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Labour Party backs overhaul of university admissions system

13 August 2019 | last updated: 14 August 2019

The Labour Party will overhaul university admissions so students apply to university after they get their results, it has announced today.

UCU, which has long campaigned for reform of university admissions, welcomed the move and said it was time the UK caught up with the rest of the world by basing offers on actual achievement rather than guesswork.

The union said that shifting to a post-qualifications admissions (PQA) system - where people apply to university after they get their results - would deal with the problem of inaccurate grade predications, put an end to the chaotic clearing system and level the playing field for students.

UCU said the change would also make unconditional offers and "conditional unconditional offers" - where a student is only guaranteed a place if they list the university as their first choice - redundant.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'We have long called for an overhaul of university admissions and welcome Labour's commitment to reform the system. Allowing people to apply after they receive their results would help level the playing field for students, remove the problems associated with unconditional offers and end the chaotic clearing scramble.

'The current system, based on inaccurately predicted results, is failing students. It is time we adopted the type of system used around the rest of the world where university offers are based on actual achievements instead of guesswork.'

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. Yet only one in six (16%) students' A-level grades are predicted correctly.

No other countries use predicted grades to award university places, and seven in ten staff involved in university admissions back the move to a PQA system.