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UCU says the system for applying to university needs a radical overhaul

28 November 2018 | last updated: 4 December 2018

The union was commenting after a report from UCAS found that a third (34.4%) of 18 year old applicants from England, Northern Ireland and Wales had received an unconditional offer. The report demonstrates the proliferation of unconditional offers in recent years. In 2013 just 1% of applicants received an unconditional offer.

The report also revealed that students' results are affected if they have accepted an unconditional offer. It found that a higher percentage of students holding an unconditional offer missed their predicted grade by two or more grades than students without an unconditional offer.

The union said the time had come for the whole of the UK to join the rest of the world and adopt a system of post-qualification admissions, where offers are based on actual achievement rather than estimated potential. Currently England, Wales and Northern Ireland use predicted grades to award university places.

UCU head of policy and campaigns Matt Waddup said: 'Unconditional offers have made a mockery of exams and put students under enormous pressure to make snap decisions about their future. The fact so many students are failing to meet their expected grades means we need to overhaul the system.

'The time has come for us to join the rest of the world and use a system of applying to university where students' offers are based on actual results, not guesswork. Changing to a system where students apply after they get their results would rule out the need for unconditional offers.'