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Admissions Review to Ensure a ‘System Which Works for all Students’
March 3, 2020
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A major review, launched today by the Office for Students (OfS), poses fundamental questions for the future of higher education admissions.

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The OfS is seeking the views of students, staff at universities and colleges, schools and all those with an interest in education, on a range of issues relating to university and college admissions.

The review will consider how the admissions system works for all students, whether they are studying full or part-time for an undergraduate or postgraduate degree, whatever their age.

The consultation asks for respondents to consider issues including:

  • the use and accuracy of predicted grades and personal statements in undergraduate admissions
  • the role of contextual information in admissions for students from disadvantaged backgrounds
  • the use of unconditional offers, which have increased significantly in recent years
  • the use of incentives and inducements in the admissions process across undergraduate and postgraduate study, and providers’ approach to marketing their courses
  • the overarching transparency, fairness and effectiveness of the system for all students.

Three future options for reform of the system are set out in full in the consultation. In brief, they comprise:

  1. Retaining the current system with reforms: if the system is seen as generally working well, one option would be to consider a series of reforms to improve it further which could have a significant benefit for students. Consideration may be given to how the use of contextual admissions can be increased; whether to retain personal statements and ensure greater transparency around entry requirements and how applications are assessed.
  2. Post-qualifications offers for full-time undergraduate admissions: under this option applications would be sent to providers at broadly the same time as they are now. However, offers would only be made after students receive their A-levels (or other equivalent qualification).
  3. Post-qualification applications for full-time undergraduate admissions: various models for this option exist. The OfS sets out one where students might register their interest in particular higher education providers ahead of receiving their results, but wait until they had their results to complete their application.

Respondents are also asked to suggest any other system, or whether a combination of options would best improve the admissions system for full-time undergraduates as well as how the admissions system can be improved more broadly, for all students on all courses. 

The OfS is not proposing a preferred model for the future, recognising that any fundamental changes would require significant cooperation and coordination with a wide range of bodies with an interest in education. Rather, it is using its role as the regulator for higher education in England to help generate debate and discussion about ways in which the admissions system could be made fairer, and help ensure that students from all backgrounds are able to get the most from their studies. The OfS will examine next steps from this autumn.

Commenting, Sir Michael Barber, chair of the OfS, said:

‘There is widespread recognition that certain aspects of the current admissions system are not working, and may be especially unfair on students from disadvantaged backgrounds. A review of admissions is also being carried out by Universities UK, and UCAS are exploring reforms to the admissions process. We will look to work closely with them – and everyone with an interest in the system – as we look forensically at changes that can shape our admissions system in a way which is matched to the needs, achievements and potential of students from all backgrounds.

‘This is fundamentally an open consultation and a genuine attempt to seek views from as wide a range of respondents as possible. Any changes to how and when students apply and receive offers will be complex. They will require the agreement of policy-makers, universities and colleges, examination boards and schools – and will need to demonstrably be in the interests of future students.  We want to use our powers to convene, to consult and to discuss how we can arrive at a system of admissions where the interests of all students are paramount.

New UCAS Hub Provides Students with Information and Advice

More than a third of students applying to university are setting their sights higher after using the new UCAS Hub, which brings together information and advice on all their options for life after school in one dynamic place.

It is a personalised, digital space for young people considering their post-18 choices, as well as anyone thinking about returning to education.

In a survey of those who have used the Hub so far, 39 per cent said they are now considering universities with higher entry requirements.

The Hub is designed for exploration and reflection – meant for students to return to time and time again while they make, what could be, their first life-defining decision. Most respondents agreed they would keep coming back as new features are added in the coming months and years.

Nearly three quarters (73 per cent) of students are now thinking of applying to universities or colleges they hadn’t previously considered, with 65 per cent saying the Hub has expanded their knowledge of the subjects on offer at undergraduate level.

60 per cent said the Hub has made them actively think about an option that they weren’t initially considering, whether that be a different university or college, a new subject or an apprenticeship. A quarter of students specifically said they would now think about applying for an apprenticeship instead of, or as well as, a degree.

