admissions process
Image: Sophie Brown / Wikimedia Commons

Labour proposes to scrap predicted grades for new admissions process

The Labour Party has proposed plans to replace predicted grades with a new university admissions process where students apply to university after receiving their A-level results.

The plans would see an end to unconditional offers and Clearing through a post-qualifications admissions (PQA) system. These proposals coincide with students across England, Wales and Northern Ireland receiving their A-level results last week. 

According to The Sutton Trust, almost three-quarters of students did not receive the grades they were predicted.

The Labour Party have argued that the current system is unfair for students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. 

In a tweet, party leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “The current university admissions system is neither fair nor effective.”

Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner also commented: “A Labour government will deliver the reform that is needed.

“We will put students at the heart of the system, making it fairer, more accurate, and a genuine vehicle for social justice.”

We will put students at the heart of the system, making it fairer, more accurate, and a genuine vehicle for social justice

– Angela Rayner 

Meanwhile, a post-qualifications admissions process has been criticised as it would entail “structural change to either the secondary or higher education systems”, as expressed by Clare Marchant, who heads the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

“If introduced wholesale within the current timetables, it would be likely to significantly disadvantage under-represented and disabled students, unless secondary and/or university calendars changed,” she stated.

University and College Union (UCU) General Secretary Jo Grady argued otherwise, saying that Labour’s plan would “help level the playing field for students, remove the problems associated with unconditional offers and end the chaotic clearing scramble”. 

She elaborated: “The current system, based on inaccurately predicted results, is failing students and 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.”

These proposals come after Universities UK (UUK) launched a “Fair admissions review” in July, which is due to report back next spring.

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