Thousands of students were finding out today if they had made the grade in this year’s crop of A-Level results.
School and colleges across Birmingham and the Black Country have posted record-breaking results, including King Edward VI High School for Girls in Edgbaston, where 28 per cent of all results saw students obtaining the new grade A*.
At Bromsgrove School, 62 per of the 701 examinations were graded A* and A, with 86 per cent of all papers in the A*-B bracket.
In Sandwell, Wood Green High School College of Sport in Wednesbury, 85 students sat 250 exams achieving a 99 per cent pass rate, and Heathfield Foundation Technical College in Cradley Heath saw students achieve a 99.1 per cent pass rate.
Sandwell education chief Coun Bob Badham he was “delighted” with the his borough’s latest crop of A-Level results.
He said: “It is extremely pleasing to see that our schools are continuing with their improvements year on year.”
But while pupils across the region were expected to post record results, experts warned students are under more pressure than ever in the fight for university places.
Andrew Jedras, principal of Abbey College in the Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, warned that relying on A grades alone may not necessarily be enough for future students to win a place at university.
He said: “This year will be disastrous for many students with a huge increase in the number of teenagers with top grades failing to win places.
“With demand outstripping supply, universities have raised their admission requirements.”
Figures from university admissions service Ucas revealed that some 47,600 students accepted places through clearing in 2009, but it has been estimated that as many as 170,000 would-be students could be left disappointed.
Mr Jedras added that the independent college, which caters for GCSE and A Level students aged 14-19 years, has seen a rise in the number of students opting for more traditional A Level subjects as university places were slashed.
He said: “Next year we will see more students taking up the traditional subjects like mathematics, the sciences and English.
“Choosing A Level subjects has become less about picking a subject because of personal preference and more about going beyond those preferences and looking at what subjects will be of use as we come out of recession.”
Among the 80-strong group of students nervously awaiting their results was Faaria Hussain from Yardley, who missed out on her conditional place to study Geography at King’s College London last year.
The 19-year-old didn’t get the grades to take up the offer, but chose to go back to college to improve her maths grade rather than go through clearing.
“I had my heart set on studying there so I didn’t want to go anywhere else for the sake of it so as long as I get an A in maths then I’ll be starting there this year,” she said.
“There does seem to be a lot more competition this year as I think some people see going to university as an alternative to working while the economy is still bad.”
Fellow student Ed Ryan, who is hoping to study economics at the University of Manchester, said the lack of clearing places this year was a “worry” for some.
He said: “We have a teacher here who is assigned to helping us with our Ucas applications so I found that part of it quite straight forward, but the lack of places through clearing does put added pressure on you to get what you need to take up your conditional offer.”