From education to employment

New EDSK report on university admissions ‘Admitting mistakes’ is launched

New EDSK report on university admissions

On the day that students around the country confirm their university choices for this autumn, a new report from education think tank @EDSKthinktank calls on the government to strip universities of their control over the admissions system. The report called ‘Admitting mistakes’ recommends that the Department for Education and the Office for Students work together to implement a new admissions process because the current system is designed to suit the interests of universities, not students.

The report identifies several flaws in the way that the university admissions system operates at present. For example, despite ‘predicted grades’ being a central feature of the current admissions process, only 21 per cent of applicants met or exceeded their predicted grades last year. In addition, high-achieving students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to be under-predicted than other students.

The report also raises concerns about whether universities are acting responsibly with regards to admissions practices, particularly in relation to ‘unconditional offers’. Last year, 38% of applicants received such an offer – up from 1% in 2013. Almost two-thirds of universities now use unconditional offers to attract students, with some handing out these offers to as many as 85% of applicants. This growth has occurred despite universities knowing that applicants holding an unconditional offer are far more likely to underperform in their school and college examinations.

Furthermore, the impact of the admissions system on social mobility is inescapable. On every available measure, applicants from the most privileged backgrounds dominate entry to the most selective institutions. This is driven by a range of factors such as the refusal of some universities and faculties to use ‘contextual admissions’ and also the enormous scope for wealthy parents and schools to manipulate the admissions process in their favour by investing in tutoring for personal statements, entrance exams and interviews.

The report concludes that a new approach is needed to create an admissions system that is built on fairness, transparency and equity.

Related Articles