MPs to probe universities’ unconditional offers

The BBC reports that MPs are to review whether students applying to universities are being offered unconditional places in order to secure their fees. The number of unconditional offers made by universities rose more than 17-fold in five years.

Robert Halfon, Conservative chair of the Education Select Committee, said he was “very concerned” about the issue.

“It’s one of the reasons why our committee is doing a value-for-money inquiry into universities and higher education.

“I think that the universities want the courses filled; they get the public subsidy from the loan. I think that’s why they are making these unconditional offers and why they’ve increased so greatly,” he added.

Critics say unconditional offers are bad for students because some neglect their revision, while some accept offers that are not really right for them and later drop out.

Clare Marchant, the chief executive of UCAS, said: “It’s one to keep an eye on, because if it increases more, we need to think about what impact that has over a couple of years in terms of predicted A-level grades and actual A-level grades.”

BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours programme spoke to one sixth-form head who said: “This is a form of bribery. This is a university, for whatever reason, saying to a teenager, ‘Choose us as your first offer and we will accept you on to our course, including the £27,000 worth of tuition fees that your place brings with you, and you don’t necessarily need to sit the exams in the summer.'”

Read more MPs to probe universities’ unconditional offers

Have unconditional passes for your students increased recently? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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