Universities to hand out fewer unconditional offers

For years, numbers of unconditional offers issued by universities in the UK have been steadily rising, contributing to regular interventions from figures in government, most recently Education secretary Gavin Williamson, who stated that unconditional offers lower attainment by making recipients of such offers less likely to achieve their predicted grades. However, a UCAS forecast for 2020 predicts that perhaps some three quarters of universities will no longer be issuing unconditional offers. An unconditional offer allows a place for a student if they achieve certain final grades, but if the university is selected as the first choice, grade requirements are dropped and the student is guaranteed a place.

The rise of unconditional offers is often blamed on an increasing need from universities to fill places in order secure continual funding. In 2019, roughly a quarter of offers issued were unconditional, compared to less than a tenth in 2014. The news from UCAS suggests that in response to government and public pressure, universities may move to other tactics to secure student numbers. Already, universities such as York and Brighton have stated that they will not be offering unconditional offers to any students this year.


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Harry Routley

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September 2021
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