The University of Nottingham has confirmed that it will end the controversial admissions policy of unconditional offers from this September.

This follows the release of statistics showing that Nottingham is the second highest provider of unconditional offers throughout Russell Group universities, with over 11 percent of offers standing as such.

A spokeswoman for the university has said ‘with many applicants now receiving three or more unconditional offers from different universities, Nottingham’s use of unconditional offers to demonstrate the university’s faith in particularly talented applicants is no longer relevant’.

The practice was criticised last summer when it emerged that nearly a quarter of applicants received such offers nationally.

The Office for Students (OfS) has expressed particular displeasure in the ‘conditional unconditional’ offer, whereby the university will offer a place unconditionally if the student makes that university their first choice. One in three sixth-formers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland now receive at least one unconditional offer.

As many as 117,000 unconditional offers were made last year compared to just 5,000 three years ago; the University of Nottingham made 2,925 in 2018.

The use of unconditional offers is controversial among school leaders, who say they disrupt pupils’ efforts. However, these concerns are not necessarily supported by UCAS data which shows that students holding unconditional offers were only marginally less likely to achieve their predicted grades than those with conditional offers.

UCAS justifies the use of unconditional offers on their website citing ‘those applying for creative art courses’ would benefit as ‘artistic flair is likely to be viewed as a better indication of potential than traditional grades’.

Furthermore, holding an unconditional offer would ‘reduce the stress some students may feel during the high-pressure exam period, supporting students with mental health difficulties’. The proposed alternative to the unconditional offer is to have students select their choice of universities after they receive their A-Level grades ensuring offers are made based on ability and not predicted capability.


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