University admissions body to recommend students get offers after exam results

Ucas is set to recommend changing the university admissions system so students receive their exam results before getting offers for places.

It comes after the government launched a consultation on proposals for offers being made on final grades, rather than predicted ones – as is currently the case.

A director at the university admissions body Ucas – which is due to set out recommendations on reforms for the admissions system this week – said the organisation would be “cautiously backing” such a model.

John Cope said the body would support a move to post-qualification offers – where students apply in the usual way during term-time, but offers would only be made after results day in the summer.

But he said the other option on the table – where students would apply to university and receive offers after A-level results day and then start degree courses in January – was a “step too far”.

He told an online event on the government’s consultation Ucas had “ruled out” this option, which was “not practical” and would put the country “out of sync internationally”.

Last November, the government unveiled proposals to overhaul the university admissions system so offers would be based on actual exam results rather than predicted grades.

The education secretary said these plans would “remove the unfairness” and boost opportunities for disadvantaged pupils who are high achievers.

Last year, Ucas said the system could change so university offers would be based on actual grades and it would publish “radical” new options to support disadvantaged students in the process.

Back in 2017, research found the university admissions process relied too heavily on predicted grades and personal statements, which could put poorer pupils at a disadvantage.

And last year, a survey by the Sutton Trust, a social mobility charity, suggested working-class students were more likely to say they would have applied to a more selective university if they would have known their A-level grades first.

Previous research from the charity found high achievers from disadvantaged backgrounds were more likely to end up achieving better grades than predictions compared to those who are better-off.

Mr Cope said there have been calls for a a post-qualifications admissions (PQA) system over the years due to concerns about the accuracy of predicted grades, as well as a lack of transparency around entry requirements.

Ucas would “welcome” a move away from predicted grades, he said.

Additional reporting by Press Association


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