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Universities urged not to based student admissions on predicted grades

Report by UCU and Neon paves the way for a ‘fairer, student centred’ system

DITCHING university admissions based on predicted grades is essential to creating a “fairer, student-centred” system, the University and College Union (UCU) said today.

A joint report published by the union and the National Education Opportunities Network (Neon) found that the use of projected results, which are “incorrect more than 80 per cent of the time,” has been disadvantaging many students.

Government data shows that black students are more likely to have their grades underpredicted than their white peers.

The report, published in response to a government review of the admissions system, says axing projected results could also lower excessive workloads for school, college and university staff.

Students currently apply for autumn courses in January and receive offers based on their predicted grades, months before final results are published in August.

Under the post-qualifications applications (PQA) system proposed by the UCU and Neon, students would only apply to universities after receiving their actual results.

They argue the new model would require only relatively small shifts to the timing of the academic year and the change could also free up staff time by slashing the number of applications students make, currently around 1.5 million a year. 

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said that after years of campaigning, “we are finally on the cusp of tackling the unfairness in university admissions.

“Too many organisations seem wary of bold reform, [but] this report shows the blight of predicted grades must end if we are to remove the disadvantages students currently face.

“The time has come for a truly student-centred approach to university admissions, and we must not settle for half-measures.”

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