A-level effects day is on Thursday. It typically brings plenty of photographs of young people leaping inside the air and lazy commentators doing their exceptional to minimize the achievements of body of workers and college students, despite now not stepping foot in a school for many years.
What it doesn’t usually deliver is a great deal dialogue about the fact that a variety of the effects will have little effect on where and what growing numbers of college college students look at.
The University and College Union (UCU) has been something of a lone voice calling for reform, but the latest explosion in unconditional gives and “conditional unconditional offers” – in which a student is handiest guaranteed an area in the event that they listing the college as their first preference – have exposed the flaws of our machine. We have seen a real shift in opinion.
Almost in 5 college students (38%) obtained as a minimum one unconditional offer this yr, as compared to a third (34%) remaining 12 months and simply 1% six years ago.
We are on my own in the usage of a gadget wherein college students are supplied college locations primarily based on expected grades, which might be notoriously faulty – just 16% of college students clearly in shape the marks they had been anticipated.
Moving to a put up-qualification admissions (PQA) gadget – in which humans practice to college after they get their outcomes – would cope with the trouble of erroneous grade predications, abolish the chaotic clearing system, make unconditional offers redundant and stage the gambling field for college kids.
Recent reviews announced via universities watchdog the Office for Students and Universities UK, which represents vice-chancellors, propose that universities are eventually catching up with the idea that our gadget isn’t always up to scratch. The tempo of alternate has now not been brief and former attempts to task the popularity quo have failed.
The outgoing schooling secretary, Damian Hinds, said the boom in unconditional gives became “disturbing” and “can be symptomatic of wider problems inside university admissions approaches”. He has additionally spoken out towards the usage of conditional unconditional gives, likening them to “stress-promoting procedures, which are harming college students’ grades”.
It seems easier at present to discover guide for shifting to a PQA gadget than competition. The lazy defence of the reputation quo is that such a radical change could be disruptive and unworkable, however that just doesn’t ring authentic when we observe what different nations do.
A root and department reform of our admissions device could offer an possibility for joined-up questioning – both in terms of the way students are supported to make choices about where to look at, and in how we ensure establishments are making truthful, obvious and properly-knowledgeable choices approximately the scholars they need to educate.
Any reform should ensure that the voices of team of workers and students are heard. UCU contributors are as dedicated as every person to making the system fairer. In a survey of admissions personnel, seven out of 10 respondents stated they backed a PQA machine.
The tide is delivering favour of reform and a actual opportunity now exists for a thorough overhaul. The modern-day system, primarily based on inaccurately expected consequences, is failing students. It is time we followed the kind of system used round the sector in which college gives are based on real achievements instead of guesswork.