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Have your say: UCAS proposed Post Results Uni Applications for 2016! Watch

  • View Poll Results: Do you think applying to university after results is a good idea?
    Yes, it's a fantastic idea
    Yes, overall a good idea but with some reservations
    No, it's a bad idea
    Not sure/Don't know


    (Original post by Becca-Sarah)
    You halve the number of applications, you (supposedly) halve the number of time you need to process them, unless unis decide it would be fairer to interview a higher proportion of applicants now that they're more able to.

    I suspect that there would year-on-year fluctuations in the number of applications to each uni, based on how popular a uni was the previous year. So if Aberdeen, for example, got 1500 applications whereas based on the percentage of UK places it offers it should get 1103 applications, then the following year you might see it only get 800 as people hedge their bets and go elsewhere. I don't know, I'm just speculating, but possibly with only two choices people would try to play the system (badly, in most cases) to increase their chances.
    Yeah, that makes sense. Interviewing wouldn't go up because while they have half the students, they also have less time, so the time:admissions ratio would stay the same?

    Yeah, you're right. To be honest, applicants are already generally quite wise to applying to smart (unless TSR is unrepresentative!), so it probably wouldn't make a massive difference.

    (Original post by Parle à ma main)
    Oh right, ok, that makes sense So unis would have about half the applicants, but about half the amount of time to make decisions? That sounds about fair, actually.

    What do you think about the changes?
    I am in the overall good idea, but with some things to be ironed out camp. My opinion is that the current system is far more drawn out and painful than it needs to be, in many cases needlessly so. People are used to an application period of 8 months, but is that really reasonable? Oxbridge make decisions by January and still have time to fit in an admissions test and interview a large proportion of its applicants. Applications for jobs don't take 8 months, so certainly I see scope to remove wasted time out of the system.

    There are clear merits to applying after results, both in terms of those who achieve better than predicted (and can apply to better universities) and those who do worse who do not have to go through the pain of clearing and can apply on an equal footing to everyone else rather than chasing the scraps. There are a lot of good AAB/ABB type applicants who every year feel they have to settle for something they know is lower than what they're capable of and it leads to bad decisions and high drop-outs.

    The downside is mainly around the impact of delaying decision making and motivation to study, as several people have raised. Giving people more time to think about what they want to study is fine, so long as they're actually doing that. I'm sure a lot of people will however come to A-level results having thought very little about what they want to do and then having little time to organise themselves and decide. There will need to be open days throughout the year and encouragement to attend in order to allow people to narrow down their choices (a lot of that 5 -> 2 choice work is going to need to be done pre-application under the new system).

    The limitation of two choices seems like a necessary evil, to compress the timetable for decisions, but I think I am concerned a little about the impact that will have on people's aspirational choices. I would hope that people would go for one aspirational choice (but within their grade limits) and one slightly more conservative, rather like the current firm and insurance choices. It's all a bit unknown, so a lot will be wait and see. This applies to the unis too because all of their previous statistical trends on how much to over-offer and how many applications they get will be out the window.

    (Original post by RajPopat94)
    If i'm not mistaken, this is the same point, right? I disagree with the idea of students being less motivated. I mean, if a uni says they need a set of grades, students will be motivated regardless of whether or not offers are made before they have sat exams.

    I think the concept right now is correct, but there isn't consistency with predicted grades. I think that is what needs to be changed.
    I think he was making a similar point. I see what you're saying and that is true, but I think if students have offers, then they will have more confidence and feel relieved when they come to do exams. I guess it just takes a little pressure off when it comes to exams; knowing that they have some secure offers already. I completely agree with your point about inconsistency, the grade requirements for some universities do vary by quite a bit.

    (Original post by oxymoronic)
    Does this new process mean most students will start university when they're 19 instead of 18, as they have to wait till after the results to apply? Or is it all going to be done in that small gap between june a level exams and university start in september/october?

    (Original post by A level Az)
    Does this new process mean most students will start university when they're 19 instead of 18, as they have to wait till after the results to apply? Or is it all going to be done in that small gap between june a level exams and university start in september/october?
    It would be done in the gap between finishing A-level exams (which will be earlier) and starting University in October. It's worth saying that these changes are not necessarily going to happen, they're just proposals at this stage.
    • PS Helper

    I prefer the current system even if the night before A Level results was torture.

