Thursday evening news briefing: Generation Covid's A-levels scramble

·6 min read
Your evening briefing from The Telegraph
Your evening briefing from The Telegraph

The number of A-level students without university places is at a decade-high. What does it tell us about how the class of 2022 – the first to take exams in three years – was failed by the handling of Covid? But first, the headlines...

Evening briefing: Today's essential headlines

Brace for more rail strikes | The rail dispute could be prolonged "indefinitely", a union leader has warned, as the latest strike by thousands of workers again caused travel misery for passengers. The RMT's Mick Lynch joined picket lines on the day only around one in five trains ran across the UK. See how your rail line will be impacted during another walkout on Saturday – and others throughout the summer.

The big story: Winners and losers in grades crackdown

They have been dubbed Generation Covid – the teenagers who have borne the brunt of the havoc wreaked on schools by repeated lockdowns.

Today, it was confirmed that the number of A-level students without a university place is the highest in a decade following warnings that predicted grades might have been too generous.

Almost 43,000 teenagers did not have a university place or an offer after A-level results were published this morning, up 35pc on last year.

It comes after record demand from teenagers was met by a squeeze on places at certain universities. The group, which represents 14.1pc of all applicants, is the highest number since 2011. And students, who were sitting the first exams in three years after coronavirus, saw a record fall in top grades.

As education editor Louisa Clarence-Smith reports, around 60,000 fewer A and A* grades have been awarded as the Government clamps down on the record marks inflation during the pandemic's teacher assessments.

Data journalist Alex Clark explains the winners and losers in six charts.

Dr Martin Stephen, a London chair of governors, says when you dig into the numbers you see the real tragedy of this year group's circumstances.

For students who did not meet the required grades, Clearing can offer a second opportunity. The unusually high number of applicants without a university place this year was expected to lead to a scramble for the UCAS process.

All your Clearing questions are answered in this guide. Are you unsure how to talk to a teenager whose results were not as had been hoped? Here are the dos and don'ts for friends and family.

Best and worst value degrees

Once the hurdle of securing a university place is cleared, students are warned they are "sleepwalking into crisis" as the cost of living soars and government loans fail to keep up with inflation – leaving a £1,000 black hole.

So it is perhaps more important than ever for students and parents alike to follow these finance tips.

And while a university education used to be a one-way ticket to a better-paying career, that is not always the case these days. The type of degree and the grade have a big effect on future earnings.

Will Kirkman explains how much different degrees are worth – and which qualifications earn the least after graduation.

Ukrainian student aces exams

One of the most heartwarming stories of the day came from Cardiff Sixth Form College, where a Ukrainian student who became a translator for the British Army after Russia invaded his home country excelled in his A-levels.

Zorian Tytych, 18, got As in all four of his subjects – maths, biology, chemistry and physics – and has been given a place at Durham University.

Read his story of how he watched his family flee from his home city of Kyiv while his father, a lawyer, fought on the front line.

Comment and analysis

World: 'I haven't used drugs’ – Finland's partying PM

She was recently dubbed "the coolest politician in the world", but Finland's prime minister Sanna Marin was forced to deny taking illegal drugs after videos were leaked of her dancing, drinking and singing at a raucous party. In the leaked video footage, unidentified people are heard shouting about "flour", which is a slang term for cocaine in Finland. Watch the video in our report by Europe editor James Crisp.

Thursday interview: Clare Grogan – 'Most women are more entertaining than men'

Clare Grogan, the Altered Images singer and Gregory's Girl star, is back. She tells Neil McCormick about Gary Kemp's infatuation and being called a "has-been" at 24. Read the interview

Clare Grogan
Clare Grogan

Sport briefing: England vs South Africa – live

England made a belated breakthrough on day two of the first Test at Lord's today. Follow the latest updates with Rob Bagchi. Meanwhile, Premier League clubs are poised to embark on a £500 million gold rush over the final two weeks of the summer transfer window. With a fortnight remaining, Matt Law examines how a number of clubs, led by Chelsea and Manchester United, are still looking to spend big.

Editor's choice

  1. White Rajah | How an itinerant British soldier became king of a tropical paradise

  2. Pushed and exploited | Shocking memoir that exposes the dangers of child stardom

  3. Travel | Middle classes ruin camping – here are the signs you are part of the problem

Business briefing: GB News builds £60m war chest

GB News has secured £60m of fresh investment as part of an ownership shake-up in which the Hollywood titan Warner Bros. Discovery has sold its stake in the fledgling news network. Ben Woods reports that the departure of high-profile backers just over a year since its launch is the latest upheaval to strike the opinionated news station. Meanwhile, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is slashing tax on household energy bills as Europe's largest economy braces for a winter crisis.

Tonight starts now

On a roll | Is Emma Raducanu back to her best? That is the question fans are asking after comprehensive wins over Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka at the Western and Southern Open this week. There were signs that Raducanu is edging closer to the level displayed on her run to the US Open title. We will get a much better assessment of where the British No 1's game is at when she faces world No 8 Jessica Pegula tonight for a place in the quarter-finals. Uche Amako identifies three signs that Raducanu's game has come alive on the hard courts of America.

Three things for you

And finally... for this evening's downtime

Taking over from Concorde | This week, American Airlines ordered 20 of Boom's high-speed passenger jets, so is aviation about to get fast and fabulous once again? John Arlidge explores what supersonic travel should look like this time.

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