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Results Day 2023: Colleges respond

17th August 2023

As students across the country receive their exam results, the Association of Colleges, the national voice for England's futher education colleges have released the below statement.

David Hughes, Chief Executive, Association of Colleges said:

“We should all be proud of the students who are finding out their results today – these are young people who have had to cope with enormous disruptions to their education and training during the pandemic and the uncertainties and challenges that presented to them. To see them achieve, having worked so hard is inspiring to see.

As in any normal year there will be students disappointed as well as those delighted with their results. Our advice is always to focus on qualifications and grades as a passport to the next stage of study, training or employment rather than obsess about the grades themselves. Universities and colleges will be ensuring that every applicant is treated fairly and places on courses and jobs are available for as many as possible as is the case every year.

We must also celebrate everybody who has studied and trained – not just those who took A levels. There are more than 320,000 students who have taken technical and vocational qualifications - including a small number taking the new T levels – these are tomorrow’s engineers, mechanics, healthcare workers, and all of those who help drive the country forward. We want them to feel special today and to celebrate their achievements equally and alongside those A Level student who are traditionally applauded on results day.

Colleges across the country have played a major part in the successes today, alongside school sixth forms and staff and leaders of those institutions should be proud of their part in helping young people make the transition to adulthood through their learning. Around half of all 16-18 year olds in publicly funded education study in colleges across a range of qualifications including vocational and technical qualifications, applied general qualifications and A Levels.

Colleges cater for all types of learning, training, skills and also play a significant part in helping young people from disadvantaged backgrounds make progress – with many students going on to achieve phenomenal successes, despite the pressures they face from the cost of living crisis or previous struggles in education and training.”

Context and statistics

There are over 1.2 million 16-18 year olds studying in publicly funded education. Of those, around half (c. 49%) are studying in colleges, 43% in schools and 8% in work-based learning. There are more publicly funded 16–18-year-olds in colleges than in schools.

Qualification levels:

2% (c. 26,500) are studying at Level 1.
14% (c. 162,000) are studying at Level 2.
73% (c. 870,000) are studying at Level 3.
11% on other types of courses.

Level 3:

Nearly three quarters (73%) of publicly funded 16-18 year olds (c. 870,000 students) are studying at Level 3. Over half a million of these Level 3 students are studying for A Levels, including over 140,000 also taking some Applied General qualifications in mixed programmes.

Over 320,000 level 3 students are studying Level 3 vocational and technical qualifications as their main programme, including T Levels and Applied Generals, such as BTECs and Cambridge Technical.

Colleges have:

90% of T Level students.
80% of Level 3 vocational and technical students.
44% of all Level 3 students.
23% of A Level students.