MPs have announced plans to investigate why the number of unconditional offers given to students has increased by more than 1600 percent nationally in the past five years. The Education select committee is looking into the matter as part of a wider debate over the value that university degrees provide.
According to UCAS, just under 3,000 18-year-old UK students (excluding Scotland) were offered unconditional places in 2013, compared to over 51,000 in 2017. Nearly 260,000 sixth form students applied to university in 2017, of which almost 20 percent received an unconditional offer. Additionally, students predicted to receive Cs were more likely to receive unconditional offers than straight A* students, with 10.6 percent of the former awarded unconditional offers compared to 4.6 percent of the latter.
The former universities minister, Lord Willets, claimed the figures were “worrying” and that it could result in students scraping through their A-Levels without “working hard”. Robert Halfon, the chair of the Commons education committee, went further by claiming that the rise in unconditional offers “is diluting the quality of education, and universities are clearly putting the need to secure funding [above standards].”
He later added: “I think part of it is unfortunately just to do with resources and funding; they get the public subsidy from the loan.”
When responding on behalf of the higher education sector, Universities UK said: “Unconditional offers account for a very small proportion of all offers made by universities. “It is simply not in the interests of universities to take students without the potential to succeed at university