Updated response to undergraduate places following the 2020 A-Level results

We are pleased to provide this update to what has been a challenging couple of weeks for students, families, and teachers as well as admissions teams both here at Oxford and at other UK Universities.

As a former comprehensive school student and Merton alumna myself, I know very well the benefits of an Oxford education and the extraordinary support that our students receive.

Well before the communications from current and former students about pupils without confirmed places, Merton’s Tutors and admissions team were working diligently to address matters in response to the receipt of the results early last week. By first thing on Thursday we had confirmed the places of the vast majority of those pupils who had not achieved the requisite grades, so that they knew their places were secure at Merton from the moment their results were released. In assessing those pupils with missed offers, our primary focus was on their ability to thrive in this environment. However, for a small handful of pupils, further information was required – either via an appeal or through additional information from teachers. We assured these pupils nonetheless that we would honour their place should their offer conditions be met. For reasons of confidentiality, it would not be appropriate to share further details.

In dealing with the unpredictability of this unprecedented A-level period, Merton followed policies and guidance from the University’s undergraduate admissions team and the Conference of Colleges. Obviously, there was considerable variation amongst the colleges regarding the numbers of students affected, college capacity, as well as overall course capacity. Oxford had to manage overall numbers and capacity in critical areas, including student housing, welfare provision, departmental teaching spaces or laboratory access for certain subjects – noting also the need for intergenerational fairness. It was evident that consideration would be needed about deferrals and that a fair and co-ordinated approach was required to resolve the situation across the Colleges and the Departments of the University: Merton played its part in that approach.

We were heartened by the news that the Government has agreed that A-level results can now be based on Centre Assessed Grades and not the algorithm devised by Ofqual. Merton will, of course, as already indicated to students last week, be honouring the offer of places to applicants whose Centre Assessed Grades meet their conditional offer, as well as those students whose places have already been confirmed. The College’s tutors work extremely hard every year to identify those whom we believe deserve a place at Merton, and so we are delighted to be in this terrific position.

Once again, let me congratulate the incoming Class of 2020 and welcome them to Merton College. May I also thank the College’s admissions team for their sterling work in the face of considerable challenges.

The Warden