Review predicted grades and overused unconditional that threaten our universities

As thousands of students receive their A Level results across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, it’s time the Government ensured that the university admissions process is as fair and transparent as possible to safeguard the integrity of the higher education system.

The current system of predicted grades and unconditional offers is at risk of undermining the process of university admissions and putting undue pressure to pupils.

Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) National Chairman Mike Cherry said:

“This is a crucial time for all students as they make their next steps to higher education which is why the process of university admissions need to serve pupils in the best way possible.

“It’s vital that the admissions system works in the interests of pupils in what is a challenging educational environment.

“The last administration announced that a full review was needed to put an end to some practices which undermined the credibility of the university admissions process.

“First of all, the current system of predicted grades are not sufficiently accurate and should not be used for admissions. Secondly, the use of unconditional offers harms students’ grades and traps them from exploring other options.

“This practice is suitable to only some pupils and universities but not for all. In 2013, only 1.1% of pupils received an unconditional offer, compared to 2018 where a staggering 34.4% did so.

“Gavin Williamson and Jo Johnson must pick up where Damian Hinds left off to create a fair system which doesn’t pressurise pupils into making a decision that can lead to under achievement in exams and have a major impact on their educational and working lives.

“We need this review to uphold the integrity of the higher education system as well as ensuring pupils are able to get the most out of their education.

“And to all pupils, congratulations and well done with your results.”

Responding to the Sutton Trust’s annual polling of young people on their university aspirations, Gordon Marsden MP, Labour’s Shadow Higher Education Minister, said:

“These figures show how badly this government has failed young people. As a result, more students are expressing doubts about higher education.

“Young people are paying the price for a system that burdens them with debt, and doesn’t provide the guidance and support they need.

“We need to support young people. That’s why Labour will restore EMA, and scrap fees for college and university.

“We’ll also scrap university offers based on predicted grades and implement a new fairer system of post-qualification admissions.”

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