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Another record year as East Anglian A-level students told to 'stay calm'

PUBLISHED: 07:00 19 August 2010 | UPDATED: 09:17 16 September 2010

Steve Downes

Records were broken for the 28th year in a row today as thousands of worried East Anglian students prepared to find out their A-level results.

Nationally, the pass rate rose yet again, with 97.6pc of entries awarded at least an E, up from 97.5pc in 2009.

This is the first year that an A* grade has been introduced, to differentiate between the good and very good candidates. One in 12 entries was awarded the new grade today.

Records were broken for the 28th year in a row today as thousands of worried East Anglian students prepared to find out their A-level results.

Nationally, the pass rate rose yet again, with 97.6pc of entries awarded at least an E, up from 97.5pc in 2009.

This is the first year that an A* grade has been introduced, to differentiate between the good and very good candidates. One in 12 entries was awarded the new grade today.

More than one in four entries (27pc) were awarded an A grade - up from 26.7pc last year.

The region's students were urged to “stay calm” as they found out their grades.

With jobs in short supply and more than 170,000 people set to miss out a cherished university place, this is arguably the most nerve-wracking results day yet.

Scores of schools and colleges will open their doors to eager young people, collecting their grades at the end of 13 years of education.

But the celebrations of many young people as they pick up the results they had hoped for will be tempered with deep fears about the future for thousands of others.

The knife-edge situation is illustrated locally, with Norwich University College of the Arts (Nuca) full to the brim and not going into the university clearing system this year after a 27pc rise in applications for places.

The University of East Anglia is expecting to have just 70 places available through clearing after seeing a 30pc rise in applications for this year's courses.

Despite the jobs and higher education squeeze, young people were advised not to become “disconsolate”.

City College Norwich principal Dick Palmer said: “These are tough times, but there are still opportunities. There are still places at City College Norwich on academic and vocational degrees.

“This is a good time to think about high-level apprenticeships. It's a great time to learn and earn. Don't get disconsolate about it, get active.

“There are limitations, but there are opportunities if people are willing to get out there and seek a career, rather than think that university is the only way.”

Alison Thomas, Norfolk County Council's cabinet member for children's services, said: “We know that this can be an extremely stressful time for students, particularly if they have not got the results they wanted but there are still many options available to them.

“We would urge anyone who finds themselves in this position to stay calm and initially seek advice from their school who should be able to offer guidance and support.

“Information about the clearing process is available from UCAS and there are also many alternatives to university. Further advice is available by calling Connexions Direct on 080 800 13219. I wish all of those collecting their results today the very best of luck.”

Nuca has joined a host of other UK universities in deciding not to enter the post-results clearing system. This year it has had 1,870 applications for 575 places - up from 1,473 last year.

Principal, Prof John Last, said: “It is unfortunate that we are not able to offer any more places to committed and able students who will miss out on the opportunity of studying at Nuca. Application numbers for places to study in September have been our highest yet.”

If any places do become available, they will be at www.nuca.ac.uk from tomorrow.

University Campus Suffolk, which has a presence in Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft, is among the select few universities to get additional funded places for this year, so is likely to have clearing places available. See www.ucs.ac.uk/clearing.

Meanwhile, new figures showed that one in six 18-24-year-olds are not in school, college or work - a problem that is expected to be exacerbated once teenagers have received their A-level results.

Statistics published by the Department for Education (DfE) reveal that 776,000 (16.3pc) 18-24s were classed as Neets - not in education, employment or training - in the second quarter of this year. This is 130,000 more than were considered Neet five years ago, but is down on the same time last year, when it had hit 831,000.

Figures from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) indicated that the figure could soon increase.

According to the DWP, last year 7,775 18-24-year-olds in East Anglia joined the Jobseekers Allowance register within a few days of the A-level results being published.

The figures included 3,175 in Norfolk, 2,665 in Suffolk and 1,935 in Cambridgeshire, with the highest local council figures including 695 in Norwich, 555 in King's Lynn and West Norfolk, 515 in Waveney and 500 in Great Yarmouth.

This year, the shortage of higher education places and low number of available jobs means the figures are expected to be significantly higher.

t To see the results for every school and college in the area, as they are released, keep an eye on this website. For the nation's most comprehensive regional results round-up, don't miss tomorrow's paper. If you have a great story to share about A-level results, call Steve Downes on 01603 772495 or email steve.downes@archant.co.uk.

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