A-level results: A different level of chaos

The fiasco of A-level results this week has, in the words of the Vice Chancellor, introduced “a different level of chaos, which we need to work out.”

On the one hand, the government U-turn to award students’ A-level results based on the assessments of their teachers, will, theoretically mean more students in the system to enter higher education this year, which has to be a good thing for Brighton. It’s also a good thing for those students who have been messed about emotionally by a disastrous system which was wrong on so many levels, not least of which was the clearly discriminatory assumptions favouring those from affluent backgrounds at fee-paying schools.

However, the relaxation of the cap which restricted all universities to only be able to recruit home students up to a 5% increase on their projections, will mean that some will keep taking students until they have successfully offset international recruitment shortfalls, and possibly further. We’re back to the scenario of universities like Bristol expanding even more at the expense of other less prestigious institutions.

I think most people would accept that the 5% cap on home recruitment was irrelevant to Brighton. What’s important though is the shift of students from Brighton to other places because that’s now possible, and I would guess that at this stage, there are more potential students drifting off elsewhere than calling up to see if they can get onto a course here. Some will just not turn up in October.

I hope I’m wrong about all this, but the signs are that the way in which this pandemic and the government response to it has played out so far, is that some universities will be fine and others will be significantly short of students and funding.

This is, of course, all down to the idiocy of the ideologically-driven plan to make the money follow the student. The marketisation of higher education is the root cause of all this turmoil and people who think that the market call solve the world’s problems are deluded by their own experience, which is that it normally works out ok for them.

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