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More Welsh A-level students accepted into first-choice unis than other UK nations

It is thought Welsh AS levels may have a part to play


Welsh A-level students were more likely to have been accepted into their first-choice universities than other UK nations in 2023, according to UCAS.

Data taken from UCAS illustrates the Welsh having performed higher across A-level qualifications than their counterparts in England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

79 per cent of UK students were accepted into their first-choice universities, a dip of two per cent from 2022, whilst 88 per cent in Wales alone got into their first choices.

According to Wales Online, nearly one in 10 A-level students from across the UK lost out on their first choice university, as grades dip following a return to pre-pandemic examination procedures in England.

In 2022, UK students were offered prior warning of targeted content to aid their revision. However, in 2023, exams resumed to normal testing conditions.

Unlike in England, Welsh exam bosses have taken a different approach in returning to pre-pandemic exam conditions. In Wales, students still take AS levels, which are sat the year before A-levels. These results then contribute to 40 per cent of students’ final A-level qualifications. Therefore, these assessments were taken in pandemic-focused exam conditions.

The government’s Education Hub Blog reported that AS levels in Wales were “sat when marking was more lenient last year. For example, in Wales 40 per cent of the marks from each A level are from 2022 when grading was higher.”

Clare Marchant, UCAS’s Chief Executive, said: “I am delighted to see more than 200,000 UK 18 year-olds have secured their first choice, which is testament to their hard work and commitment to progress to higher education in a year that has seen many complex factors at play, such as geopolitics, the economy and job market, and cost of living.

“However, today’s data shows that challenges in widening participation to the most disadvantaged students still persist. This demonstrates that we all need to continue the efforts to ensure the most disadvantaged individuals in society are able to benefit from life-changing opportunities in higher education and training, particularly as the 18 year-old population grows.

“Today, by opening their personalised UCAS email or logging onto their UCAS account to find out their decision, students will have clear, tailored options set out for them to make their next steps as easy as possible. For anyone who may not have got the results they were hoping for, or for those applicants who want to change their mind, there is plenty of choice in Clearing with nearly 29,000 courses and 8,000 apprenticeships currently available. We also have a team of advisers hard at work to provide students with expert information, advice and guidance on the phones, social media, and on ucas.com.”

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