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How Tier 4 Child Migrants Can Appeal A-Level Results

In the UK education sector, 2020 will go down as what the Queen herself might call an ‘annus horribilis’; Latin for a horrible year. COVID-19 has completely moved the goalposts for GCSE, A-Level, BTEC, and university students as rather than having final marks based on exams, grades have been assessed in completely new ways. Teacher assessments and mock exam results have been used to provide final grades and judging by today’s news, many students feel extremely angry. For Child student visa (Tier 4) holders who have received vastly different marks to those they were expecting, it is important to know what you can do next. If you are still in your home country after returning mid-year due to COVID-19, you may feel quite helpless and that there is little you can do. In this article, we will explain the guidance provided by Ofqual (the body which regulates qualifications, examinations and assessments in England)

Confusion reigns as A-Level results are released

The day of writing this article (13th August 2020), is also A-level results day. According to Ofqual, 39.1 percent of A-level assessments provided by teachers for students were downgraded by at least one grade. While it is always normal for overall results to be statistically redistributed, having nearly 40 percent reduced will only feed into the fears of many students, both domestic and Tier 4 child visa holders, that they will be disadvantaged by this whole process. As reported in the Guardian, Geoff Barton, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, stated on this matter: “While there has been an overall increase in top grades, we are very concerned that this disguises a great deal of volatility among the results at school and student level….We have received heart-breaking feedback from school leaders about grades being pulled down in a way that they feel to be utterly unfair and unfathomable. They are extremely concerned about the detrimental impact on their students.”

Many students and parents expressed their views on Twitter. One deeply unhappy parent, @NickDayPA wrote, “My daughter, whose predicted A level grades were A,B,B has just been ‘awarded’ C,C,C and all of her UCAS offers have been withdrawn”. Another, @nad1as wrote, “My son was predicted 3 As he’s been given 3 Cs he’s crushed all offers withdrawn. I don’t know how to help him. I’m so utterly sorry and we are too living your pain”. And @JanetLWells said, “My son didn’t get his offer either. Despite getting an A in GCSE Maths and a* in GCSE further maths and a predicted A, he was just given a B. He had an offer in Canada for his dream course. Even had a scholarship. But needed an A in maths. Devastated”. One positive message by @FPLConnor simply said, “really happy, results back and firm choice confirmed)”.

The impact of receiving vastly lower grades can be considerable. For some, it will mean they do not get their first choice of university, for others, it may mean all offers and even offers of funding are withdrawn.

What can international students do if they are concerned about their A-level results?

Unfortunately, it is not possible for students who have received A-level grades for 2020 to appeal directly. Ofqual announced this week that appeals can be raised on behalf of a whole school if there is reason to believe the data used to standardise grades was not a “reliable basis” for predicting results. If you are concerned that a mistake has been made, you can ask your school to check. If they agree that an administrative error has been made, they will be able to submit an appeal to the exam board on your behalf, however, there is no certainty as to how long any appeal process might take. There is also a risk that your mark may not go up, it may stay the same or even be reduced.

Where there are concerns of bias or discrimination leading to lower results, Ofqual advises, “if you have concerns about bias, discrimination or something else that suggests that your school or college did not behave with care or integrity when determining centre assessment grade or rank order information, you should first raise these concerns with your school or college. Your school or college must have a procedure to deal with complaints. If you are concerned that you have evidence of serious malpractice by the school or college, it may be appropriate to bring those concerns directly to the exam board”.

Ofqual also advises contacting the following resources if you are unsure what to do:

Exam Results Helpline

Telephone 0800 100 900

Or email: nationalcareers.service.gov.uk

The Exam Results Helpline can provide information on appeals, complaints, or what your next steps maybe once you’ve received your results.

Ofqual

Telephone 0300 303 3344

You can contact the Ofqual student support phone line if you want to find out more about how you were graded, the autumn exams series, how to make an appeal or raise a concern about bias or discrimination.

In the first instance, if you are concerned about your grades, you should make a time to speak to your teachers regarding your best options, including whether you should accept your backup offer, appeal your grades, re-take your A-levels in October (remember this may mean you will not be able to start university in September), or going through the clearing process for a place at another university.

Final words

It is natural to feel worried or anxious if your plans have been turned upside down as a result of lower than expected grades. If you are a Tier 4 child student visa holder hoping to apply for a Tier 4 student visa to attend university, you will have options. You can be assured, even if you are in your home country, you are not alone. Many UK based students and other international students are dealing with the same problem. By speaking to your teachers, and also your preferred university, you will be able to come to a solution which allows you to return to study in the UK for the 2020/21 academic school year.

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