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UCU response to HEPI report on university admissions

18 March 2021 | last updated: 19 March 2021

UCU said the current university admissions system is not fit for purpose, as it disadvantages students from less affluent backgrounds. UCU said moving to post-qualification admissions (PQA) is the best way to address the system's fundamental unfairness.

UCU was responding to 'Where next for university admissions?', a report from the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI).

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'HEPI's report risks muddying what is at its core a simple issue; that the current university admissions system is based largely on guesswork and rigged in favour of the most affluent students. Those from disadvantaged backgrounds are the least likely to have their grades predicted correctly and this is fundamentally unfair. Moving to a post-qualification admission model will help level the playing field.

'Now is the time for bold reform which supports applicants to make better informed choices, not more inaction or minor tweaks to the current model. Students have shown during the pandemic that they won't simply sit back and accept a system they believe to be unfair. Moving to a simpler system of post-qualification admissions, underpinned by better information and advice, is in everyone's interest.'

UCU has previously shown how a PQA system would be fairer for students, as it would eradicate the need for controversial unconditional offers and bring the whole of the UK into line with the rest of the world when it comes to university admissions.

A survey of university applicants found that over half (56%) felt universities should only make offers after people receive their results. Support for students applying after they get their results was highest amongst traditionally hard to reach groups such as Black and minority ethnic students, and those who were the first in their family to go to university.

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