UCU welcomes Labour’s university pledge

The UCU has welcomed the Labour Party’s pledge to overhaul university admissions so students apply to university after they get their results.

The union, 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.”

Angela Rayner MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Education, said: “The higher education admissions system isn’t working for students, and radical action is needed to change that.

“Predicted grades are wrong in the vast majority of cases, and disadvantaged students in particular are losing out on opportunities on the basis of those inaccurate predictions. No one should be left out of our education system just because of their background, yet with grants scrapped and fees tripled, the system is now deeply unfair.

“A Labour government will deliver the reform that is needed, implementing a new system of post-qualification admissions by the end of our first term in office. We will put students at the heart of the system, making it fairer, more accurate, and a genuine vehicle for social justice.

“We will work with schools, colleges, and universities to design and implement the new system, and continue to develop our plans to make higher education genuinely accessible to all.”

 Almost two in five students (38%) received at least one conditional 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.

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