ASCL responds to Sutton Trust research into reforming university applications

29/10/2020
Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, responds to research from the Sutton Trust showing most university applicants favour a move to post qualification applications.
 
Responding to research from the Sutton Trust showing most university applicants favour a move to post qualification applications, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:
 
“This research reinforces the pressing need for serious consideration to be given to an overhaul of the university applications system to make it fairer on students, especially as we think about how to rebuild after the damage inflicted by the Covid pandemic to so many areas of our national life.
 
“Teachers work hard and conscientiously to provide accurate predicted grades for students who are applying to university but no system which relies on individual estimates of how students will perform in exams can possibly be an exact science. Universities have also muddled the system by the excessive use of unconditional offers to recruit students which causes some young people to then underperform in their A-levels or equivalent qualifications and choose courses which may not be the best choice for them.
 
“These issues could be addressed by moving to a system of post qualification applications where students have the confidence of applying for courses with their grades in hand, but this idea is too easily put in the too-difficult drawer.
 
“There are significant practical issues which would need to be overcome in order to provide sufficient time for the university application process to take place between grades being awarded and the beginning of the university year, but it cannot be beyond the wit of man to find solutions, and the benefit to young people would be enormous.”