Sam Gyimah has told HuffPost UK he is concerned about a sharp rise in institutions making no demand for applicants to hit certain grades in order to secure a place on a university course.
The Government wants a clampdown on the practice, because students stop “working as hard as they should” when the no-strings-attached offers arrive, he said.
“The reason why universities make an offer based on grades is that it is a way of ensuring that the student is capable of the higher learning that is expected of them at a university,” said Gyimah.
UCAS, the universities admissions service, has recorded a 40% rise in unconditional offers in the last admissions cycle alone, but the climb since 2012 has been dramatic.
While UK universities made just a few hundred in the years to 2012, the number of unconditional offers rose to 2,985 in 2013-14, 36,825 in 2014-15 and 51,615 last year – a rise of more than 1,600% over five years. Unconditional offers are now given in response to 5% of applications.
Gyimah said universities have a duty to test whether a student is able before allowing them to enroll and a reformed careers advice service should investigate whether higher education was “appropriate” for those applying.
“If you speak to a lot of sixth form teachers, for example, they will tell you that when students get unconditional offers, some of them just stop learning and engaging and working as hard for their A Levels as they should – and I don’t think that is right.”
Read the full interview Gifted students flunking A levels due to flood of unconditional offers – Universities Minister
Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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