Alternative careers are also being weighed up, with almost half of students saying the Hub has helped them to reflect on their future, for when they have completed their undergraduate course.

Clare Marchant, UCAS’ Chief Executive, said: ‘A new day has dawned as personalised information and advice arrives for all students with the UCAS Hub.

 ‘We want to turn the research process on its head. Rather than having to seek out information and advice, then create an application, our new Hub will instead encourage students to reflect and define what’s important to them and their future, with relevant information and ideas being offered.

 ‘The Hub gives students the opportunity to explore everything in one place. We’re already seeing them taking the time to delve into all available pathways and discovering the exciting routes on offer. As an independent charity, we’re well placed to offer impartial advice for students, and the Hub will help them navigate the roads ahead.’

Chris Skidmore, Universities Minister, said: ‘Students now have a wealth of different and exciting paths they can take after 18, and the new UCAS Hub provides those applying for university access to the best information and guidance for their future.

 ‘The Hub is not just about helping students with their applications, it is about encouraging them to aim higher and think about what they really want to get out of their future career.’

Shaun Hiscox, current student at the University of South Wales and member of UCAS’ Student Advisory Group, said: ‘I think the Hub looks fantastic. The accessible design provides an effortless transition between different sections, and the colourful style removes a sense of formality that was felt before.

 ‘The step-by-step process is wonderful and will help applicants stay focused. The ability to select by area and local landmarks is attractive as someone may want to live in the city and study in a busier environment, as opposed to someone else, who’d like to study near a beach. The whole overhaul looks amazing!’

Jo Moore, Progression & Employability Adviser at Exeter College said: “My team will be encouraging students to use the UCAS Hub this cycle, as having all the information, personal statement help, and courses in one place is really useful.

‘It’s a brilliant system to which I look forward to seeing progress in the future. Good job UCAS!’

UCAS Launches New Adviser Portal as University Applications for 2020 go Live

Teachers and careers advisers have begun using a brand new UCAS portal, transforming the way they manage and track their students’ university and college applications, as the 2020 cycle launches today

The new UCAS adviser portal replaces Apply for Advisers and Adviser Track, giving teachers complete, real-time oversight of their students’ UCAS Undergraduate applications in one place for free.

There are 6,300 UCAS registered centres (mainly schools and colleges) worldwide who will be using the new service. Around two-thirds of the 700,000 undergraduate applications submitted each year are sent through a registered centre. Purchase Order or a correctly authorised contract.

UCAS: Apprentices’ Rights and Responsibilities
April 9, 2019
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The following is an extract from the UCAS Website

 

Apprentices have the same rights as other employees.

You are entitled to a contract of employment, and a minimum of 20 days paid leave each year, plus bank holidays. You will work at least 30 hours per week with your employer, and undertake part-time study through a mixture of day/block release, distance, and e-learning.

Your employer and university, college, or training provider will set out details of what they will provide and what they expect from you as an apprentice, both as an employee and as a student, in two key documents.

Read more

UCAS: Advice for Parents and Guardians

UCAS’ aim is to help students make informed choices that are right for them, by guiding them through the entire higher education application process and beyond.

To support this, UCAS provides a wide range of valuable information and services for applicants, their parents, and teachers. Applicants can use www.ucas.com to find out how to get started, research their options, make their application, and track its progress. There’s information especially for parents at www.ucas.com/parents, including details of the application process, a host of helpful video guides, and a link to sign up for our monthly parent newsletters.

What is Which? University? Which? University is a website designed to help students make the right higher education decision for them, and is brought to you by the consumer champion Which?. It’s free, independent, takes no advertising, and brings together all the official facts and stats about degree courses, combined with unbiased expert advice and analysis.
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Head to www.which.co.uk/university to explore the website and sign up for our free email alerts at www.which.co.uk/parentemails, packed with timely advice ahead of key decisions.

Sign up for the Parent Newsletter https://web.ucas.com/parents-signup

Download the 2018 Parent Guide UCAS Parent Guide 2018