UCAS to review higher education entry tariff

9th July 2010 at 01:00
Vocational education looks set to benefit from a root and branch review of the tariff used to determine entry to higher education.

The review, announced last week by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), will examine the methodologies used to generate the tariff and it is expected to conclude that a new system is required.

UCAS said that the review, first developed in 2000 in a bid to ensure comparison between different types of qualifications, would consider whether the tariff is meeting its original aims.

For example, the tariff awards 360 points to the top grade of a BTEC national diploma, meaning it is equivalent to three A-levels at grade A.

Ten years ago, A-levels were the predominate qualification for gaining entry to higher education. By last year, half of applicants from the UK applied with qualifications other than A-levels.

A spokesperson for UCAS said: "The changing qualifications landscape - including the development of more vocational and occupational qualifications, the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF), the emergence of composite qualifications and new complex grading systems - is bringing into question the continuing appropriateness of the UCAS tariff methodology, and the concept of the tariff itself.

"Our intention is to provide our stakeholders with impartial and reliable information about a wide range of qualifications. This must include vocational routes into HE as well as information about international qualifications."

Julian Gravatt, assistant chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said: "Given that colleges provide 40 per cent of the entrants to HE, and not just through vocational qualifications, we are naturally keen to ensure there is a fair process for assessment."

A review steering group will be appointed and will include representatives from further education, HE, schools, awarding organisations and government departments andor agencies.

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