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Time to change the University Entrance system?

Discussion in 'Education news' started by FrankWolley, Feb 8, 2016.

  1. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    I find it hard to disagree with this letter in today's paper:

    End the university guessing game
    Richard Garner’s exposé “The great university admissions charade (4 February), comes as no surprise.

    This hugely expensive casino serves universities and students badly. That teachers should be obliged to give predicted grades after what is, in effect, no more three-fifths of the course can, despite their best efforts, be neither trustworthy nor reliable. It is hard to imagine a more stupid system than one where students apply to university before their results are known.

    The universities claim that to change would mean an adjustment of their term dates. So what? The existing arrangements are a huge waste of time, talent and resources. The Government needs to knock heads together.

    David McKaigue

    http://www.independent.co.uk/voices...overnment-will-breed-extremists-a6859686.html

    Thoughts?
     
  2. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    A lot of this is about the bunched up elite students. Universities across the spectrum make a lot of offers sight unseen of which most of the students attain their grades on account that their grades are the most common grades. Up the top end, however, it does make a large difference. The threshold between Russell /Oxbridge and post-1992 is where some of the issues are and like GCSEs, patching a star on the end of the A grade does nothing to reveal the student. What does reveal the student is AS grades, but then some idiot uncoupled these from the A levels.
     
    Middlemarch likes this.
  3. lizziescat

    lizziescat Star commenter

    Or perhaps a year out before going to university. Time to do something, get a job or volunteer - save a little towards fees? Away from the treadmill of exams -time to reflect from a distance whether university is the right thing. Chance to explore other opportunities or ways into chosen career. It's a huge step and commitment (personal, financial, time) a year's wait/experience isn't much out of a lifetime. If only this could become the standard admission process.
     
  4. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    I suspect that going post A level would end the mystique of conditional offers and the grades you really need to get in.
    I know several youngsters including my daughter who have been admitted with grades lower than they initially asked for. In the case of my daughter, it was fortunate- one of her A levels was bumped up a grade on appeal.
    I agree though that from many points of view post A level applications would be a positive thing. The only reservation that I would have is that would-be students would not have nearly as much support from their school, who would be focussed on the new cohort. Maybe it would force the youngsters to take responsibility. I have known many youngsters who have needed dragging kicking and screaming through the UCAS application form, particularly the personal statement.
     
    Owen134866 and FrankWolley like this.
  5. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    That's great when you live in a city/bigger town and/or have enough wealth or influence to get your school leaver children something useful to do for the year. We were living in an isolated, small rural town when our children left school. There were no employment opportunities there (except volunteering in local charity shops - which is what they'd done for their compulsory school work experience!). Nor could we afford to pay for them to live somewhere where they could get work (travelling daily was simply not possible). A year off would have meant a year sitting at home playing on the play station or similar...
     
  6. lizziescat

    lizziescat Star commenter

    Indeed so did they really want to go then? I suspect a post results and delayed admission might lose a number of applicants..
     
  7. lizziescat

    lizziescat Star commenter

    Indeed but I don't think employment opportunities are necessarily always better in some towns. I live in a rural area -no public transport. But I have known some youngsters set up 'car washing rounds' or grass cutting services (and being a smallish community get patronage because they are known).

    Of course some universities also need to be see this type of work, knowledge as being as qualifying as having read the latest Booker prize winning novel or being able to discuss the Statute of Mortmain. If it were to become standard to admit a year after getting results a change in the admissions process might be needed with less weight given to a (teacher supporrted) personal statement for example.
     
  8. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter


    I'm afraid I am doubtful that the town we lived in - 15,000 population but basically no major employers - could have supported the several hundred school leavers each year (3 secondary schools with sixth forms). The result would have been a lot of sitting around at home, or hanging around the town centre.
     
  9. lizziescat

    lizziescat Star commenter

    And that would be on their application.

