'Lecturers want pupils to apply after A levels'

(62 Posts)
ErrolTheDragon Mon 14-Jan-19 09:32:22

Article in The Times today, saying that lecturers want a change in the university application process.


Do you think it's a good idea?

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MariaNovella Mon 14-Jan-19 09:35:31

No, it’s a terrible idea. The beauty of the current system is that Year 12 is the year for research into courses and Year 13 the year for concentrating on exams. Combining the two (ashapoens in some other countries) means a very intense and fraught year as children are overloaded with the stress of doing both at once.

ErrolTheDragon Mon 14-Jan-19 09:46:32

Maybe the idea of 'making expressions of interest' in up to 12 in the January is supposed to encourage them to do their research before that? 12 seems rather a lot though. 5 allows for a decent spread of choices. Maybe they should still apply to 5 by January (ideally perhaps just after mocks to give the best estimation of their likely results) but then the offers shouldn't be made till post results?

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LadyGregorysToothbrush Mon 14-Jan-19 11:26:02

Misleading headline. “Lecturers” don’t want this change, as far as I can see. It’s not clear who the union have consulted on this, and the response on academic twitter has been universally negative, as far as I can see.

user2222018 Mon 14-Jan-19 12:14:20

Indeed, most lecturers don't think this change is feasible.

Even if students apply after results, there still have to be interviews at the top selective university courses. And only once these places are decided can those further down the pecking order make offers. I just cannot see how this can be done in a 6 week period after the results come out, in time for students to start even in November. The only way it would work logistically is if students started in January - but then there would be complaints of the "gap".

This is by the way leaving aside the issue of holding university interviews for the top courses in August/early September. (Not sure most students' families would be terrifically keen on interviews during the summer vacation period, having to hold those weeks free just in case.)

MariaNovella Mon 14-Jan-19 13:08:52

user - yes, your points raise similar issues to mine. The university application process is lengthy and timetables the way it is for a reason: so that it doesn’t coincide with other stuff.

CowJumping Mon 14-Jan-19 15:24:08

This is by the way leaving aside the issue of holding university interviews for the top courses in August/early September

Most academics (and I’m one of them) take holidays in August as it’s anout the only time we can take more than 4or 5 days in succession. And I know I’m speaking at about 3 research conferences all set up for late August/early September.

We already work way over the hours were paid for. So there would need to be a significant reorganisation of the University academic year in order to accommodate this change

It’s not a bad idea in principle but the logistics need to be thought through with due regard to scademics’ health and stress levels (and pigs might fly).


CowJumping Mon 14-Jan-19 15:25:52

Oh, and I work in a highly selective department which interviews. That’s an important part of the process for us, and we notice if we have a part of the cohort who didn’t come in that way (eg came through Adjustment).

NotAnotherJaffaCake Mon 14-Jan-19 15:29:28

I strongly suspect this is in response to A level students slacking off when they get very low and unconditional offers from universities who need bums on seats. If offers aren’t out until after results, then Students can’t afford to bomb their A levels.

noblegiraffe Mon 14-Jan-19 15:32:11

I reckon it’s in response to predicted grades being wrong in the vast majority of cases and the loss of AS results as any sort of externally assessed benchmark of aptitude.

MariaNovella Mon 14-Jan-19 15:33:46

CowJumping - do you mean that the students who come through adjustment are less good than the others?

CottonSock Mon 14-Jan-19 15:35:26

Yes. I did this when I applied as had no idea of my grade outcome or what I wanted to do. This was 25 years ago. I had already planned to take a gap year fortunately

FlipF Mon 14-Jan-19 16:12:02

I’m fully in favour of it. The current system is for the vast majority of student based on predicted grades even though predicted grades are more often wrong than not. Either you want to awarding places at university based on ability or you don’t. 🤷🏻‍♀️

I know it wouldn’t be easy to implement but I think it would be much fairer and less stressful for students.

The current system works well for top Unis - they have the time and money to organize their own tests and interviews. Also, predicted grades are known to be far more accurate for the top students than for students predicted lower grades(Ie the VAST majority of students)

HarryTheSteppenwolf Mon 14-Jan-19 17:27:09

Also, predicted grades are known to be far more accurate for the top students than for students predicted lower grades (ie the VAST majority of students)

No, they're inaccurate for both. The difference is that they are more likely to be inaccurately high for students in high-achieving schools and more likely to be inaccurately low for students in low-achieving schools. Last August we had practically no applicants meeting their (very high) predicted grades.

