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University offers no places through clearing
by Lucy Jackson, 6/09/21

Contrary to previous years, the University of Edinburgh has made the decision not to offer any places through clearing for the 2021/22 academic year. 

This system typically offers students another opportunity to attend university, after they have not met the requirements for their firm or insurance choices. 

A spokesperson for the University of Edinburgh has explained that this is due to there being an increase in the number of students who have accepted the university as their first-choice university, thus limiting the number of places available to applicants through clearing. 

This trend is not unique to the University of Edinburgh; the number of UK students accepted into universities across the UK through clearing this year has fallen to 11,000, 13 per cent less than the year prior.

Arguably, the main reason for an increase in the number of offers being accepted – and thus a decrease in the number of places available for clearing – is because of an inflation in higher and A-Level results for this year. The pandemic has led to a change in the marking process of assessments as in-person exams have been scrapped, and school teachers have instead decided grades. 

However, the new grading process tends to benefit students who come from schools with a history of achieving higher grades – particularly private schools, where smaller class sizes mean that teachers are able to focus more on individual students. 

This means that students coming from state schools – where exam results may not be as consistently high in comparison to private schools – may be more likely to receive lower grades. This is because a school’s record of grade achievements are taken into account by moderators when assessing the grade given by teachers, to assure fair marking.

It is clear that this change in the process of awarding grades has led to grade inflation. This year, almost half (44.8 per cent) of UK entries were awarded an A or A* grade. This has increased by 6.3 per cent since last year, when 38.5 per cent of entries achieved an A or A* grade.

For context, in 2019 – the year before the start of the pandemic – only 25.5 per cent of grades awarded were A or A*.

Thus, an increase in higher grades has led to an increase in the number of first-choice offers being accepted. 

The University of Edinburgh’s decision to opt out of the clearing process has meant that many hopeful prospective students have missed out on the opportunity to study in Edinburgh. This decision could mean that some people are left unable to attend university at all. 

Image: Ronny Skroblin