Another increase in unconditional offers highlights need for radical change

29 July 2019 | last updated: 30 July 2019

Almost two in five students (38%) received at least one unconditional offer this year, compared to a third (34%) last year and just 1% six years ago.

The report, from UCAS, also reveals that the total number of unconditional offers made to 18-year-olds in England, Wales and Northern Ireland this year was 75,845, which represents 7.8% of all offers. This is up on last year's 67,915 (7.1% of all offers) and considerably higher than the 2,985 (0.4% of all offers) made in 2013.

UCU said the time had come to adopt a post-qualification admissions (PQA) system - preferred in the rest of the world - where students apply to university after they receive their exam results.

Research shows that only one in six (16%) university applicants achieve the exam grade points that they were predicted. While UCAS has found that holding an unconditional offer increases the chances of missing a predicted grade by two or more grades by 6.4 percentage points.

UCU acting general secretary Paul Cottrell said: 'Unconditional offers have made a mockery of exams and put teachers under unfair pressure when it comes to predicted grades. Unconditional offers put students under enormous pressure to make a snap decision about their future and can encourage some to take their foot off the gas, instead of striving for excellence.

'The continuing rise of unconditional offers demonstrates the stark failings of our current admissions system. It is time for us to join the rest of the world and adopt a post-qualifications admission system so we can make university offers based on actual achievements instead of guesswork.'

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