Do unconditional university offers make A-levels pointless?

The Guardian has an interesting article from a blogging sixth former asking whether the practice of giving unconditional offers for university places makes A levels less important…

In January, 5 months before I would sit my A-levels, I received an unconditional offer to study English at the University of Sussex. I was ecstatic and of course relieved that there was now a smidgeon less pressure resting on my shoulders.

Though I’d never expected to receive such an offer, it’s part of a growing trend. Queen Mary, Nottingham and Leicester are among those making such offers, and The Badger, Sussex’s student newspaper, suggests around 15% of applicants to the University of Sussex have received unconditional offers.

But pre-exam unconditional offers aren’t without their critics. One senior official at a Russell Group university believes the offers will “downgrade the importance of A-levels“, and they have often been characterised as an attempt to steal the best performing students away from elite universities…

Last year Birmingham University, gave out around 1,000 unconditional offers across 12 courses, and for 2014 entry this has been extended to cover 30 subject areas. Has the university gone to ruin?

“I am pleased to say that our confidence was rewarded,” says Roderick Smith, the director of admissions at Birmingham University. “Not only did we see an increased conversion rate from offer to acceptance, but we were also pleased to see that those who received an unconditional offer performed to their potential.”

So are unconditional offers the saviour of the high-performing student? I certainly think so. I am no less motivated to perform well at A-level, and fantasies of doing next year’s revision on Brighton beach give me something to look forward to…

More at: Do unconditional university offers make A-levels pointless?

What do you think about this? Would you like to see more unconditional offers or is there a danger that in turn puts too much emphasis on predicted grades and GCSE performance which might be unfair for some? Please let us have your insights in the comments or via Twitter…

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