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'Unconditional uni offers harm our pupils before they even take their A-levels' Attlee Academy warns

PUBLISHED: 17:00 16 August 2019

Universities under fire from New Cirty college principal Alison Arnaud for offering too many unconditional places. Picture: Mike Brooke

Universities under fire from New Cirty college principal Alison Arnaud for offering too many unconditional places. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mike Brooke

A new A-level academy in Stepney for sixth formers has slammed universities offering unconditional places before students get their results.

New City's principal Arnaud... New City's principal Arnaud... "Unconditional uni offers make students feel it doesn'’t matter what A-level grades they get." Picture: Mike Brooke

The criticism comes in the wake of the Federation of Small Businesses calling on the government to make sure the university admissions are "fair and transparent" to safeguard the integrity of the higher education system.

Predicted grades and unconditional offers risks "undermining the process of university admissions", the federation fears.

Now the principal of the New City College at Poplar and Shoredich, which runs Stepney's new Attlee Academy, has also condemned the university practice.

"Universities are marketing an opportunity," Alison Arnaud told the Advertiser.

New City group's main campus in Poplar which runs Stepney's Attlee A Level Academy. Picture: Mike BrookeNew City group's main campus in Poplar which runs Stepney's Attlee A Level Academy. Picture: Mike Brooke

"Unconditional offers are difficult for institutions like us to gauge their seriousness and to motivate A-level students to do well.

"Our learners may feel it doesn't matter what grades they get, when universities have empty places to fill.

"Some universities have been cynical now the cap on places has been lifted — a learner now represents money to them up to £9,500."

She said the 16-year-olds were being bombarded with offers before they take their final exams with some universities "touting" for them.

The Federation of Small Businesses fears that predicted grades and over-used unconditional offers threaten the university system while putting undue pressure on pupils.

Its London regional chairman Michael Lassman said: "The last government announced a full review was needed to put an end to some practices which undermine the credibility of the admissions process.

"The current system of predicted grades is not accurate and should not be used for admissions. Unconditional offers harm students' grades and trap them from exploring other options."

Only one in 100 pupils received an unconditional offer back in 2013, compared to last year when it shot up to one-in-three, the federation points out.

It wants a system created which doesn't pressurise pupils into making a decision that can lead to under achievement in exams.

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