Very few students look forward to A level results day. For many, the anticipation of waiting to see if they have made the grade can feel much like their lives are hanging in the balance, as they contemplate having to settle for plan B or C should things not work out in their favour. Of course there is a wealth of advice available to those who come up short, but until the introduction of Adjustment, little thought was given to what could be done should a student exceed all expectations.
Adjustment was introduced by UCAS in 2009, when just 382 students took advantage of the process. Since then, it has seen a sharp increase, as government legislation changes have allowed universities to accept unlimited amounts of students with grades AAB and higher at A level or the equivalent.
Students are eligible and can register for Adjustment if they have achieved grades that are better than expected, exceeding the terms of their firm offer. Adjustment opens on results day and closes at the end of August, but students have just five days after their firm offer becomes unconditional to secure a place at an alternative university. After the five days, students are no longer eligible for Adjustment, even if it is still open.
It may be seen as the perfect opportunity to ‘shop around’, but the fact remains that not all universities accept applicants through Adjustment. Cambridge, Oxford and LSE, which were the top 3 universities in 2013, were not open to applicants via Adjustment. Could this suggest that being at the top of the league table means the places practically fill themselves? With students having more choice and new legislation forcing universities to be more flexible, the application process becomes less about the education of young people and more about business. The shift in power that has resulted in universities having to work harder to attract students and their money has also highlighted the institutions who are prestigious enough to not need to go ‘cap in hand’ to applicants in order to fill places.