    It's not just about paid employment.
    Some imagination (and this in itself could be credited in their application) might be needed to demonstrate their skills beyond their 3 A grades. Perhaps they could take on the running of the household for a year, volunteer at the village school, develop an allotment, undertake research on xyz. The point is that what you do with the year says something about self-motivation, character, independence, imagination, social skills, etc.

    Admittedly, some universities do have to start seeing beyond the traditional activities as evidence of 'character' etc. The student who has spent the year travelling on the back of family wealth or has volunteered on some of the holiday/volunteer programmes abroad may not be regarded as well as some one who has the imagination to use their more limited circumstances.
     
  10. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    A lot of your ideas sound wonderful, but would lend themselves equally to being easier for the family who have money/influence/time than for many others. I would also expect widespread fabrication to take place, with claims being made that were exaggerated or plainly untrue.
     
  11. wanet

    wanet Star commenter

    Some time ago it was suggested that A Levels be taken earlier so Universities could make offers based on actual results. Would it need a year out? You could apply whilst waiting for the results, then offers be made once results are known. Results out in August, if term started at the end of Oct, then surely 2 months would be enough to sort out applicants. Technology should allow this to happen. If some didn't bother, would this be a bad thing.
     
    FrankWolley likes this.
  12. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter


    Or start University terms in January, and keep the A levels as they are.
     
    Middlemarch and wanet like this.
  13. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    There will be fewer of them so that will help. The new GCSE grading system will soon require a 4 to access L3 qualifications. This will lead to smaller sixth forms, reduction in numbers of sixth forms, shrinkage of FE sector and a greater number going into industry at the level of apprenticeships.

    My money is on technology being the answer. In HE we use ePortfolios and everything assessed is uploaded to the cloud, matched against every other essay in the country for plagiarism and then assessment feedback is attached to the essay/content online. The student takes a little cloud of essays/content and assessments around with them as they move from unit to unit building it as they go. As a tutor, I can pull up their ePortfolio and see all their past work and assessment feedback. Much easier than relying on someone's word or a polished statement. How long before a free marketeer minister sees a potential financial saving compared to the enormous cost of examinations?
     
  14. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter


    The software may check for plagiarism, but does it check that student A's essay(s) were actually written by student A, and not his/her Dad/Mum/brother etc.? Examinations do guard against this type of cheating.
     
  15. wanet

    wanet Star commenter

    But should it really need that long. I know that there will be a bit of negotiating as students try and get their best choice, but it could all be automated.
     
  16. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter


    Also need to sort out choice of university and then the accommodation - that can take ages!
     
  17. lizziescat

    lizziescat Star commenter

    Undoubtedly. Just as the present system does. Equalising the playing field and Changing the University Entrance System will take more than tinkering with the start date. (I mentioned earlier a need for some universities to have a broader view of different backgrounds and experiences).

    As with any application the employer/university will have their own way of ascertaining the veracity of statements. Obviously no exaggeration or clever wording takes place now;)
    Our difference seems to be on how long the delay is.
     
  18. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    I think universities should not be allowed to see names, schools, colleges etc. I think they should only have qualifications, predicted grades and a strict statement which hides the fact that you went to a fee paying school. If you think this would change the numbers getting into certain universities then you accept that the school name carries weight.

    By the way, is there any incentive for teachers to over predict for the students apart from the fact it obviously helps the students if they miss their offer by a grade and scrape in anyway? I mean, do they get grief from their SLT if they predict low grades etc?
     
    wanet and Vince_Ulam like this.
  19. wanet

    wanet Star commenter

    I recall a head of sixth form who changed grades and statements. I always felt it was foolish as it would reduce the value of them longterm.
     
  20. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter


    There might well be unintended consequences of such a policy - only the highest grades would get the place, and that might well be those from private (or selective) schools. But there are now many universities (Russell Group included) who will - if two applicants have very similar qualifications - choose the one who comes from the 'less advantaged' school. So your suggestion could reinforce the advantages private schools pupils receive.
     
    Middlemarch and wanet like this.

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