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Office for Students responds to Universities UK admissions review

Chris Millward

Commenting on the recommendations from the Fair Admissions review published by @UniversitiesUK, Chris Millward (@Millward_Ch), Director for Fair Access and Participation at the Office for Students (@officestudents), said:

‘A fair and robust admissions system is essential for ensuring equality of opportunity for all students, and must help applicants from all backgrounds choose and gain admission to the best possible course and university or college for them.

‘There is evidence that disadvantaged students could benefit from a system where offers are made on the basis of grades achieved rather than predicted grades, particularly in applications to the most selective universities. Post-qualification admissions could also help improve transparency in contextual admissions and other entry requirements.  But it is not a magic bullet for fair access. 

‘So, we will consider all of UUK’s proposals carefully, including the proposed move to post-qualification admissions, and continue to work with partners across the higher education sector to improve the admissions system – that means identifying how to remove barriers to disadvantaged applicants, promoting transparency and clarity about the admissions process and ensuring the system works fairly for all.

‘There is widespread recognition that aspects of the current system are not working. For example, research suggests that students from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to receive under-predicted A-level grades. We have also temporarily banned ‘conditional unconditional’ offers during the pandemic due to the pressure that they can put on students to make choices which may not be in their best interests.

‘As Universities UK proposes today, we have also called for universities to make a deeper commitment to contextual offer making. We know that school results are not achieved under equal conditions, and it is crucial that universities and colleges recognise candidates’ potential when making admissions decisions.  That’s what they have committed to do through the access and participation plans agreed with OfS.’

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