Number studying A-Level art and design returns to pre-pandemic level

It marks the first rise in numbers since 2017, however UCAS results show a decrease in the number of students placed on related undergraduate courses.

The number of students studying art and design at A-Level has gone up for the first time since 2017.

Grade data released today by Ofqual, the non-ministerial government department that regulates qualifications in England, shows that 39,295 students took A-Levels in art and design subjects in 2021.

High attainment in 2021

The number of top grades awarded for art and design courses has also increased in England.

Some 21.5% of all students studying the courses achieved an A* grade, compared with just 17.5% in 2020. Nearly half (46.5%) achieved an A or higher.

This is reflective of a wider trend among this year’s candidates. The Guardian reports nearly 45% of A-Level entries across the UK were awarded top grades this year.

Nearly three times as many girls than boys

Continuing a trend seen for well over a decade, girls were nearly three times as likely to study art and design in 2021 compared with their male peers.

A total of 29,190 female students were enrolled, versus 10,105 male students.

The gender split also shows girls achieving slightly higher grades overall.

Design and technology versus art and design

Design is split into two pathways at A-Level. Art and design remains the most popular, however a number of students opt for design and technology courses as well.

However despite the government’s emphasis on STEM subjects (science, engineering, technology and maths), the number of students studying on the design and technology pathway has declined.

Some 9,165 students studied related courses in 2020 – and this fell to 8,345 this year.

A 4% drop in design placements

Today’s A-Level results also gives a look into how undergraduate courses related to design are filling up. The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) has released its data today too.

Although Design Week reported last month a rise in the number of applications to study creative subjects at university, clearing data today shows a drop in the number of students placed on these courses.

So far, only 38,260 students have been placed on art and design courses. This is down from 40,020 in 2020 – a 4% drop.

However, since students have until September to secure a place at university through the UCAS Clearing system, this number could still go up before the start of term.

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