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A-levels: Half of university hopefuls have no back-up plan

More than half of A-level students awaiting their exam results have no idea what they will do if they fail to get the grades they need for their chosen university course, a new survey has found.

A poll found that 54 per cent of would-be undergraduates had no back-up plan if they failed to get into either their first- or second-choice course.

Forty-eight per cent of the 1,000 students polled by university guide Which? University say they are confident they will get the grades they need for their first choice of university.

And while 82 per cent said they had a conditional offer for their first university and a second ‘insurance’ option, 40 per cent said that they do not want to go to their second choice. A quarter have a second choice university that requires the same or even higher grades.

Next week, more than 300,000 teenagers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will get their A-level results. Students in Scotland, taking their Highers, found out their grades yesterday.

Ofqual has already warned that changes to the resit system could mean "more variability" in the results this year.

Which? University spokesman Sonia Sodha said: "As A-level results day approaches, it's an understandably stressful and nerve-wracking time for prospective students, especially those who aren't confident they'll get into their first-choice university. Hopefully they won't need a back-up plan, but we advise they research all their options just in case."

It is not just failure that could require a change of destination – students who do better than expected in their exams can switch to a different university or course through a process known as "adjustment". The research found that a quarter of students surveyed were unaware of this.

Related Stories:

Ofqual chief warns of exam results rollercoaster - August 2014

Fall in A-level English entries blamed on 2012 GCSE ‘fiasco’ - July 2014

Is there no way up for results? - April 2013


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