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University Alliance responds to the DfE consultation on Post-Qualifications Admissions Reform

The admission system needs reforming, but a move to Post Qualifications Admissions could be disruptive and costly, and risks losing many of the benefits from the existing system, argues University Alliance, the voice of professional and technical universities.

In their response to the DFE consultation on Post-Qualification Admissions Reform, University Alliance have outlined how they believe the current system could be made significantly simpler, fairer, and more transparent through a series of reforms without moving to post-qualification admissions (PQA).

Arguing that moving to a PQA system could be costly, complex and disruptive, the group instead outlines reforming measures which could significantly improve the higher education admission system for learners and providers.

This could include:

  • enhancing information, advice, and guidance (IAG) about post-18 education and training in schools and colleges,
  • making admissions processes more transparent, flexible, streamlined and student focused,
  • overhauling the predicted grades process,
  • and permanently banning conditional unconditional offers.

University Alliance also argue that key benefits to the existing system could be lost if we move to PQA, namely the time period to make life changing decision, less reliance on exams, and the competitive advantage provided as a study destination for international students.

The group do, however, acknowledge there is broad-based support for post-qualification admissions, and note their support for a post qualifications offers model akin to Model 2 in the DfE consultation, with a few important modifications. These include guaranteed access to in-person advice and guidance for all applicants during August, and applications being shared with providers at the time they are made to ensure full consideration can be given – and for providers to be able to reject applicants who clearly do not meet the course criteria.

Vanessa Wilson, University Alliance CEO said:

“We recognise that the higher education admissions system is far from perfect, and we welcome changes to make it fairer and more transparent. However, we believe the most effective way to achieve this is through retaining and reforming the existing admissions system.

This last year has shown that the current system is adaptable and we should learn from that – now is not the time for a radical overhaul, particularly when the proposed measures don’t address the issues that need fixing.

Through our submission we have outlined measures that could be taken to radically improve the current system without losing many of its existing benefits, and we look forward to working with the sector and Government to explore these.

Although we would prefer to retain and reform the current system, we recognise that government may wish to proceed with a post-qualification admissions system, and believe a post qualification offers model would be the most fair and transparent way forward in this instance.”

The full consultation response can be found here

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