15:58 16 August 2012
For the first time in over two decades, there has been a decline in the proportion of A/A* grades awarded in the A-level results.
The drop isn't a sharp one however. This summer saw 26.6% of A-level students get the top two grades, as opposed to 27% last year.
And it's good news for more students: the overall pass rate has once again risen for the 30th successive year.
Roughly 335,000 students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are receiving their results this week - an important milestone that will decide for many if they will be entering their first choices of university.
The results have suggested that - as is the trend - girls tend to outperform boys and secure more A grades but this year around the boys pulled it back by taking home more A* grades by a small margin: 8% compared to 7.9%.
Admissions service UCAS reported that 7% less of students have now been accepted for university courses this year with 357,915 going into more education. The news comes this year as tutition fees reached record highs (the maximum set at £9,000 a year), prompting students to become pickier when it comes to subjects and the decision to enter at all.
However, Universities Minister David Willetts told the BBC that this shouldn't signal a longterm decline given the value of degrees to employers.
Willets stated: "There is a long-term trend for more and more people to aspire to go to university and for more and more employers to look to employ people with higher education qualifications and I personally don't think, taking the long view, that trend has suddenly stopped."
A-levels were introduced in 1951 and are taken in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Before 1982, the pass rate was estimated at 70% but it has since risen year-on-year to 98% in 2012.
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