UUK launches major review of offer making

UUK chief executive says admissions should remain in the hands of universities but must 'build greater levels of transparency, trust and public understanding'

Universities UK (UUK) has launched a review of offer making in a potential shake up to unconditional and contextual offers.

The group will collect information on how universities make unconditional offers, a practice which was described as “unethical” by education secretary Damian Hinds in April. The panel may also suggest universities make applications after students have received their A level results.

The Fair Admissions review will be chaired by Prof Paddy Nixon, vice-chancellor and president of Ulster University, and include Clare Marchant, chief executive of Ucas, and the vice-chancellors of Durham, St Andrews, Lincoln and Nottingham Trent. Headteachers and student representatives will also sit on the 16-member panel.

UUK says the advisory group will “propose changes that will ensure that university admissions work in the best interests of applicants and are fit for purpose in a rapidly changing post-18 education environment”.

The findings, which will be published in Spring 2020, will include a review of whether the Schwartz principles “remain valid”.


Schwartz principles for fair practice:

  1. Transparency
  2. Selection for merit, potential and diversity
  3. Assessment methods that are reliable, valid and relevant
  4. Minimise the barriers to applicants
  5. Professionalism and institutional structures and processes

The 2004 Schwartz report on fair admissions, commissioned by the then education secretary Charles Clarke, also recommended the use of “contextual indicators” in admissions and a move “to a post-qualification applications system”.

Alistair Jarvis, chief executive of UUK, said of the review: “It will determine whether different types of offers operate in the best interests of students and are fair to all. Universities will continue to make their own decisions on offers, but the review aims to build greater levels of transparency, trust and public understanding in admissions practices.”

Marchant said: “Students’ best interests must be the paramount consideration for universities and colleges when making offers. It’s essential that students are supported to make informed choices and the right decisions about their future.”


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