The admissions service is due to unveil two new options for reform in the coming weeks – both of which it says would have a far-reaching impact and better support students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Full details on the two models being proposed will be published in the coming weeks.
The introduction of a so-called post-qualification offers model would mean that all students, including those on technical and vocational routes, would receive offers from their chosen universities and colleges on the same day after getting their final qualification results in the summer.
Students would then not be giving up a potential place until their grades were known and would retain the long selection window in the prior months, which, according to Ucas, allows time to support students with disabilities and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Ucas said a post-qualification application model would be put up for discussion, which sees all students apply and receive offers after receiving their qualification results. The university term would then need to begin in January.
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Clare Marchant, Ucas’ chief executive, said: “Now is the time to take a serious look at reforming the admissions timetable, which we have been doing over the last few months with universities, colleges, students, and schools. There are two options for reform that could work practically and aim to improve fairness for students, as well as eradicate problems for applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds that have become ingrained into the current admissions process.
“It is absolutely crucial though that we limit any unintended consequences of such major change. Ucas is ready to innovate and we look forward to sharing full details in the coming weeks, and working with colleagues from across the education sector in the UK to develop these ideas further.”
John Cope, director of strategy, policy, and public affairs at Ucas, said: “Discussion about the future of admission systems is not solely focused on entry to three-year undergraduate courses offered by universities. At UCAS, we support 700,000 students on their applications to nearly 400 universities and colleges, across a broad range of provision, including small and specialist provision and increasingly apprenticeships.
“The debate about admissions reform is part of a broader discussion we need about promoting student choice and ensuring all options – from degrees to apprenticeships to vocational and technical qualifications – are available in a single location allowing students to make fully informed choices.”