All potential students could be made to apply to university AFTER they get their A-levels with results moved earlier and the start of the academic year delayed under proposals from watchdog
- Office for Students suggested scrapping predicted grades and university offers
- Post-qualification scheme would also tackle the rise of ‘attainment offers’ made
- OfS added the current system did ‘not always work in the interests of students’
University hopefuls could be forced to wait until they receive their A-level grades before applying for a course under radical plans from a watchdog.
The Office for Students has suggested scrapping predicted grades and pre-qualification unconditional offers.
A post-qualification scheme would also tackle the rise of ‘attainment offers’ whereby pupils only need to gain low A-level grades such as two Es to secure places.
The OfS said the current system did ‘not always work in the interests of students’ who may not select the universities and courses best suited to them.
University hopefuls could be forced to wait until they receive their A-level grades before applying for a course under radical plans from a watchdog (stock image)
Other proposals included cracking down on ‘false marketing’ and ‘inducements’ to students such as offering cash or promises of accommodation in return for signing up to courses.
Institutions could also be asked to sign up to a code of practice that systematically offers lower grades to disadvantaged students.
Universities minister Michelle Donelan yesterday welcomed the admissions review, saying it would ‘be instrumental in helping assess how the system can be improved’.
It came as a separate report from think-tank, the Higher Education Policy Institute called on the Government to introduce an allowance to ensure the first year of a degree was free for students whose parents had not attended university.
The OfS consultation suggested either saving university offers until after a pupil had received their A-level results, or delaying the whole application process until post-results day.
The Office for Students has suggested scrapping predicted grades and pre-qualification unconditional offers (stock image)
Under the second scenario, hopefuls would ‘register’ interest in a course and apply to the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.
But these applications would only be shared with universities after A-level results were known.
OfS wants to close ‘gaps between most and least advantaged’
The higher education watchdog has said universities could be compelled to make lower offers to all applicants from poorer backgrounds.
The Office for Students wants to close ‘the gaps between the most and least advantaged groups’. At present, individual institutions decide whether to make less demanding offers to pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds.
But the OfS said all universities could sign up to a unified policy. This would emulate Scotland, where poorer applicants qualify for a ‘minimum entry threshold’ and are offered up to three grades lower across three A-levels, such as BBB instead of AAA.
This would see the abolition of predicted grades and pre-qualification unconditional offers.
Teachers have reported being ‘placed under pressure from senior staff, students and parents to submit what they believe to be overly ambitious predicted grades’.
The watchdog did admit, however, that a post-results application process could put strain on the Student Loans Company, UCAS, exam boards and schools.
Vital timings would have to change, with A-level exams and results coming earlier and the start of the first academic year ‘moved slightly later’.
A post-qualification offer system – whereby applications were submitted as usual but offers only made after A-level results – would also remove unconditional offers and the ‘need for predicted grades’.
A third scenario would see the current system retained, but the OfS said it would still need improving.
The consultation will run until May 21, with recommendations published in the autumn.