UCAS has announced that university offers could soon be based on actual grades as opposed to teacher predictions.
As the Independent reports, the admissions body is set to publish two “radical new options” in the coming weeks. It is hoped these will provide improved support to disadvantaged students who are regularly under-predicted.
One of the proposals is the introduction of a post-qualification (PQA) model. This would see pupils making university applications after getting their A-level grades, before beginning their courses in January.
The other option will see pupils applying in the way they do now, but they would only receive offers after they get their results in August.
Thousands of A-Level pupils got their grades downgraded back in the summer, spurring a quick U-turn from Ofqual which allowed pupils to use grades predicted by teachers.
UCAS chief executive, Clare Marchant, said: “Now is the time to take a serious look at reforming the admissions timetable, which we have been doing over the last few months with universities, colleges, students, and schools.”
Marchant acknowledged that the two options proposed could work practically and would help to improve fairness for students. They would also eradicate issues for pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds that have become “ingrained into the current admissions process.”
She continued: “It is absolutely critical though that we limit any unintended consequences of such major change. UCAS is ready to innovate and we look forward to sharing full details in the coming weeks, and working with colleagues from across the education sector in the UK to develop these ideas further.”
A Sutton Trust survey from October showed that most young people who applied to university this year believed it would be fairer to submit an application after they had their grades.
UCAS’ director of strategy, policy and public affairs, John Cope, said that the events that unfolded this year on results day means concerns around predicted grades must be addressed.
“Access to impartial, high-quality information, advice, and personalised support during the months when students are considering their options is essential to level up opportunity, which is why consideration must be given to reforming admissions, so life-changing decisions are made on the certainty of actual exam results, not predictions.”
Over the next few weeks, Universities UK (UUK), a company representing vice-chancellors, will share its own findings of a study into fair assessments. It will offer best practice suggestions with regards to offer-making and will pitch changes to make sure the admissions system works in the best interests of students.
A DfE spokesperson said: “We remain committed to delivering on our manifesto pledge to improve the admissions system.
“We are exploring options that will ensure it is as fair and transparent as possible, and works for every student.”