In 2022, prospective students saw the return of exam-based results after two years of relying on teacher-based results as a result of the pandemic. While this cohort dealt with significant disruption to their education, they also had the benefit of experience in formal examinations, having taken their GCSE exams a few years earlier.
Prospective students who received their results this summer have an unfortunate distinction: as a result of the pandemic, they are a cohort who had limited opportunities to experience any formal exams. It is feasible that for many, their first experience of a formal exam in one of their chosen subjects was also their final exam in that subject. This piles additional pressure on what is already a stressful period in the lives of young adults.
In 2023, 27.2% of all A Level candidates were awarded A or A* – a drop from 36.4% in 2022 and 44.8% in 2021, but higher than 25.4% in 2019.
The dip in grade achievement led to increased demand for Clearing: early data from UCAS suggests that by the day after results day, 10,400 school leavers had been through Clearing to secure a university place (compared to 6,600 placed at the same point last year), with fewer securing their first or second choice university.
During this busy period, it is crucial that university marketing communications effectively promote course vacancies and sell their brand to prospective students.
This report summarises how universities approached results day and Clearing when it comes to marketing and communications, within the context of a cohort still feeling the significant knock-on impact of the pandemic.
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