Hopefuls who have to waste their time

24th February 1995 at 00:00
A post A-level application procedure for entry to university might favour students like Claire Brown.

The 18-year-old from Beauchamp College, Leicester, has applied to read veterinary science but only four English universities - London, Cambridge, Liverpool and Bristol - offer the course.

Miss Brown has already received rejections from two, although one has intimated that if she achieves her projected three grade As it may yet take her in.

She has also been turned down to do equine sciences because, she said, it must have been obvious to admissions tutors she was considering this as a back-up if her applications for veterinary science failed.

She said the present admissions system has left her feeling "like I have hit a brick wall".

Miss Brown said: "At the moment I don't really know how things will turn out or what is going on. If I did achieve my three As and was able to apply after the results came out I might have stood more of a chance."

Her colleagues agree the existing system needs revamping. Kathryn Ashton, who wants to study French, Arabic and international relations at St Andrew's, said applying to eight institutions was "a waste of everyone's time".

Miss Ashton said: "I applied to all these places and I have no intention at all of going to five of them, so I have wasted their time in administering my application and my own and my tutor's in filling in the forms. The whole process is time-consuming."

Alex Avery, who plans to study history of art at Leeds or Manchester universities, has had complaints from one of her teachers that she has missed lessons on Wednesdays, the busiest day of her week, attending open days and interviews.

She said: "I have missed part of a section of one of my courses. The teacher had words with me about it out of concern that I was missing so much, but I had to attend the interview. What could I do? If this was happening after the A-level results it wouldn't have mattered."

But Sidhartha Singh is concerned that a revised admissions system might become too computerised and impersonal. He said: "The whole point is to meet them and for them to see you. I don't like the idea of a computer making choices solely on your grades."

About 80 per cent of the 300 upper sixth formers at Beauchamp College go on to some form of higher education.

Tony Cutting, head of sixth form, said the application process needed changing to remove the need for the clearing system, which he described as a "lottery, down to persistence, a large telephone bill and pot luck, a very messy arrangement".

Pupils are discouraged from entering for the Oxford entrance examination (abolished earlier this month) because the school does not have the resources to devote time to its preparation. The school normally sends one or two students to Oxford, but the vast majority get in by satisfying conditional offers.

Mr Cutting said: "I do not see why students with an additional piece of paper should have preference other those who achieve equally good A-level results. "

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