    I completely agree with the proposed changes, and to be honest i wish they were in place when i had applied.

    I know someone who achieved ADDU at AS level, and has been predicted ABB at A2 level, four grades above what she had attained at AS. She now has offers from good universities after doing very little work for her exams.

    The bottom line is that i feel that current system is unfair on those who have done well at AS. Of course i understand that some will improve on their results, but many just fix their predicted grades just to improve their chances of getting offers. The new system would give students a far more realistic view of where they can apply.
    • Thread Starter

    Just to update you all on this:

    Thank you very very much to everyone who submitted a response on the survey. Nearly 200 people gave their thoughts which was a great response for such a short time period. Some people submitted incredibly detailed, well thought out and very emotive responses.

    I attended a UCAS consultation conference shortly before the submission deadline and met with representatives from universities, schools and various other bodies such as the Medical Schools Council, Oxford Colleges and Admissions Service and UCAS themselves. This was a great chance for me to share your thoughts and other delegates were very impressed with some of the alternative proposals that TSR users had created. They were all very keen to ensure that future/current/past applicants and their parents were heard during the review process.

    After the conference I submitted an official consultation report to UCAS on behalf of TSR users using direct quotes from survey responses. There will be future consultation sessions and we will endeavor to ensure that we continue to provide TSR users with a way to voice their opinions on this issue.

    I will write a full follow up report as soon as possible (likely to be next week) so then you will all be able to read more of what happened and the impacts of the potential 2014 and 2016 changes. Sorry it has been slightly delayed!!

    I think its good for people who do better than their predicted grades. I know of someone who went to my sixth form. They did 4 full a-levels but were predicted AABB so got rejected from oxbridge. They then went on to get A*A*A*A with the A being in the least relevant subject. If oxbridge knew that thats what they would have actually got, there's a good chance they would have gotten in. I think they're now at Southampton . . .

    It's a great idea, because two things that bug me are conditional offers(bugs me a little) and the weighting given to predicted grades(bugs me a LOT).

    My personal idea is:

    Bring results day forward into mid July(as proposed).

    Applicants have two weeks to apply. I'd make applications much less complicated, with the personal statement cut to around 200 words and no reference. So it'd pretty much be based solely on grades. One thing that annoys me is people missing out because they can't write particularly well, even if they're applying for a very practical/mathematical type course.

    Uni's have the first 3 weeks in August to make decisions and then there's a 3 week period for students to make decisions and sort out accom, finance etc, with freshers week being September week 3.

    There will be no interviews and all offers will be unconditional.

    And you can only apply to 3 Unis. This cuts the workload of admissions staff whilst still allowing for a gamble type choice, a bread and butter choice and a backup.

    In a lot of ways the system that's proposed is very similar to what Warwick already do for maths. Flat offer to everyone who is predicted (I think) AAB of A*A*A(2)/A*AA(1). If you get it you're in, if you don't you're not.

    AFAIK Trinity (Dublin) does the same. Threshold for each course is published, get it, you're in, don't and you're not.

    Every University could publish (as they already do) what it expected the threshold to be so ppl would know what to aim for, but instead of aiming for just two sets of grades (Firm and Insurance) you'd be aiming for all Universities and then only applying to the two / three that you were over the expected threshold for when the final grades are published. At that point it would come down to PS / GCSEs etc as it already is for those universities who want to use those as a sifting system. It would also have the advantage that Universities would know exactly how many incoming students they had, avoiding the usual problems of accommodation when inevitably some places end up with more freshers than they have rooms.

    If there was a regulation that said a certain proportion of places have to be left for A3 and that applicants can be pooled into A3 from A2 then it would leave a level of insurance if a student wanted to apply for (e.g.) Imperial and Oxford, otherwise they could find they are rejected from both the 'high flying' Universities even with A*AA/A*A*A and that other places of the same caliber are already full. The pooling system and holding back of a certain number of places would ease that.

    There never will be a perfect system unfortunately but the current system dragging on for months is extremely distracting and demotivating, especially when one of the reply windows is right in the middle of the January exams!

