Some UCAS graphs

This week, I was fortunate enough to attend a presentation by Mary Curnock Cook, the Chief Executive of UCAS.

Some of the slides she went through were striking and I think are worth sharing as they may well help frame your advice & guidance to Key Stage 4 or 5 students.

All slides are the work of Mary & UCAS and are reposted here to help spread the message.

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Your leavers until 2020ish are going to be part of a falling population of 18 year olds before the big population bump comes through. This means they will be entering a HE marketplace primed for greater numbers and so very, very keen for their applications and acceptance of offers. This will put those with good grades into a strong position of consumer power.

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Similarly, as the warnings about grade inflation have fed through the system the number of ABB+ achieved at A Level has been falling. With the new A Levels and the AS/A Level decoupling, don’t expect this to reverse anytime soon. Those who do achieve ABB+ will be rarer and so hold even more power in their choices.

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Mirroring this, predictions don’t seem to be recognising the new landscape. Those students of yours who think, just because they’re being predicted ABB+ that it’s in the bag; it’s not.

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Overall though, A Level acceptances have remained steady over recent years while the growth has come from students holding BTEC or combined A Level and BTEC qualifications. If you have BTEC students nervous about how HE will view them, reassure them that they are the growth area.

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But that comes with the usual caveats, BTEC and A Level & BTEC combined students are much more likely to progress onto HE institutions with lower tariff requirements. As with a lot of career decisions, this is perfectly acceptable as long as the student is aware of and happy with the future doors they might be closing.

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Similarly, BTEC students are more likely to progress onto a narrower band of HE subjects than A Level students who spread out into a broader range of disciplines. Again, perfectly fine if the student is clear and confident in their aims.

Social Mobility

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A levels are getting better but aren’t great at getting students from poor backgrounds to access HE (prior attainment will play a large role there).

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Whereas BTECs are much better at providing an egalitarian access route to HE.

It’s interesting to combine that information with this data from a recent Yougov/Ofqual survey

that might hint that young people are being a tad sniffy about the “easier route the poor kids take to get to Uni.” You would imagine this should change as the growth in numbers taking BTEC and the curriculum reforms come into play over the next few years.

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