Oxford 2020 offer holders - autumn A-level series policy

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Marsus
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With estimated grades awarded for A-levels this summers and limited/no opportunity for appeals by students - the autumn series of exams offered the opportunity for students to demonstrate their ability under exam conditions and rectify any injustices.

Oxford have finally published their policy on the autumn series of exams:

"Will Oxford offer places to any students holding offers who achieve grades through the proposed autumn exam series?
We will be taking into consideration the difficult circumstances in which grades have been awarded this year when making final admissions decisions in the summer. However, any students who are unhappy with the grades they receive and who choose to take examinations this autumn, or in June 2021, are welcome to reapply to us. You will need to reapply through UCAS by the 15 October 2020 deadline, and re-take any admissions test(s) required for the course you are applying to. Your application will be considered alongside others for 2021 entry, however, we will not consider the results of the exams you take in autumn or June 2021 as re-takes, so your application will not be disadvantaged when admissions decisions are made. Please note that applicants for Medicine would still need to achieve all the requirements of their conditional offer in a single examination sitting, so you would need to re-take all your qualifications and not just the one(s) in which you have missed your grade. Further information can be found on the Medicine admissions pages."

I can understand that Oxford University would not wish to allow students to defer entry where they have met their offer and are looking to sit A-levels in the autumn series merely to achieve improved results.

However students who have missed their offer through a combination of circumstances completely outside their control (Covid 19, historical performance of school, teacher judgement, "statistical" adjustment, etc) should have the opportunity to demonstrate their ability in the exam room without having to reapply. (After all this is the whole point of the autumn series.)

Oxford University has got so much right throughout this epidemic and has been enormously supportive of its students, this really does feel like an uncharacteristic misstep.

https://www.ox.ac.uk/coronavirus/stu...-offer-holders
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04MR17
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This isn't just an Oxford university decision. You can't transfer an offer on UCAS from one application cycle to the next. Anyone wishing to go to university and start in September 2021 can either defer a guaranteed place now or can use the 2021 application cycle. Universities are not obliged by any standards to honour the same offers made to students this year if they re-apply. And I suspect the biggest reason is simply the volume of applicants. Consider the number of people who have applied alongside you this year, imagine that same number again, but for every person who sits the Autumn series or retaken that's -1 offer that Oxford can realistically give out for next year if they were to commit to such a guarantee. So this might seem unfair, but there are some very valid reasons behind it.
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Marsus
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The selection process for Oxford and Cambridge university is far more challenging than for many other courses/universities and hence less certain - reapplying is therefore a big deal. For those that have progressed through this selection process and received a conditional offer, it is only fair that they have the opportunity to prove their ability in the autumn series, rather than be denied a place through circumstances and a system outside of their control.

The key hurdle in the Oxford University application process is achieving a conditional offer, with offer holders very much expected to achieve their offers. As a result, offers per place at Oxford is typically very low, allowing for a percentage that decline the offer and a limited number of candidates that will fail to meet their offer.

By comparison, I understand that for Cambridge University, the offer grades are a stretch and very much part of the application process with more offers per place compared to Oxford. Consequently any guarantee to honour offers based on results from the autumn series is likely to be far more onerous, however the Cambridge University policy is as follows:

"We understand that there may be an opportunity to take examinations this autumn. If you have not met the conditions of your offer this summer, you may choose to sit alternative examinations this autumn. The University of Cambridge will make you an offer for entry in October 2021, if the terms of your original offer are met as a result. Where possible, this will be at the College where the offer is currently held, and the current College must be notified by 31 August of the intention to take the autumn exams."

https://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/coronavirus

As I said in my earlier post, Oxford has got so much right throughout this epidemic and been very supportive of its students, but this policy appears odd.

I should be grateful for any insights BrasenoseAdm is able to offer on this matter.
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BrasenoseAdm
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(Original post by Marsus)
The selection process for Oxford and Cambridge university is far more challenging than for many other courses/universities and hence less certain - reapplying is therefore a big deal. For those that have progressed through this selection process and received a conditional offer, it is only fair that they have the opportunity to prove their ability in the autumn series, rather than be denied a place through circumstances and a system outside of their control.

The key hurdle in the Oxford University application process is achieving a conditional offer, with offer holders very much expected to achieve their offers. As a result, offers per place at Oxford is typically very low, allowing for a percentage that decline the offer and a limited number of candidates that will fail to meet their offer.

By comparison, I understand that for Cambridge University, the offer grades are a stretch and very much part of the application process with more offers per place compared to Oxford. Consequently any guarantee to honour offers based on results from the autumn series is likely to be far more onerous, however the Cambridge University policy is as follows:

"We understand that there may be an opportunity to take examinations this autumn. If you have not met the conditions of your offer this summer, you may choose to sit alternative examinations this autumn. The University of Cambridge will make you an offer for entry in October 2021, if the terms of your original offer are met as a result. Where possible, this will be at the College where the offer is currently held, and the current College must be notified by 31 August of the intention to take the autumn exams."

https://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/coronavirus

As I said in my earlier post, Oxford has got so much right throughout this epidemic and been very supportive of its students, but this policy appears odd.

I should be grateful for any insights BrasenoseAdm is able to offer on this matter.
Hola Marsus,

Thanks for the tag. Although this thread is not directly relevant, we are unable to make any comment on admissions during the UCAS embargo which ends at 8am on Thursday 13th August. We will respond after this.

Brasenose Admissions
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Marsus
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An interesting development today with an announcement from the government confirming explicitly the position on the autumn exams....

"A new ‘triple lock’ process will give young people added security as they receive their grades this year, the Education Secretary has announced.

"Students could accept their calculated grade, appeal to receive a valid mock result, or sit autumn exams to ensure the achievements of young people are recognised.

"Ofqual has been asked to determine how and when valid mock results can be used to calculate grades.

"All outcomes will hold the same value for universities, colleges and employers, building on the significant number of students who will still progress as a result of their calculated grades. Similar arrangements will apply to vocational and technical qualifications."



https://www.gov.uk/government/news/t...20the%20autumn.
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BrasenoseAdm
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(Original post by BrasenoseAdm)
Hola Marsus,

Thanks for the tag. Although this thread is not directly relevant, we are unable to make any comment on admissions during the UCAS embargo which ends at 8am on Thursday 13th August. We will respond after this.

Brasenose Admissions
Hola Marcus,

Further to your query, there are three reasons. Firstly, despite the offer of government help not all schools are expected to offer resists and not all students will be in a position to take this option. Secondly, all of the applicants next year will have experienced disruptions to their school learning and the University did not want to favour one year group over another. Thirdly, as reported Oxford has been as flexible as possible in admitting applicants with assessed grades that missed their offer.

Brasenose Admissions
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