New university application rules axed as unworkable
MOVES to encourage school leavers to apply to university only after receiving their results have been dropped amid mounting criticism from Scottish institutions.
The University and Colleges Admission Service (Ucas) had proposed a major shake-up of the system, including a move to introduce post-results applications.
However, the plan has now been axed following criticism from universities, including those in Scotland who said it would unfairly disadvantage applicants from north of the Border by reducing the admissions cycle to just the summer months.
St Andrews University was among those to criticise the proposal, saying it had failed to take into consideration the academic cycle of students outside of England.
There were concerns about the application process beginning after the end of the school term in Scotland and whether markers would have enough time to make the results available.
Ucas said there were “insurmountable difficulties” with the scheme because of differing term times and exam dates throughout the UK.
“It simply would not be feasible to shoe-horn a post-results model into the current academic year,” its report said.
Instead, the admissions service now plans to make changes to the clearing system, the annual process which matches students without places to courses that still have vacancies.
Clearing is used less in Scotland because most pupils have results after S5, whereas most English students apply based on predicted grades and have to go through clearing if they fail to get them.
Ucas chief executive Mary Curnock Cook said: “Although many respondents to our consultation felt instinctively that a post-results process should be fairer, we heard many well- articulated concerns from schools, colleges and the higher education sector about the practicalities of implementation and the potential disadvantages for significant groups of applicants.
“However, the challenge remains to secure more accountability and accuracy of predicted grades.”
Simon Jennings, deputy director of Universities Scotland, said: “Universities Scotland was supportive of the principle of post-qualification applications, but had a number of practical concerns regarding the specific set of proposals put forward.
“We did not believe they would improve the system for applicants or necessarily support widening access.
“We are pleased that Ucas has listened to stakeholder’s concerns and institutions will continue to work with Ucas to improve the current system.”
On changes to the clearing system, he added: “Typically, fewer Scottish students go through clearing than in the rest of the UK, but we recognise the current first-come-first-served approach is stressful for anyone that has to go through it.
“We’re open to working with Ucas to see how we might improve the system.”
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