Students could get university offers after they receive their A-level results following a review into university admissions launched today.
Vice-chancellors are behind the idea of post-qualification offers, with one senior figure in higher education saying they are "looking seriously" at this as an option, according to a report in The Times.
Students and staff at universities and schools will be asked questions on issues such as the increasing use of conditional offers and accuracy of predicted grades as part of the Office for Students (OfS) review.
It considers three options for future university admissions, including a post A-level result offers system.
Sir Michael Barber, chairman of the OfS, said: "There is widespread recognition that certain aspects of the current admissions system are not working and may be especially unfair on students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
"This is fundamentally an open consultation and a genuine attempt to seek views from as wide a range of respondents as possible.
"Any changes to how and when students apply and receive offers will be complex, and they will require the agreement of policy-makers, universities and colleges, examination boards and schools – and will need to demonstrably be in the interests of future students.
"We want to use our powers to convene, to consult and to discuss how we can arrive at a system of admissions where the interests of all students are paramount."
Universities minister Michelle Donelan said: "Our world-leading universities should be open to everyone with the potential.
"It is therefore vital that their admissions processes are transparent and work in students' best interests.
"It is clear some practices, such as conditional unconditional offers, can limit the opportunities and outcomes for some students and changes are needed."
Universities UK will be conducting its own review into admissions.
Alistair Jarvis, chief executive of Universities UK, said the organisation's review will "consider the extent to which various university admissions practices are fair, transparent and operating in the best interests of students".
“The UK-wide review will make recommendations informed by what applicants, schools and universities think works well and where the main challenges lie in achieving greater fairness, transparency and aspiration-raising.”
Free tuition scheme
Today, the Higher Education Policy Institute called for students who are the first in their family to attend university to be given a year's free tuition during their first year.
“By making the first year of post-18 study free for any student who is among the first generation of their family (and applying this to first-born children and their siblings), we are signalling the importance of overcoming this barrier to educational attainment,” the report says.