A DUDLEY family have been left devastated after their son lost his university place when his A-Levels were downgraded, branding the system a ‘fiasco’.

Ismail Khan was predicted to achieve three Bs in Chemistry, Maths and Biology by his teachers at Dudley's Bishop Milner Catholic College and held a conditional place at Aston University to study computer science.

But, like many teenagers around the country, Ismail was devastated to open his results to find his results had been downgraded by the exam board as part of the national moderation process.

He received a B, C and D, meaning he has lost his place to study at university.

It comes as A-Level grades were estimated for the first time ever due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with exams watchdog Ofqual estimating that exam boards downgraded 39.1% of student’s grades in England.

Ismail’s father Azeem says he feels his son has been unfairly penalised by a flawed process and that teacher’s predictions for grades should be given preference.

Azeem said: “If it had been one grade lower they [the university] maybe could have helped him but because it is quite a few grades lower they can’t. He is devastated and doesn’t know what to do.”

Students with grades lower than they expected can appeal the decision, use their mock grade or retake the exams later in the year under a 'triple lock' system, the government has said.

It is a bitter disappointment to Ismail, who although predicted to get three Bs was aiming for A grades in biology and chemistry had he been allowed to sit his exams this summer.

Azeem has also questioned whether the location of Ismail’s school and home in Dudley played a part, amid national concerns that those from less privileged backgrounds have been hardest hit by the moderation process.

He added: “We’re wondering if the area played a part, it seems to be a postcode lottery. It’s people’s lives they are playing with, he has worked really hard.

“We really value education, especially in the current climate. If you haven’t got a decent education it’s harder to get a good job.”

Ismail is now in limbo and is looking for clarity for his next steps, whether to appeal, enter clearing, apply for a different course or take exams later this year.

Azeem branded the government’s handling of the A-Level situation as a “fiasco and a shambles” adding: “The government talk about equalling up areas but this goes against that.”

Dudley North MP Marco Longhi said the government's 'triple lock' system is there to support students and that it was vital that any students impacted by a downgrading should contact their school to discuss their options.

Mr Longhi added: "Ofqual has said it is committed to doing all it can to make sure students are not disadvantaged by these unprecedented circumstances, including allowing for an appeal where appropriate. Whilst the vast majority of grades awarded will be accurate, it is essential that there is a robust appeals process in place.

"Students will be able to appeal – through their school or college – if they believe the process this summer was not followed correctly in their case; and centres themselves can appeal if they believe something has gone wrong in processing their results. Ofqual has confirmed that schools can appeal if they can show evidence grades are lower than expected because previous cohorts are not sufficiently representative of this year’s students.

"Students who have missed the grades for their university offer are also advised to contact their university directly. Universities have committed to be flexible and most are considering a wide variety of factors in addition to the grades awarded."

"Despite the unprecedented circumstances, grades have remained broadly stable with a 2.5 percentage point rise in As and A*s at A level. A record number of 18 year olds have been accepted into university. A record number from the most disadvantaged backgrounds in England have been accepted into university – up 7.3 per cent from last year."