UK only country to use predicted grades for university admissions, study shows

19 June 2018 | last updated: 20 June 2018

The UK is the only country where predicted grades are used to award university places, a new study for UCU has revealed today.

The Post Qualifications Admissions: How it works around the world report, written by Dr Graeme Atherton, looks at the higher education admissions systems in 30 countries across the globe including Germany, Singapore and the USA. It finds that only England, Wales and Northern Ireland use a system of predicted grades to make offers of university places.

UCU said the new report showed the UK was out of step with the rest of the world on university admissions, and called for an urgent overhaul of the system.

UCU also said the current system of predicted grades encourages the use of unconditional offers, which critics including universities minister Sam Gyimah have said make a mockery of exams and put students under enormous pressure to make snap decisions about their future. Research has also shown that as few as one in six (16%) A-level grades are predicted correctly.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: 'We are alone in the world in using a system where students are offered university places based on highly inaccurate predicted grades. The current system has many failings and many critics, including the universities minister. Unconditional offers have made a mockery of exams and led to inflated grade predictions, while putting students under enormous pressure to make a snap decision about their future.

'The simplest and fairest way to deal with these problems is for us to adopt a system of post-qualification admissions, where offers are based on actual achievement rather than estimated potential, as the rest of the world does. It's time for the government to give the system the urgent overhaul it needs.'

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