Commenting on A-level results day today, Sir Peter Lampl, Founder and Chairman of the Sutton Trust and Chairman of the Education Endowment Foundation, said:

“Today’s results are a pivotal moment in young people’s lives: their grades are passports to their next steps into university, an apprenticeship or joining the workforce. Students should be proud of their achievements, sitting their first ever formal exams in the face of ongoing disruption.

“It’s great to see that many disadvantaged youngsters are gaining a place at university, and that there is a slight narrowing of the gap between the most and least advantaged. Universities have rightly prioritised widening participation in spite of an extremely competitive year. However, the gap is still wider than it was pre-pandemic, highlighting that there is more work to be done.

“Today’s data also shows that there are regional disparities in attainment. The government must work to ensure that students from all backgrounds, in all areas of the country, have the opportunity to succeed.”

NOTES TO EDITORS

Sutton Trust analysis of today’s data:

Grades

  • OVERALL: The proportion of A Level grades at A and A* has gone down from 44.8% last year to 36.4% this year across England, Wales and NI. This is still above the 25.4% of 2019, and in line with the ‘glide path’ set by Ofqual in advance of this year’s exams.
  • SCHOOL TYPE: 58% of grades at independent schools were A or above, compared to 35% at academy schools and 32% at Sixth Form Colleges. The gap between independent schools and state schools and colleges has reduced since last year but remains higher than 2019.
  • GEOGRAPHY: Regional gaps are growing. Compared to 2019, London has still seen the biggest gains in grades at A or above, 12 percentage points higher, at 39%. In the North East, the figure was 30.8%, up less than 8 percentage points.

University access

  • OVERALL: 245,100 18-year-olds have been accepted to university across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, an increase on both the last few years and on numbers pre-pandemic. The entry rate for this group is 32.2%, lower than last year’s rate (34.1%), but higher than 2020 (30.1%) and pre pandemic in 2019 (28.1%).
  • UNDER-REPRESENTED AREAS: The 18-year-old entry rate for Q5 applicants (those from areas with historically high participation in HE) has fallen more this year than for those from Q1 (historic low participation areas), closing the gap between them. This is the biggest narrowing of the gap over the last decade. However, the gap is still larger than it was pre-pandemic (the gap in 2022 is 25.6 percentage points, compared to 23pp in 2019).
  • SELECTIVE UNIVERSITIES: After several years of expansion, acceptances at higher tariff universities are down this year, with a rise in the numbers at lower and medium tariff universities. However the share of overall acceptances going to higher tariff institutions remains higher than 2019, at 36% compared to 33%.

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