Elite private schools have called for universities to cut back on the use of unconditional offers for undergraduate places over fears that pupils will not be motivated to strive for high A-level grades. The Guardian reports.
Mike Buchanan, the executive director of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC), which represents many of the country’s most expensive independent schools, claimed that pupils “take their foot off the gas” after accepting offers that do not require specific A-level grades.
“I am asking universities to stop using them unless they have interviewed the pupil and got some sense that it would be good for this pupil, or have consulted the school, which has given you the same information,” Buchanan, the former headteacher of Ashford School in Kent, told the Times newspaper.
While there is little recent evidence to show whether pupils with unconditional offers achieve disappointing final grades, private school heads have long been hostile because of the potential impact on their school’s results and league table rankings.
Some employers pay close attention to A-level grades in recruiting for graduate trainee programmes, meaning that students who underperform may later struggle in the job market.
Figures from Ucas, the university applications administrator, show that 7% of the 950,000 offers made this year were unconditional, with about a fifth of the 250,000 applicants to English universities receiving at least one unconditional offer.
Ucas said the offers were more common for older students who already held qualifications, to creative arts course applicants who submit portfolios or attend auditions, and for students with mental health difficulties.
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