Unconditional offers under review

You may remember your final year of school, the stress and worry that can be caused by waiting for university offers.

Thousands of students every year are faced with an excruciating wait while universities consider applications for places, but the type of offers that universities make looks like it’s changing.

An unconditional offer for a university place is the guarantee of a place on a course regardless of A Level results, which takes a great deal of stress off the shoulders of students.

However, it is argued that unconditional offers are detrimental to a student’s grades.

With less stress and pressure, some say that pupils will tend to take their foot off the pedal when it comes to revision, which can lead to lower grades at A Level.

The number of unconditional offers being offered by UK universities has increased 17-fold in the past five years, which has led MPs to question universitiesí motives behind the way they make offers.

Some people, including Robert Halfon, Conservative chair of the Education Select Committee and the man in charge of an ongoing review into the value-for-money of universities, think that the increase is to do with funding.

With every new student, the university receives the tuition fees, as well as a certain amount of public funding.

MPs are worried that universities may be trying to fill spaces on courses to maximise the amount of money they get each year.

So how does UEA fit into this? Well, when asked whether UEA has increased the number of unconditionals being offered, Alix Delaney, UEAís Head of Admissions had this to say: “Unconditional offers account for a very small proportion of all offers, around 7 percent each year.”

She also stated that this percentage didnít look set to change in the coming academic year.

UEA’s Vice Chancellor Professor David Richardson said: “Personally I believe that the balance of funding between state and student needs to be reviewed and I would support the return to maintenance grants for students.”

We will have to wait until the ongoing value for money in higher education enquiry comes to a conclusion to see what the Education Select Committee has to say on the issue.

They have been gathering evidence from lecturers, Vice-Chancellors and university staff for the past few months.

The review is expected to come to a conclusion later this year.


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Matthew Denton