UCU calls for end to unconditional offers after massive increase

25 July 2018 | last updated: 26 July 2018

Almost a quarter of students applying to university received at least one unconditional offer in 2018, compared to just 1% five years ago, according to new analysis

UCU said the time had come for a complete overhaul of university admissions to get rid of unconditional offers. The union said the UK should adopt the system preferred in the rest of the world where students apply to university after they receive their exam results.

The report from UCAS shows that 58,385 (22.9%) of 18-year-olds in England, Wales and Northern Ireland applying to university received at least one unconditional offer in 2018 compared to just 2,570 (1.1%) in 2013. The total number of unconditional offers made to those students* in 2013 was 2,985 (0.4% of all offers), compared to 67,915 this year (7.1% of all offers).

UCU said making students apply before they received their results encouraged the use and proliferation of unconditional offers. The union says unconditional offers make a mockery of exams and put students under enormous pressure to make snap decisions about their future. Universities minister Sam Gyimah is among those who have criticised unconditional offers. Research shows that as few as one in six (16%) A-level grades are predicted correctly.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: 'The proliferation of unconditional offers is detrimental to the interests of students and it is time the UK joined the rest of the world in basing university offers on actual achievements instead on guesswork.

'Unconditional offers have made a mockery of exams and put students under enormous pressure to make a snap decision about their future. They can also encourage talented students to take their foot off the gas, instead of striving for excellence.'

* 18-year-olds in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

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