It was Mark Twain who once penetratingly observed that there were “Lies, damned lies and statistics.” As the dust settles on this year's A-level results, statistics loom large in the questions being asked about university places in the UK in 2017.
To start with, there is the perennial question of whether the exams are too tough or too easy. This one crops up annually, particularly because in recent years, the number of top grades has been falling in the UK. It is a matter of some pride to us at KYUEM that ours have consistently been rising, year on year. The situation in 2017 is not so clear cut. Yes, our grades are up again, but then so are those in the UK. What is new this year, is the fact that UK university applications are down, something I mentioned in last week's post.
Today's Daily Telegraph in the UK presents a clear picture of what is going on. It's worth taking a look at, and you can read it here. Many young people who haven't achieved their desired grades are getting offers much sooner than they expected; the clearing process, generally, is working overtime to place them. Overall, I think this is good for us in Malaysia. People who might not have gained a place in a Russell Group University in the past, now stand a very good chance of getting there this year. My one worry is that if standards of entry are allowed to fall, then what effect will this have on the standards of exit? The article suggests that universities are more concerned with keeping their numbers up rather than maintaining excellence. The crude term for this is caring more about "bums on seats" than the actual quality of applicant.
This is probably not a real cause for concern - yet. Nonetheless, any drop in entry standards may well lead, longer term, to the reputation of the university going down. I am fond of saying that when it comes to international university league tables, Britain punches well above its weight. However, this assumes that standards will continue to increase, or at least be maintained. Lowering of entry requirements doesn't necessarily lead to a fall in the standing of degree programmes, but this could happen, and we need to be on our guard.
Last week, I showed you a summary of our A2 results for students who left us in June of this year. Today, I would like to conclude by showing you our AS results from the July 2016 intake (better than last year in yellow; worse in purple):
- 87% of students obtained a - b grades (66% in 2016) +
- 62% of students obtained three a grades (55% in 2016) +
- 46% of students obtained straight a grades (48% in 2016) -
These are almost as impressive as our A2 results, and augur well for May/June, 2018. I look forward to seeing our seniors make excellent progress through the year.