Fears over unfair university admissions as AS-levels disappear

The Guardian is reporting on potential issues facing universities in terms of candidate selection after changes to AS levels.

…Reforms to be introduced this year will change the courses students take and the way they are assessed. In many subjects, AS exams – sat at the end of year 12 and a key part of university applications – have been decoupled from A-levels and will no longer make up half of students’ final grades.

Some sixth forms hit by severe funding cuts will not be entering any students for AS-levels. This means the information available to admissions tutors will be patchy and, for some applicants, greatly reduced. Universities have said no students will be disadvantaged by the changes, but details of how they will judge applicants are hazy – and need to be worked out soon.

“The AS is a piece of concrete information about how the candidate is performing, so when you’re making the decision you have a fairly good idea of how they’re doing,” says Angela Milln, director of admissions at Bristol University. The removal of the AS will make things harder for tutors, she says.

Bristol, like many universities, says that if a student does not have an AS-level, it will judge them on GCSE performance, personal statements, teacher predictions and references. Not only will this add to the pressure for teenagers, but it is hardly an ideal way to assess candidates intending to go to university two years or more after GCSEs…

More at: Fears over unfair university admissions as AS-levels disappear


Whether the admissions system will become less fair after these changes is perhaps uncertain, but it is definitely going to be less clear for a while as universities get to grips with new approaches and communicate these to prospective students.

How is it looking from your perspective? Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…


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Categories: Higher Education and Secondary.


  1. teach_well

    SchoolsImprove Um maybe they will do it exactly the way they did before AS Levels. People went to university before they existed…

  2. Yet another reason to reform our antiquated approach to the transition from secondary to higher education, and even the harvest-related term structure. The period between final exams (A2s) and university selection needs to be enough for universities to make offers based on actuals, not forecasts and testimonials. Hence either the university year should be moved to start in January, or final exams taken in the spring. This would allow an extra term for students to complete the entire admissions process, and also receive a term’s real education, with a much broader focus than just passing exams.

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