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Union Calls for Complete Overhaul of University Application Process

Posted by Richard Ward

Image courtesy of Flickr, Creative Commons

A new study undertaken by the University and College Union has found that only 16% of university applicants achieve the grades their teachers predicted.

As a result of the findings, university workers are calling for an overhaul of the UK higher education application system.

The research studied the results of 1.3 million students over a three-year period and found the majority of students applying to university are predicted better results than they actually achieve. In particular, the study found just 16% of applicants' grades were predicted correctly, while three quarters were over-predicted and 9% under-predicted.

Under the current application process, most students apply to university based on their predicted grades, which leads to uncertainty for both students and institutions when results differ from predictions.

Due to the variance between predicted and actual grades, UCU is calling for a new admission system where students apply after they have received their results, which it's argued would create greater certainty for both student and institution. The union also argued it would remove the growing use of unconditional offers, which it described as being unethical.

The research also found that students from disadvantaged backgrounds were the most likely to be underestimated, which in turn leads them to apply to lower tariff institutions for which they were overqualified.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said of the findings: "The results strongly support our call for a complete overhaul of the system, where students apply after they receive their results. It is quite absurd that the UK is the only country that persists in using such a broken system."