There has been a huge rise in the number of unconditional offers being made to prospective university students in the last few years, it has been found.
A 2018 survey, published by UCAS, showed 67,915 unconditional were given to students across the UK, a 32% increase from 2017.
Education Secretary of England, Damian Hinds, described the 22% increase from 2013 as “disturbing” and “not in the interest of students.”
Providing unconditional offers distracts students, and this leads to them achieving lower grades than they are capable of.
The UCAS study concluded that around 20 institutions were responsible for the bulk increase, with some, such as the University of Bolton and University of Suffolk, relying predominantly on unconditional offers to attract students. However, Russell Group universities have also given a large number of such offers. For example, The University of Birmingham had made 4,765 unconditional offers out of a total of 25,000 offers, in 2018.
Meanwhile, 11% of the University of Nottingham’s offers were unconditional in 2018.
A spokesperson for Universities UK confirmed that they would be negotiating with UCAS to assure that unconditional offers were used in the right way.
“We will explore with Ucas if there is more we can do as a sector to ensure they are used appropriately and proportionately so that the admissions system continues to work in the best interests of students.”
Despite this, Unconditional offers have been praised for helping students to plan ahead, through early confirmation of university accommodation and Student Finance. The University of Portsmouth’s Vice-Chancellor said: “We have found that applicants to whom we make unconditional offers are more likely to attain their predicted grades than applicants to whom we make conditional offers.”
Unconditional offers also seem to boost the confidence of students since they feel “good enough” for the chosen course, and this positively affects their final A-level grades. Sheffield Hallam University followed up the performance of students who received unconditional offers, and found that there was often no discernable difference in performance.
The Mancunion contacted the University of Manchester, to inquire about the unconditional offers policy operated by the admissions department.
The University confirmed that it currently does not hand out unconditional offers to students who are yet to sit their A-Levels.
The University said that this was a strict policy employed, and that there was also no opportunity of an unconditional offer by listing the University of Manchester as a firm choice.