University bosses defend taking in students on low grades

By Richard Guttridge | Telford | Education | Published:

Bosses at the University of Wolverhampton have defended their policy of taking in students with low grades, saying it can be the chance they need to transform their lives.

University of Wolverhampton

New figures revealed the city’s university - which also teaches students at facilities in Telford - accepted more students with fewer than three E grades than any other in the country.

It has led to claims universities are bringing in as many students as possible just to make money.

But Geoff Layer, vice-chancellor at the University of Wolverhampton, said results proved students were making the most of the opportunity. Figures showed the university took in 150 students with fewer than three Es – eight per cent of of the total intake, excluding older and foreign students.

Mr Layer said: “The important thing to recognise is they have passed their exams. These students have been successful in passing their A-levels, they have then secured a place at university and the vast majority go on to do very well. Some people do better in exams.

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“We are the university of opportunity. It is about giving them a chance. A lot of these students go on to four-year courses to enable them to succeed and 96 per cent go into jobs within six months. It transforms lives.”

He added: “There is no fixed level for going to university. People do amazing things from this university.”


University of Bedfordshire, Leeds Beckett and Kingston were next on the list for the biggest number of students with low grades.

The Campaign for Real Education said the university admissions process “has become a money-making racket” and that its “main aim is to pull in as many student punters as possible, regardless of grades, because they bring with them £9,250 a year for the university”.

A university spokeswoman said it “plays a direct role in economic regeneration and improving the skills and life chances of the communities we serve”.

She added: ‘Our students consistently demonstrate the desire and will to succeed against the odds, often being the first person in their families to go to university.’


The figures came from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) and showed a total of 2,790 teenagers with this level of achievement were admitted to universities in 2017.

Separate figures showed 7,505 18-year-olds got places with three Ds or less last year. This is believed to be a record high and is up 14 per cent on 6,605 in 2016.

Statistics from the exam board AQA show students could scrape a D in their A-level exams by scoring as little as 25 per cent in some papers.

Some of the universities taking those with low grades said they did so because they catered for disadvantaged communities and admit students with lower attainment on to ‘foundation years’ to catch up.

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Investigations Editor - @RichG_star

Investigations Editor for the Express & Star.


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