BTec students could lose apprenticeship places to A-level graduates as they continue to wait for results – more than a week after they should have been published.
While A-level students received their results on Thursday – and won the fight on Monday to get them replaced by teacher assessments – many BTec students have been left without answers.
Level 1 and 2 courses, usually undertaken as an equivalent to GCSEs, were expected on Thursday, but were pulled on Wednesday by exam board Pearson ahead of a re-grading process to bring them in line with GCSEs. It has not yet been made clear when affected pupils will actually get their results.
Many Level 3 students, who should have received their results a week ago, are still waiting too. But while Level 1 and 2 students are often planning a move into further education, Level 3 students may have apprenticeships, jobs and university places hanging in the balance.
Apprenticeship positions do open up year-round, but as course-leavers get their results in late summer it is a popular time for applications to close ahead of an autumn start.
Jade Walker, 18, from Somerset, was hoping to move onto an apprenticeship scheme after finishing her Level 3 BTec IT course – but without her results she has already missed deadlines for some applications and is worried about falling behind on more as the cut-off dates rapidly approach.
She told HuffPost UK: “I was hoping to apply for apprenticeships in the next month, but obviously if I don’t have my results I can’t do that.
“It’s really quite different to university – you don’t have a place and there’s nothing just there waiting for you. It’s like a job application, so if you don’t apply in time you can’t do anything about it.
“Some of the deadlines were this week, and some have passed already so I’ve missed out on those. It’s so frustrating and I’m disappointed because I was really interested in some of them and now they’ve gone.”
A Pearson spokesperson has apologised for the “additional uncertainty” imposed on students, adding: “Our priority is to ensure fair outcomes for BTEC students and we will work around the clock to provide revised grades as soon as we can.”
They also said the regrading process was taking place to “address concerns about unfairness in relation to A-levels and GCSEs and ensure no BTec student is disadvantaged”.
The delay isn’t just impacting students applying for apprenticeships – job applications and university places have also been thrown into a precarious position.
Leo Carr, 19, from West Sussex, is waiting for his results following a two-year Level 3 course in creative digital media production. He’s desperate to start applying for jobs, but without his grades he doesn’t know what he’s eligible for.
“Without my grades I’m just left guessing. I don’t know what to apply for or really where to start,” he said.
“I don’t know anything really about my future prospects, or what sort of career I can build. I’m not sure how the grade adjustment will affect me either yet.
“No one from my course has had their grades yet, but we’ve heard of other people being severely under-graded. There was one person I heard of who had Merits all through the course, but when he got his grade he had failed and felt like he’d wasted two years of his life completely.
“I’ve put my heart and soul into this course for the past two years, and hearing stories like that has just been horrendous. I’m just sat here, when I was already supposed to have had my grades, not even knowing if I’ll have a future.”
The delay has impacted hopeful university students too. Without their grades they can’t confirm their places or get in via clearing, and all the while student accommodation and courses are filling up rapidly with a cohort of A-level students.
The delay has impacted hopeful students like Maria Oakley’s 20-year-old daughter, who studied BTec Level 3 drama after leaving her A-level courses as a result of mental health problems and is now hoping for a university place through clearing.
“There needs to be accountability for what has happened, and at the moment we haven’t seen any,” Oakley said.
“It’s so unfair that bright, ambitious students like my daughter have just been left in limbo as the universities fill up. It’s so hard and frustrating, and she is suffering terribly while we wait.
“BTecs are treated as the poor second cousin when compared to A-levels, but there are so many courses and incredible kids doing amazing things and now their lives are on hold.
“They’ve already been through six months of torture with Covid-19, and now this? My daughter is stuck, she can’t make plans, can’t even think about what university she wants to go to – until she sees her results she basically doesn’t have any options.”
Zak Pickett, 21, from Liverpool, is in a similar position. He spent two years studying for a Level 3 extended diploma in aviation operations and is hoping to go to university to study policing, but can’t confirm his offer until his results come through.
He said: “I’ve had very little communication from my college about the mess that is happening – one email in a week doesn’t cut it in my opinion.
“The email came in on Tuesday evening and said we’d expect the results by the end of Wednesday – bearing in mind that nothing about the results being pulled was out yet – so I was eagerly refreshing UCAS Track hoping for the best.
“I clicked on the news on my break to find out the BTec results had been pulled, and now I’m back to square one, unable to sign anything related to university because I don’t know whether I’m going or not.”
While his university is currently holding his place he said friends of his had been told by their universities that they needed to get confirmation of their results or their offers would be retracted.
He added: “I can’t imagine what some of those other students under their mental health support programmes at college are going through. I hope they’re getting the support they need.”
While the A-level fiasco was reported on widely as results came out, some BTec students feel that their struggle to get the results they deserve has gone unrecognised – especially for those who are not aiming for top universities and instead are heading into employment.
Walker said: “People have always thought that BTecs are lower qualifications than A-levels – I think that really needs to be corrected.
“It’s been so hard to get people to understand what we’ve been going through over the past week and the fact that this could have a massive impact on our futures.”