Colleges across Britain have lowered the grades GCSE students need following the marking scandal to avoid hundreds missing out on places.
Officials say that almost a third of colleges have “changed their admissions criteria” iin the wake of the row over marking of GCSE papers.
Today it emerged that tutors at Britain’s biggest College have now relaxed the restriction on dozens of courses.
Manchester College, which has 80,000 teenage and adult learners, said it will accept students who received D grades in English despite several of its courses requiring a minimum C.
The move is expected to benefit more than 500 students with provisional offers who faced missing out on A-level and national diploma courses.
A spokesman for Derby College, one of the country’s biggest with 7,000 students, also said it was taking a “flexible” approach to students who failed their GCSE English.
In the past they would reject anyone with anything below a C Grade for A-level courses but will assess on an individual basis anyone who received a grade D in English.
Manchester College said it had made the one-off move after thousands of youngsters missed out when the grade boundaries for the crucial exams were changed.
“Thousands of students were affected by the GCSE grade boundary changes this summer, a change that could have a devastating effect on their future education and long-term careers,” said Peter Tavernor, the college’s chief executive.
“We want to ensure that the young people affected still have the opportunity to follow their chosen path into education.”
Claire Narayanan, head of English at Levenshulme High School, welcomed the news.
“For the foundation English paper, which many of our pupils sit, you now need an extra ten marks to get a C,” she said.
“It means that many middling students who we thought were comfortably a C are now comfortably a D.
“The move has meant that lots of our girls who had planned to do A-levels now won’t be accepted. It’s a huge burden and responsibility on us as teachers.”
Exam bosses have denied caving in to political pressure from watchdog Ofqual and Michael Gove, the Education Secretary.
The Labour-run Welsh government has ordered thousands of papers to be remarked – a move condemned by Education Secretary Michael Gove, who claimed it would ‘devalue’ Welsh qualifications.
They say, instead, that earlier exams taken in January had been marked too generously.
But teachers and parents have accused the exam body of playing with young people’s futures.
Many colleges and sixth forms require school leavers to achieve at least a C in English, meaning students who just missed out faced being unable to start their chosen course.
It came after pass marks were suddenly raised in June tests set by all exam boards compared with those taken in January – meaning many pupils missed out on good grades.
But the same action will not be extended to more than 80,000 pupils taking WJEC tests in England following opposition to the move from Ofqual, which regulates exams on the other side of the border.
In an official report, Ofqual insisted grades for this summer’s exams were accurate and has refused to sanction a wholesale regrading.
The decision was backed by Mr Gove, who insisted the Welsh Government’s action was “irresponsible” and risked undermining GCSE standards.