By Max Clarke

“Don’t let your career aspirations sink if you didn’t secure a university place. There are a myriad of nationally recognised alternatives available”, is the message given today by Liz Field, CEO of the Financial Skills Partnership as over 250,000 students across the UK are due to receive their A level results today.

As a frantic scramble for university places is set to get under way, more than a third of applicants are set to miss out on a place.

The competition for places this year will be at an all-time high as the number of students being awarded an A* grade is set to rise whilst the overall A-grade pass rate is expected to hit a new record high of 27.5%.

At the same time, the anxiety of many perspective students will not be eased by the fact that the number of students deferring and taking a gap year has fallen from 47,000 last year to around 30,000 this year as the rush for admissions intensifies ahead of the hike in university fees later next year, (the average degree cost will rise from £3,290 to as much as £9,000 a year).

The grim outlook is further compounded by the fact that record numbers of students will be turned away as universities toughen up their admissions process — demanding a minimum of an A* grade - to avoid over-recruiting for places as demand is expected to soar to a record high of around 707,000 across Britain.

Around 30% of the UK’s universities — including the UK’s leading Russell group institutions - have said that they will not be entering clearing because they are full, leaving around 209,000 students eligible for clearing this year without a chance for a place.

We are living in changing socio-economic times and archaic attitudes by some towards alternative education routes need to reflect these changes or risk falling behind.

Those aspiring to higher education need not be disheartened as Field calls for students and their parents to evaluate all of the options available. “There has been a big push by employers to introduce various school leaver programmes — including apprenticeships and sponsored degrees — as additional alternatives to standard graduate programmes in an attempt to plug the skills deficits required for many roles in the financial sector.”

The financial sector remains a top career path for many aspiring students and for the UK to remain economically competitive, it relies on a steady influx of talented individuals into the sector.

“Vocational training schemes are the new currency," continued Fileds. "They provide an opportunity for young people who have the right drive and attitude to reach senior positions within the financial professions — including accountancy - and serve as genuine, nationally recognised alternatives to self-funded university qualifications.”

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