We are concerned about the rapid rise in unconditional offers, particularly those with strings attached which are akin to pressure selling – Nicola Dandridge, chief executive, Office for Students
New research conducted by the Office for Students highlights concerns over the increasing trend for unconditional offers. Evidence reveals that:
- applicants who accept an unconditional offer are more likely to miss their predicted A-level grades by two or more grades
- applicants from the areas with the lowest higher education participation rates are more likely to receive an unconditional offer because they are more likely to apply to the types of university that are making unconditional offers in greater numbers
More worrying is the trend for the ‘conditional unconditional’ where the applicant has to make the offer their firm choice for the offer to become unconditional. The report highlights that there were no such offers detected in 2013 but, in 2018, 66,000 such offers were made to 18-year-olds.
Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of the OfS, said: “We are concerned about the rapid rise in unconditional offers, particularly those with strings attached which are akin to pressure selling. It is plainly not in students’ interests to push them to accept an offer that may not be their best option.
“Whatever admissions practices universities choose to use, they should clearly be encouraging students to make the decision that is right for them, and not the decision that best suits the university.
“If we identify cases where unconditional offers are having an obvious negative impact on students’ choices or outcomes, we are of course prepared to intervene.”