Two A*s required to study at Oxbridge

Chris Rowe 14 October 2014

 For the first time, applicants will require two A*s at A-level to gain places on certain courses at Oxford and Cambridge.

The new requirements were announced just days before the application deadline for Oxbridge. Experts say that the move reflects mounting competition with over 34,000 applicants applying to both universities last summer for just 6,400 places.

All science, maths and medicine courses at Cambridge will adopt the new A*A*A tariff. Oxford will also require A*A*A in three courses – maths, maths and philosophy and maths and statistics. Most other science courses at Oxford will continue to require one A* and the top grade will not be applied to Arts subjects.

The University of Cambridge have insisted that the change did not “raise the bar” for students because more than nine-in-10 successful science applicants already achieved A*A*A or better. The university also argued that “the revised offer gives applicants a clearer indication of the level of attainment realistically required to compete for a place, and to thrive on science courses.”

Helena Blair, Access Officer for CUSU, voiced concern over the decision taken by Cambridge University: “Representing students' views, CUSU took a stance against the offer level rise and raised concerns regarding its potential impact on Access. We believe the rise might deter able but less confident applicants.” She went on to say that this was “especially significant as A Level reforms remove a key benchmark by which prospective students gauge their academic ability and progress towards achieving the highest grades.”

Concern over access has also been raised by current students. Sam Garratt, a second year NatSci, argued that state-school applicants will potentially be disadvantaged by the move: “For a lot of sixth formers applying for a STEM subject at Cambridge, the A* in further maths will become essential. Yet, many state schools do not have the resources to give the subject the attention it deserves.”