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Fast-track route into university studies

STUDENTS could get into university without any A-levels within a few years, following the introduction of the "half A-level", writes Julie Henry.

The author of a well-respected university-entry guide claims less popular courses will be prepared to take undergraduates on the basis of their AS qualifications, gained after only a year of study. But Brian Heap also said that to win a place in 2002, particularly at over-subscribed universities, students should concentrate on the traditional three A-levels.

The overhaul of post-16 study came into effect last September. A-levels were split into two separate years of study and students were encourage to take up to five AS subjects in their first year. Vocational A-levels, a replacement for GNVQs, were introduced. Key skills qualifications, which can earn up to 30 university entry points, are also now taught in most schools.

Launching the 32nd edition of his guide, Mr Heap said there was huge confusion among university admission tutors about the new curriculumand the points tariff.

"Universities now have to deal with students applying for the same subject with different qualifications. The offers which universities make will depend on what you are applying for and where. The less popular the course, the more flexible the admissions policy."

To study French at Warwick University, for instance, students need BBC at A-level, plus grade C at AS-level, or CC plus BBC at AS-level. However, in the Buckingham University prospectus, there are no offers listed at all for the course.

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service claims figures due out next month will show that 70 per cent of universities plan to make offers based on entrance points, rather than specific grades, which give credit for AS-levels and key skills.

Universities report a drop in the number of students at open days in April and May. Revision for AS exams has taken precedence, said Mr Heap.

'Degree Course Offers 2002', by Brian Heap, published by Trotman, price pound;21.99.

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