End in sight for university race

The Lottery of university admissions will be abolished under radical reforms due to be recommended by vice-chancellors.

Their report will advocate a new system in which students apply for university courses only after they receive their A-level results. The scheme is based on the early announcement of results, coupled with advances in information technology that can quickly match students' results with the courses they have chosen.

At a stroke, the plans would end the current scramble for places based on students' predicted grades, saving thousands of pounds in administration costs and hours of heartache for candidates.

Most sixth-formers would apply for only two university places, as the entry requirements would be known in advance.

The scheme requires sacrifices from both schools, who must organise examinations earlier, and examining boards, who will be required to handle the results later and faster.

A draft report, commissioned by the Committee for Vice-Chancellors and Principals, is due to be circulated to schools and universities before the end of term.

The precise details on post-qualification applications are still being revised by a committee working group.

But Tony Higgins, the chief executive of the Universities and Colleges Admission Service, told The TES: "They are looking at compressing the whole university admissions process into a period between June and September.

"This will enable people to express interest in various courses in the period starting in June, but they would not actually make the formal application until they have their A-level results, which may be published slightly earlier. "

Professor Brian Smith of Cardiff University, the chairman of the working group, said: "The proposals are quite clear. If you can make decisions when people have completed their examinations, you can fit people more appropriately into institutions where they want to go and into institutions that want them. There will be an appropriate match."

State-school pupils get better degrees, page 6

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