Today’s Education in the Media blog looks at the rise of unconditional offers being offered to applicants by universities.
Today, Thursday 26 July, UCAS published a report on the number of unconditional offers being offered by universities. This has received coverage from BBC News, The Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph and the Daily Mail.
The UCAS report shows that 22.9 per cent of 18 year old university applicants in England, Northern Ireland and Wales received at least one unconditional offer this year. This is a rise of 29 per cent on 2017.
We welcome this report and the increased transparency of data surrounding admissions. It is important to highlight this issue, as increased unconditional offers runs the risk of admitting students who will not benefit from the courses they get on, and can lead to applicants making the wrong decisions for their futures. Universities are responsible for their own admissions policy but have to ensure that they are offering places to students who have the right skill-sets and abilities to be a success on the courses they take. Universities will be neglecting this responsibility by handing out unconditional offers at the rate currently being seen.
Universities Minister Sam Gyimah said:
The rise in unconditional offers is completely irresponsible to students and universities must start taking a lead, by limiting the number they offer.
Places at universities should only be offered to those who will benefit from them, and giving out unconditional offers just to put ‘bums on seats’ undermines the credibility of the university system.
Along with the Office for Students, I am closely monitoring the number being issued and fully expect the regulator to take appropriate action. Unconditional offers risk distracting students from the final year of their schooling, and swaying their decisions does them a disservice – universities must act in the interest of students, not in filling spaces.