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Admissions plan

The proposals to introduce a system of selection for university to take place after A-level results after 1997 are likely to alarm people advising future applicants.

Many will be concerned about the problems of finding accommodation in the short gap between results and the start of term. Others will be anxious to know whether the system will work efficiently to provide students with choice and to provide access to students with non-traditional qualifications. Students and their families need reassurances that post A-level selection will provide positive benefits.

Too many changes at all levels of education have been introduced with inadequate resources and preparation, and have failed to achieve their goals. A new admissions system must not be seen as a way of obtaining a cut-price allocation of students to courses but must allow space for the consideration of individual applicants, their needs and questions. It has to balance discretion to admissions tutors to consider individual applicants with clarity and openness on the criteria for entry. At the same time, admissions tutors are under pressure to meet targets with increasing accuracy. These demands require a complex system which must be introduced with care and consultation.

It is important that these changes should not be introduced until admissions staff, school teachers and college lecturers are satisfied that the resources and procedures are in place to make the new system work efficiently.

ANN COTTERRELL

Assistant secretary

NATFHE

27 Britannia Street

London WC1

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