    I honestly think it would lead to greater choice rather than less.

    I personally think it is a bad idea because the only reason certain people do well on their A levels is because they recieve a offer from a university and work towards it.

    Have a read
    • Thread Starter

    Hi everyone,

    UCAS have published the results of their findings today.
    You can see the 72 page report here: http://www.ucas.co.uk/reviews/admissionsprocessreview/

    And for those who don't want to read 72 pages, you can read a BBC news article here which covers some of the findings but not all of them:

    I will update this thread with a summary of the outcomes this evening after I have had time to a) properly read and b) digest the findings. I have skim read the information today and a lot of the final conclusions reflect the thoughts which were highlighted in your responses.

    Thank you all very much for your thoughts, ideas and suggestions to this review. As I've said before your thoughts were greatly appreciated and valued at the conference I attended so UCAS and universities are certainly paying attention to the views of TSR members which is great.
    • Thread Starter

    Implementing a full post results applications system as proposed for 2016 is not feasible at this time. A post results system was classed as desirable in principle but it was unrealistic to implement due to the fact it would need to meet the different requirements of the English, Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh education systems as well as meeting the needs of international and mature applicants.

    It was felt that a post results application system would not necessarily support applicants aspiring to the most competitive courses. There were concerns about the potential negative impacts on widening participation. If applications were made over the summer holidays when students were removed from the guidance and support of their school, this would penalise those applicants who do not have additional avenues of advice from their families. Loss of teaching time during A levels/Highers due to an earlier results day was a concern for schools and parents. Many applicants and schools had concerns that a post results system would lead of a more mechanistic approach to the assessment of applications, with universities making decisions based solely on academic performance due to the lack of time and resources to consider contextual data.

    However, the changes to the current system for 2014 were generally well received and many have been recommended for implementation.

    Proposed changes to clearing

    The proposals to reform the current clearing process into a managed online service received a lot of support. Many applicants, universities and schools cited that the current clearing process is unfair due to the "first come first served" nature of it. It is proposed that there will be a short break between results day and the opening of clearing. Clearing will then operate as a gathered field like the main application cycle with applicants having 24 hours from 9am Monday (for example) to submit an online application before being considered by their chosen university.

    Universities would be required to make decisions about all applicants before clearing started giving everyone who needed it the chance to apply on day one. Universities will have access to more information about applicants before results day to aid their decision making and UCAS will work to provide universities with more qualification results automatically.

    Proposed changes to UCAS Apply

    MyUCAS will be developed. This is a portal to provide improved information to applicants to support their research, their choices and their applications.

    Applicants will be able to upload certificates, portfolios and supporting documentation to UCAS Apply. This will stop an applicant being asked for their exam certificates by each individual university.

    UCAS will work with relevant bodies to capture data needed for student loans, student visas and criminal record bureau check during the UCAS Apply period.

    Changes to the UCAS personal statement

    Whilst applicants were in favour of being able to submit multiple personal statements this was considered to be logistically infeasible by schools, colleges and advisers. Universities also noted that they would be unable to tell how serious an applicant was about their course from the content of the statement.

    Instead, it is recommended that applicants will be able to submit an additional personal statement in pre defined circumstances. This includes applicants who:

    are using UCAS Extra or clearing to apply for a different subject,

    wish to apply to a mixture of Welsh and/or Gaelic and English medium courses,

    are applying to medicine and related courses due to the difficulties in writing a personal statement suitable for both medicine and the fifth option.

    The insurance choice

    Whilst universities were in favour of the removal of the insurance choice, this was unpopular with applicants, schools and advisers who strongly felt the need for a safety net. The most competitive universities also noted that they felt some applicants would be reluctant to put them as a firm choice without an insurance option due to the increased chance of ending up in clearing. As a result, the insurance choice will remain as now.

    Other proposals which are no longer recommended:

    Reducing the number of choices in Apply was very unpopular with applicants and some schools.

    Changing the equal consideration deadline to 31st January. Schools felt that this would distract from the importance of the January A level exams and some schools proposed that the deadline was before the Christmas holidays to ensure that students do not delay their application.
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