Chemistry, Life Science & Engineering Recruitment

It’s that time of year again, where you find yourself hopelessly counting down the days to the one which is going to decide your future…as dramatic as that sounds, promise me you’ll stay calm and prepare for this day to come?

The night before results day try and have an early night and get a good night’s sleep - it’s a big day ahead!

Universities in 2021

Last year, the UK government made a U-turn on grades due to the controversial algorithm that spiraled students into despair. Due to this, it’s been said some universities are making fewer offers this year. Experts are saying that universities will stick rigidly to offer grades and conditions to ensure resources, accommodation halls and laboratories are not overwhelmed. However, this means it will be harder for universities to take on students who missed out on their predicted grades.

Popular course subjects, such as Biomedical Science, have seen applications “go through the roof”, meaning there will be fewer clearing places this year than usual for studying. Making it of the upmost importance that you can confidently say you tried your best during college, and you should feel proud of yourself, whatever grades you receive.

Russell groups running out of room?

Why is going to university promoted and advertised so much if they do not have capacity to accept everyone who wants to join?

With Britain’s population continuously rising, there will be a 25% increase in the number of 18-year old’s by 2030, consequently an increase in the number of students wanting to go to university each year too.

It has been around 20 years since the Labour Party announced a target of wanting 50% of young people to go to university, but now they are asking are TOO many people going?

Thinking about 2022

If you are disappointed with your grades on Tuesday, it doesn’t automatically mean you need to take a year out. Next year will be equally, if not more, competitive to this year’s entries as the trend in rising grades is likely to continue.

UCAS are suggesting to only take a gap year if you are going to make use of that time and be productive, otherwise it will be a whole year without learning new skills and university interviewers will question this decision.

Your five choices

As much as you may have your heart set on one specific university, it is always important to think tactically when choosing your top five. Give yourself a top 2 or 3 of the preferred universities you’ve found and loved! An added tactical approach would be to pick a university that you still like but has a lower grade boundary or isn’t a Russell’s group university, so you are prepared in case of a grade mishap on results day. It is also important to give yourself a fallback course option, so pick a course that is similar but slightly different to your preferred, in case of course popularity competition too.

If you are at all worried about your grades not meeting criteria on results day, it may be worth spending an evening this week creating a new top five by researching universities in an area/city that you like and courses that you find interesting as a just in case. If you are not keen and are still hoping for your first choices, then think of this idea as a back-up, or you may grow to like some of the newly searched universities which you could contact on results day, providing you meet their criteria. Remember, clearing is not a negative thing, if you exceed your predicted grades, you have every right to apply through clearing to a university with higher grade conditions!

Getting ready for results day

During my research, I came across an article suggesting many face-to-face interviews and many university outreach works were cancelled due to covid. I too didn’t sit my actual A-Level exams in 2020 due to the first heavy lockdown, however, many interviews were before covid hit, where mine secured my place at my top university. I narrowly missed out on the grade requirements of the Russell group University of Manchester for BSc Chemistry (I had a B grade rather than an A in A-Level Mathematics), however, they offered me a 6-week Induction Programme to complete and a face-to-face interview. On interview day, due to the detail in my answers showing a positive work ethic, I was offered a place! Not only did this programme secure me an offer, but it also helped me learn more advanced Chemistry topics and give me an introduction to degree level work. Opportunities similar to this don’t seem as common this year, but it is worth keeping an eye out!

The ‘Big Day’!

It is always a good idea to arrive as soon as your college opens, do not leave yourself in anticipation as it will only make you more nervous!

Once you have received your A-Level grades, speak to each of your subject teachers to ask for grade feedback, ask why they chose to give you your grades, and talk to your tutor about what to do next.

Check UCAS to see if you have been accepted. If it’s a yes, then congratulations! You’re going to university! If it’s a no, do not panic…Let the clearing commence!

If you narrowly missed out on the criteria grades for your chosen university, speak to senior/influential staff members to have them ring your chosen universities, it may sound cheeky, but anything is worth a try, and it shows your dedication (I spent from 10am to 4:30pm with my Deputy Principal who was trying to help me with my clearing on results day). Always remember, your teachers and staff will not want to let you go home not knowing what to do; it is worth asking anyone you can for help or advice!


All clearing helplines are on each university’s website and are available from results day for you to access.

Firstly, ring each of your original top five universities as UCAS only tells you the outcomes of your first and insurance choice. You can speak to the ones you declined from your top two and see what each university has to offer you. If you are having no luck here, you can try calling the ‘new top five’ we discussed earlier. Try ringing these universities, you are bound to find somewhere that will accept you eventually!

If you decide you are still unsure, don’t forget Apprenticeships are an option too! Perhaps look on some university pages for these as they often advertise roles that would link to certain degrees!

My results day story

One word I’d use to describe my results day is “rollercoaster”. The last internal mock exam I sat was a Wednesday in early March and by Wednesday afternoon we received the email saying don’t return to college on Thursday due to lockdown. As soon as it was Easter, online teaching stopped, and I was in the dark about how our grades were going to be assessed…and we had to wait until August for results day too!

I took BTEC Applied Science which also ended in April, however, there was an error with releasing these grades on results day meaning we didn’t have them, so some universities were holding off on accepting students. Unfortunately, even though I was given a D* (equivalent to an A* now), it didn’t help my case because of Boris’ algorithm… As I mentioned previously, I was a B grade student in A-Level Mathematics, but as it factored in my college’s location in Yorkshire, we were all marked down and the Algorithm gave me a grade D. This meant all my university options declined me. Luckily by the evening, due to the national outcry and the fact students who were achieving A*s were given E and U grades due to the Algorithm, the U-turn occurred and our results changed to our teacher’s predicted grades.

I was in a bit of a fluster when I got home from college that day, I tried to stay positive and calm, and with my new A-Level grades from the U-turn, I wrote down my chosen universities’ clearing helplines and by the next day I secured a place at Manchester Metropolitan University doing BSc Chemistry!

You must remember that this is only one day from your life, it will all be sorted, and you have an amazing future ahead of you! I’ve loved every minute of my university experience so far, and I am now a strong believer everything happens for a reason.

Lucia Scott

BSc Chemistry Student

VRS Recruitment Intern


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