A-Level results day marks a major moment for students and universities alike. For universities, it’s a day for celebrating a wave of new students to their institution in the autumn semester. But for the students who didn’t quite make the grades they were hoping for, it can be a stressful day, so universities need to have plans in place to showcase their offerings and streamline the process to welcome even more new students to their campuses.
This year, we worked throughout the day to optimise campaigns and provide the best ROI for our partner universities on their Clearing campaigns. This meant moving budget around, altering keywords and liaising with our clients. But of course, we wouldn’t have been able to do this without understanding key student trends which shaped the day. These trends change year on year with alterations to examinations, grading, government and so on.
To keep you up to date, here’s a run-down of everything we learned as this year’s Clearing unfolded, which we used to inform our paid media campaigns on the day and will continue to inform our campaigns as Clearing progresses.
1. At 8.13am, UCAS Clearing search volumes began to climb
Paid media campaigns rely heavily on search terms, so staying on track of what was trending and the times of peaks and troughs was key for us.
The fact that UCAS Clearing search volumes began their upward trajectory early on was unsurprising, as students were waiting anxiously in anticipation for their results.
2. Then, UCAS search queries decreased by 28%, and Clearing search queries rose by 24% as students received their results
As expected, the focus shifted to Clearing as results were announced, and most students found out whether they had been accepted onto their firm or second-choice institutions.
From a student perspective, results day means checking their UCAS portal in the morning, then often getting straight on the phone to universities to see what their options are, bypassing the UCAS hotline and website for advice.
3. The results gender gap narrowed by 4.8% since 2021
We’re so pleased to see that the gender gap was narrower than it’s ever been. Health and Social Care and German were the subjects with the greatest difference in grades between genders this year, with Health and Social Care weighted more towards females and German towards males.
With more role models breaking down stereotypes of ‘male’ and ‘female’ courses, shown through university course adverts, student success stories and in the world of work, we’re hoping that this trend will continue. We can’t wait for the day when people have equal opportunities to access courses. Here’s hoping it’s soon!
4. 180% more students from disadvantaged backgrounds achieved their firm or second choice university when compared to 2019
As ambassadors of education for all, we’re so pleased that 71% of university applicants who took T-levels were accepted. This offers students more paths into Higher Education whilst helping them to navigate the job market with technical skills acquired through industry placements.
5. 36% of A-Level entries received A and A* grades this year
While top grades were down, this year saw 19% more students accepted into university than in 2019, showing an increase in enrolments. However, with some courses (like medicine and dentistry) capping their numbers, students were still vying for places.
UCAS reported that, while 425,830 students had been accepted into university or college this year, 20,360 students had not.
6. Computer Science was the fastest-growing degree program, with 7% more students placed in computing degree programs this year than last year
Just through results day alone, 24,900 people are due to start courses in computing in September. We’re predicting that this number will rise until the end of Clearing on October 18th, as those who didn’t decide on results day make the final call on their courses.
What has all of this information taught us?
For universities, this will impact the way prospects are targeted for certain courses, opening up targeting pools to more people from different backgrounds, postcodes and education history. For us, it means creating new marketing strategies to effectively nurture those who haven’t decided on their course choice.
Looking for more insights to inform your final Clearing push? Keep an eye out for our deep dive report – coming soon!
Want to talk to us about your Clearing strategy? Get in touch today.