford and Cambridge require straight As to secure an offer.

Wadham College warden Ken Macdonald said:

“This year’s formal gradings are not adding to our knowledge of applicants’ ability to the extent that we could safely conclude that some of those previously selected for offers should now be denied their places.”

And, a statement St Edmund Hall said:

“To alleviate the anxiety and uncertainty surrounding the appeals process, and uphold our strong strategic commitment to access, equality and diversity in our admissions process, the college has taken the decision to make offers unconditional for all applicants whose places were not originally confirmed.”

Last week more than 3,000 Oxford University graduates called for “kindness and generosity” to students whose grades had been “unexpectedly and unfairly downgraded by an algorithm”.

In an open letter, they said:

“It cannot be right that bright, hard-working young people from poorer backgrounds have been denied their chance to overcome odds that were already stacked against them.”



About the Author

Philip Braund spent 16 years at the Daily Mirror as a reporter and news editor before moving to ITV. He was the series producer of the ground-breaking investigation programme The Cook Report, Managing Editor at ITV's Millbank Studios, and Head of News at ITV Central. He has won national and regional Royal Television Society awards for documentaries.

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