Given that actual grades are also inaccurate, however - see www.hepi.ac.uk/2019/01/14/7071/#comments - it is perhaps a bit on an angels-dancing-on-a-pinhead kind of argument.

SnuggyBuggy Mon 14-Jan-19 17:32:34

Id worry with it being such a rush there would be more students making bad decisions and the drop out rate would go up.

SalrycLuxx Mon 14-Jan-19 17:37:50

It’s a bloody awful idea that would destroy the minuscule dedicated research time that DH has left. He’s stressed enough with the insane amount of hours he has to do.

Witchend Mon 14-Jan-19 19:53:53

I'm not sure it would help disadvantaged pupils though.

On average, disadvantaged pupils tend to get lower results and I think that actually having the results might well be harder to choose the pupil who has got lower results, even if they know they're disadvantaged.
They're also disproportionally likely to be trying to work to get money over the summer, so have less time to spend on applications.

When dm applied it was common to apply in 3rd year 6th, I wonder whether a year of (compulsory) community/national service where you would apply would work?

I don't think you can fairly even out discrepancies. How do you compare between the pupil who has 5 A* at A-levels with full private education and supportive parents and ABB for the child (like my dad) whose parents really thought education after 16 yo was a waste of time, and they are having to work 3 jobs a week to pay for bus fares and things they need for college?

You could look at it that the ABB has much more potential. But you can't actually tell that. And the child whose got 5x A* may have had every advantage, but may still have more potential.

Then you get the child who goes to a state school, but whose parents have paid for tutoring the whole way up; or the private school applicant whose grandparents have actually paid for the education and parents who think it's a waste of time and been constantly awkward about anything academic and actually the private school is pretty rubbish...

Although I think there is an unfair disadvantage, that if anything is going to get worse, I'm not sure it can be solved so easily.

FlipF Mon 14-Jan-19 20:25:11

Id worry with it being such a rush there would be more students making bad decisions and the drop out rate would go up

Last year about 60,000 students were accepted to Uni via clearing. Thats a lot of students (and admissions staff!) who are already making very last minute decisions.

KoshaMangsho Mon 14-Jan-19 20:27:44

It would destroy my research time. But it’s how we apply to University in India so as a system I am not unfamiliar with it.
It would require our centralised admissions people to work v hard in a v short period of time.

cantkeepawayforever Mon 14-Jan-19 20:33:13

As someone whose child has just been through the UCAS conservatoires route, complete with auditions / interviews for every institution applied to, I really can't see that working for the - admittedly small - number of students taking this type of route. At the moment, application and auditions roughly overlap with uuniversity applcations (especially Oxbridge) but a process by which all music / drama / dance etc applicants apply in October and all their peers in July / August doesn't seem feasible - but nor does 5-6 auditions in a month after a-levels...

Acopyofacopy Mon 14-Jan-19 20:36:03

Application after A-levels works perfectly fine in other countries where students study a lot more than 3 subjects and still have the time to research what to study at university.

It would take out the insane pressure students are under to achieve their fictional predicted grades while at the same time stopping those with unconditional offers from taking their foot off the gas.

springtimeyet Mon 14-Jan-19 20:41:52

Maybe English students need to take A levels a year earlier and then have a final year where they could cram additional courses or take resits or a type of A level plus.
I applied to English Unis, years ago now with my higher results in 5 year. I had time to do more courses if needed, attend my interviews etc. I thought it was a much better system than the a level students I ended up with. My 6 th year was a top up only year.

titchy Mon 14-Jan-19 21:30:29

How about a system where English students take exams at the end of the first year of Sixth form in the subjects they want to continue with, and use those results as a basis for predicting their final grades.

Maybe if those exams actually formed part of the final grade that would be an even better indication of academic potential.

We could call these exams something like Advanced Subsidiary, or AS...

Maybe I'll suggest that to the DofE

BackforGood Mon 14-Jan-19 23:34:44

grin Titchy

ErrolTheDragon Tue 15-Jan-19 00:08:15

Go for it, Titchy. Except may I suggest rather than :
'How about a system where English students take exams at the end of the first year of Sixth form in the subjects they want to continue with, and use those results as a basis for predicting their final grades. ' they could take an extra subject or two to this level before deciding what to concentrate on - so as to allow broader education and not limit their university options too soon?

I know it's a novel concept but I think it could work.

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