We're supporting a move to a post-qualification admissions (PQA) system for higher education – which would see students receive university offers based on actual results rather than predicted grades.
The move could help more young people make the most of their qualifications – but the system will only be possible if everyone involved in the university admissions process, from schools to universities, is willing to ‘give a little’.
We believe that a successful post-qualification admissions system would depend on changes to the timing of teaching, careers advice, exams, results and the university term. Small changes to all of these would be enough to make a PQA system viable.
However, if too much emphasis is placed on the exam system by significantly shortening the time available for marking exams and awarding grades, this would create risks including the ability of exam boards to recruit enough examiners, the quality of their marking and being able to issue results on time.
The window for marking and awarding is already a tight one and as exam scripts are scanned and digitised by exam boards shortly after they are received from schools and colleges, there is little scope for technology to further compress the process.
Colin Hughes, AQA’s Chief Executive, said:
“Post-qualification admissions could help more young people get the university places they deserve, but schools, exam boards and Higher Education all need to be willing to give a little to make it happen.
“If schools can prepare their Year 13 students for exams that start a little earlier, exam boards can mark and award grades a little more quickly and more universities can move the start of term into October, there’s no reason why we can’t do this.
“The main risk comes if we look to one part of the system to shoulder more of the burden than it can realistically take. But, if we spread the load across the whole system, we reduce the risks to the point that PQA could really work.”
The government is consulting on a move to post-qualification admissions until 13 May.