The government has condemned universities for using “unethical” selling tactics to pressure tens of thousands of sixth-formers a year into accepting university places which may not be right for them. The Independent reports.
Education secretary Damian Hinds is calling for a review of university admissions following a surge in the number of students being offered a place on a degree regardless of their exam grades.
The use of “conditional unconditional offers”, where a university tells students they are guaranteed a place but only if they make it their first choice, is harming students’ attainment, ministers warn.
Mr Hinds is writing to 23 of the worst-offending universities, including a Russell Group institution, urging them to stamp out “pressure-selling tactics” which back students into a corner.
The University of Birmingham, a member of the prestigious Russell Group, is one of the institutions Mr Hinds is writing to after it made 4,750 conditional unconditional offers to 18-year-olds in 2018.
“It is simply unacceptable for universities to adopt pressure-selling tactics, which are harming students’ grades in order to fill places,” Mr Hinds has said. “It is not what I expect to see from our world-class higher education institutions.”
Already at least two universities that Mr Hinds is reaching out to – the University of Roehampton and Aston University – have announced that they will no longer be making these offers.
Now more than one in three sixth-formers receive at least one unconditional offer, compared to just 1.1 per cent in 2013.
Students who accept unconditional offers are proportionally 7 per cent more likely to miss their predicted A-levels by two grades than students with conditional offers.
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