A freedom of information request has revealed that 30,000 students are currently based at the university’s Exeter campuses for the 2022-23 academic year, a significant fall on last year.
The 29,600 students remaining after distance learners are excluded make up 23% of Exeter’s population of 130,800.
25,700 of these attend full-time with another 3,800 mainly postgraduate part-time students. The remaining students are only registered for a single semester.
The university’s Exeter roll has fallen 9,335 since last year when it said 39,000 students were based at its campuses in the city.
The cancellation of A-level exams in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic led to a surge in students gaining undergraduate places at universities with more competitive entrance requirements as a result of teacher assessment-driven grade inflation.
The proportion of A* A-level grades awarded in 2020 nearly doubled to 14.4% from 7.8% the previous year, then increased again in 2021 to 19.1% of all A-level grades awarded.
There were also significant increases in A grade awards, leading to oversubscription of university places and a significant number of deferrals encouraged by universities to spread the impact.
A fall in Exeter undergraduate numbers was expected after OFQUAL intervened to deflate grades to their pre-pandemic levels over two years, affecting the 2022 and 2023 results.
The proportion of A* grades fell back to 14.6% this year, the first year since 2019 that students sat exams, and the number of A grades also dropped.
The University of Exeter accordingly made fewer offers for entry this year.
However 58% of this year’s drop in Exeter numbers was accounted for by a fall in postgraduate students. Entry to postgraduate courses has not been affected by pandemic A-level grade inflation.