Universities asked not to alter applicants’ offers

Michelle Donelan is asking higher education providers not to change their offers to students for two weeks to maintain stability and ensure students’ best interests are safeguarded.

Now that A levels, BTECs and other Level 3 qualifications have been cancelled, the Universities Minister is asking providers to refrain from changing their offers made to undergraduate students for the next two weeks, such as converting conditional offers to unconditional offers or changing entry requirements.

Donelan said that a small number of universities have changed a significant proportion of their offers to undergraduate students from ‘conditional’ to ‘unconditional’ in a bid to secure their attendance for the 2020/21 academic year. However, she warned that this practice risks destabilising the admissions system, increasing financial uncertainty and volatility for all institutions at a time when universities are already facing significant pressures.

The two week period will allow time for further advice to given to students and providers about how the new system of awarding A-Level grades will work, and how the admissions arrangements will work.

She said: “We are facing unprecedented circumstances as a country, but it is essential that we create a period of stability for both students and universities. As universities seek to secure attendance for the next academic year, I would ask them to refrain from changing existing offers to unconditional offers as it risks destabilising the entire admissions systems.

“We must also look out for students too, who in these uncertain times may be feeling anxious about their futures. I want to reassure students that we will provide them with the grades they need. No student should feel pressured into making a quick decision which may end up not being in their best interest. I am asking for a two week pause while we work with the sector over this period on admissions arrangements.”

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