A-level reforms will reduce access, say vice-chancellors

The Independent is reporting that vice-chancellors from Britain’s top universities have joined the criticism of Michael Gove’s A-level reforms, saying it will damage access to university for state school pupils…

In a survey, 22 leading universities said the Education Secretary’s decision to scrap AS-levels as a qualification to count towards a final A-level grade is a serious misjudgement that will damage state-school pupils’ efforts to be admitted to higher education.

The Labour Party survey of vice-chancellors, pro-vice-chancellors and admissions directors showed that almost 67 per cent opposed Mr Gove’s reforms, with only 18 per cent backing the changes that are due to be introduced in 2015. The new figures challenge the Department for Education’s claim that the reforms will raise standards and that leading universities are backing Mr Gove.

The survey will also do little to improve Mr Gove’s reputation as an elitist, with almost half of those questioned saying they believed the new regime would have a detrimental impact on fair access to university. Only 18 per cent believed the changes would have no impact.

Stephen Twigg, Labour’s education spokesman, said the changes would threaten social mobility by reducing state-school pupils’ chances of getting to university. He said: “David Cameron and Michael Gove are pulling up the ladder of opportunity behind them. They should listen to what our best universities are saying and change their plans.”

Professor Nick Foskett, the vice-chancellor of Keele University, said the qualifications, taken in Year 12, had been important in widening access. He said: “AS-levels ensure increased breadth post-16 and help students defer choices until they have a better grasp of subjects beyond GCSE.”

In the survey, to which 22 of the top 50 universities responded, a majority also agreed that AS-levels were a better indicator of future success than GCSE results, the prediction of grades or the use of admissions tests.

With elite Russell Group universities such as Oxford, Cambridge and the London School of Economics all taking part, the results cannot be dismissed by the DfE as unrepresentative.

More at:  A-level reforms will reduce access, say vice-chancellors

The report doesn’t make it especially clear why the proposed reforms will reduce access for state school pupils – is this a valid criticism and if so, why? Or should we be wary of a survey commissioned by the Labour Party that ends up critical of Michael Gove? Please share in the comments or on twitter… 

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